17 April 2007

Beware of a Phony Gun Debate

There wasn't much that could have been done to stop the VTU shootings on Monday. So I don't think the massacre will open a new debate on gun control. What I do think will happen, however, is that conservatives will soon begin to accuse liberals of using the murders to initiate a gun control debate--even though that isn't the case. Let me demonstrate how this is done.

At this point, even with the Virginia tragedy, I don't believe liberals are ready to reopen the gun control fight. There are several reasons. First, liberals have a number of other domestic issues of higher priority, like health care, the wage gap, and other poverty-related, economic concerns that must be addressed. Second, liberals clearly need to deal with the wasted and worthless deaths and other disgusting events taking place in Iraq. Third, with possibility of gaining states in the West, liberals and Democrats must think about some tradeoffs to make that a reality. As Machiavellian as it might seem, if 3-4 Western states could be brought into the Democratic electoral vote column, we should think about what would be necessary to bring that about. And it seems as though gun control would not be helpful in that electoral quest. Overall, it doesn't appear to be the right time to push this issue.

Personally, I would like to see this debate reopened. I think every one of those rabid, NRA-types ought to have a handgun shoved up their ass (it doesn't have to be loaded, just shoved). But I still possess a slither of political realism, and I am willing to wait on this issue.

But here is what the conservatives are already doing--and they have the mainstream media helping them. They are going to use the VTU murders to fire up their base.....by warning their mindless minions that liberals are now out to take away their firearms. Liberals are not pressing this issue--but the right-wingers have made the charge anyway. And once the wingnuts have made the charge, the media picks it up (they need something to report) and begins reporting on this new gun control debate.

The conservatives then throw up their hands, act surprised, and then blame liberals for exploiting the situation. They have been doing this for years--liberals understand it, it's their own conservative voters who are too damned stupid to have figured it out yet.

In graduate school we used to call this a "straw-man" argument: when someone falsely manufactures a case just so they can shoot it down. There must be a better word for it. If anyone has a better term for what Rove and his right-wingers do on a consistent basis--please leave it in the comments section.

Let's not fall for this. Spread the word, write, blog--do whatever you have to do to let the public know that while liberals are concerned about gun violence, we aren't reopening this gun debate just now. It's simply conservatives trying to use fear (as usual) to scare their own terrified constituents and wrangle some additional money out of them.

1 comment:

hwki said...

I agree completely. But why CAN'T we at least trot out a sacrificial lamb or two to re-open this issue? And apart from the issue of whether private citizen really needs a whole room full of ANY kind of firearm, why arn't NRA members willing to REGISTER their weapons? How on earth does this threaten ANYONE's civil rights? And what does it say about EITHER political party that we're willing to swap human lives for electoral strategizing?