Craven, Thy Name is Texas
"Guns don't kill people alone, but one in particular makes it much easier."
I hadn't intended to write a Part II to my AR-15 article last week, but my hand has been forced by another bloody day in America.
There's something about a group of 19 adorable elementary school kids, and two beautiful teachers, reduced to a state where DNA swabs from parents are required for identification, that tends to focus your attention.
As the only Governor we have, and his Sheriff of Nottingham, Dan Patrick, held an obligatory press conference after the shooting in Uvalde, interrupted by the ghost of Christmas present, Beto O'Rourke, we heard what we've all heard before, and before that. It's always a variation of "guns don't kill people, people kill people." And in the abstract, that's true. And yes, people kill people with knives, baseball bats, cars and so on. But rarely in batches of 21 in the space of seconds. So, let's put that silly soundbite to rest.
Perhaps a better slogan is, "guns don't kill people alone, but one in particular makes it much easier." That gun is the one I wrote about last week, the AR-15.
I won't go back over the same ground here, but to summarize, it's a gun designed to specifications from the US Army for use on the battlefield as a counter to that very efficient Russian killing machine, the AK-47. In the previous piece, I pointed out that it isn't really particularly suited to much else, home defense or hunting, being too much for one and not enough for the other. But if you want to shoot up a room full of people, a grocery store, nightclub, theatre or classroom, it is just the ticket.
One comment on my story last week came from my younger brother who is about as different from me politically as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. He has an AR but admitted it is mainly because it looks badass. He lives in the country and raises cattle on the side. He said a good shotgun or hunting rifle is much better for dealing with predators than the plastic, fantastic assault rifle.
So my contention is that we ban it and all rifles like it. Put it on the list of prohibited weapons along with machine guns and grenades. We take it off the market, buy back the ones in circulation now and cite anyone caught with one after a certain deadline. Period, no pussyfooting around about it. At the very least, put the high capacity magazines for it on the banned list, as we did with the assault weapons ban a few years ago, but without the loopholes. It isn't "gun grabbing," well except for this one, and no other guns would be touched. And it's perfectly allowed under the Constitution.
And, it has worked before. From the New York Times...
After a British gunman killed 16 people in 1987, the country banned semiautomatic weapons like those he had used. It did the same with most handguns after a 1996 school shooting. It now has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the developed world.
In Australia, a 1996 massacre prompted mandatory gun buybacks that saw, according to some estimates, as many as one million firearms melted into slag. The rate of mass shootings plummeted from once every 18 months to, so far, only one in the 26 years since.
Canada also tightened gun laws after a 1989 mass shooting. So did Germany in 2002, New Zealand in 2019 and Norway last year.
So why isn't someone recommending this? Well, here's where it gets sticky for me because I really do try to be as bipartisan as possible. But the problem is Republicans. There, I said it.
The entire GOP is cowering in the face of the National Rifle Association. There are 252 million voting age Americans and 5 million members of the NRA. With admittedly brilliant marketing, the NRA has convinced gun owners that the AR-15 is all that stands between them and tyranny. So how did we preserve our republic before? Search me.
There are around 400 million guns in civilian hands and roughly 20 million of them are AR's, so yes, a buy back would be cumbersome. But that's not the real problem. It is the fact that our "leaders," such as they are, are scared to death. Whatever you think of Beto, and I know what many of you think, he isn't wrong on this point. They are so afraid of losing their phony baloney jobs (Hat tip to Governor Le Petomane) that they'll parrot any platitude, offer any lie and kiss the ring of Wayne Lapierre to keep them.
And that includes the Guv, who makes Governor Le Petomane look like Thomas Jefferson, our state's intellectual wading pool Lt. Governor Dan Patrick,the legislature and on up to the GOP side of the Congress. Observe, for example, the NRA convention in Houston coming up as I write this, a convention where you can't bring a gun by the way. They aren't stupid, after all. Abbott, Patrick, Cruz (R-Cancun), Attorney General Ted Baxter, sorry, Ken Paxton, John Cornyn, our own Captain Morgan, Congressman Dan Crenshaw and of course, former President Donald Trump, were all lined up as speakers, just 2 weeks after Buffalo. Two weeks. Showing a modicum of talent for reading the room, Patrick, Cornyn and Crenshaw have bowed out. Abbott will speak by video and, of course, Cruz is still set to be there. Hell, even Lee Greenwood won't be singing God Bless the USA.
So, we'll back up a truckload of thoughts and prayers at the homes of out grieving neighbors just down the road in Uvalde, and like Pilate, wash our hands of these kid's blood. I am frankly amazed that political ambition can so overwhelm simple humanity. The idea that everyone from Mitch to Greg to Dan to Ted; well it's easy to imagine Ted; can look at the children's faces from Newtown or Uvalde, or the pretty girls and handsome boys from Parkland, Florida, and not feel moved to action is incomprehensible. If 67 murdered kids and teachers doesn't touch something in you, you are frankly dead inside. But, hey, it's the cost of a political career on that side of the aisle.
Consider this. These guys won't even entertain enhanced background checks or raising the age limit so you can't waltz into a gun shop and buy an army rifle until you're 21. You can't buy a beer until then, for crying out loud. Even in Israel, which is a virtual armed camp, unless you have served your hitch in the military, the minimum gun buying age is 27.
Honestly, I think they are beyond redemption at this point. They'll talk about armed guards, even though in Buffalo, Parkland and Uvalde, there were either security guards or cops on the scene. None of the killers were deterred by the "good guy with a gun." They'll talk about arming teachers, forgetting they already passed that law. Now they are down to simply, "lock all the doors."
Now look, I have plenty of issues with Democrats, too, believe me. But this is urgent and they aren't the problem on this one. Yes, in the spirit of Facebook-style circular arguments, you could bring up abortion. I'll be happy to write about that as well since my feelings are complicated on the subject. But for now, there are families in pain and there will be more, and more. My biggest problem with Democrats is that they are as cowed as Republicans, but not by the NRA. By Republicans. They practically beg for some watery gun bill on background checks or something, when they should be saying what I'm saying here. They have lost the ability to be bold.
If you want to know how cynical and cold this issue is for manufacturers and their toadies, consider this tweet from the company that manufactured the AR-15 clone the Uvalde killer used. This was two days after the Buffalo massacre.
The little boy in that photo looks to be a bit younger than the kids in Uvalde, but about the same age as the Newtown victims. I'm not sure what one can say other than to point out the obscenity of it. The propaganda has been incredibly effective, but we have seen in other countries that when confronted with tragedy, political will can overcome mind-numbed resistance and do the right thing.
We have none of that political will here. We have elected a group of soulless, spineless lickspittles who seem to have no humanity to touch. Men and women who wouldn't know which end the bullet exits have proclaimed this rifle and it's kin, sacrosanct and some sort of essential tool for preserving our freedom. It is honestly pathetic to watch and there is no way to change them.
The only solution is honest, dedicated men and women who will face the music, and the NRA, and act. The voters who will vote solely on this issue are about 10% of the electorate, by latest estimates. That means 90% of us are held hostage, like the kids in Uvalde. The power to end this is in our hands. At long last, sensible Americans, sensible gun owners, need to be heard, en mass. The ball is in our court.
Texas began with names like Houston, Travis and Bowie and now we have Abbott, Patrick and Cruz. It's proof that Darwin may have been wrong.