Well, in case anyone missed it, the Presidential debate last night finally addressed a question to the candidates about guns and gun control. Finally. The responses were interesting, to say the least. President Obama deigned to mention background checks and even mildly suggested that there should be an assault weapons ban and that citizens shouldn't be allowed to have the type of weapons used in war. Here is, in part, some of his answer from the link above:
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, did the usual end run around the question, and wandered into family issues instead. It was a strange answer to say the least. Let's take a look:"We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, andI believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition ofhunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they canprotect themselves.But there have been too many instances during the course of mypresidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody.Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago,actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at thebedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent sometime, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later,this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, goodas new.But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that goodfortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.So my belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’vealready got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands ofcriminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better jobin terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comesto enforcement.But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed forsoldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’mtrying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reducethe violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assaultweapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at othersources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago,there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s.They’re using cheap hand guns."
And then he launched into a discussion about traditional two parent families. Whatever. That was likely a "dog whistle" to the far right who claim to believe in strong family values as if the rest of us don't. But I digress. Romney's answer left President Obama an opening into the total reversal of position on gun control held by Mr. Romney. While Governor of Massachusetts, Romney passed an Assault Weapons Ban, still in place. Now he has gone so far to the right to pay homage to his party's far right extremists, that he sought and received an endorsement from the NRA's own Ted Nugent who famously said this:Yeah, I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on– on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We,of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s alreadyillegal in this country to have automatic weapons. What I believe iswe have to do, as the president mentioned towards the end of hisremarks there, which is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gunlaws that we have, and to change the culture of violence that we have.And you ask how – how are we going to do that? And there are anumber of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree. Wewere able to drive our schools to be number one in the nation in mystate. And I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll –we’ll give people the – the hope and opportunity they deserve andperhaps less violence from that. But let me mention another thing.And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids.Wherever possible the – the benefit of having two parents in thehome, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms,single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies,they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a greatidea.
Raise your hand if you think a candidate should want an endorsement from a man who says things like those in the video. This says a lot about Mitt Romney's desperation to be liked by even the gun extremists.
Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. Neither man was brave enough to actually answer this question adequately or to the point of the original question. President Obama has not, is not and will not take away guns from people as the NRA and its minions, including Executive VP Wayne LaPierre, love to scream. President Obama passed several laws that the NRA, in fact, wanted- guns in National Parks and guns on Amtrak. Mitt Romney has done no such thing. Do we think the NRA has endorsed the wrong man? Maybe.
Why did the NRA endorse Mitt Romney? He is not a gun guy. He is not interested in guns. He doesn't shoot guns. He doesn't hunt. He claimed to have shot some varmints once upon a time in an effort to get on the good side of the gun guys. But really folks, what choice did the NRA have? They could have chosen not to endorse either man but that wouldn't bring out their voters. With the knowledge, though, that Mitt Romney, if elected, would do the bidding of the NRA and would sign any pro gun law that came across his desk, the NRA held its' nose and endorsed anyway. They know that Mitt Romney would sign the National Conceal Carry Reciprocity Act. I don't think that the members of the house who voted in favor of this controversial bill really believe in the provisions of this bill. But they know they must bow down to the NRA or else. Or else what? This bill is just not a good idea considering how many permit holders have been shooting people or leaving their guns around for kids to find of late. If you don't believe me, check out the Ohh Shoot blog and the Kid Shootings blog. I don't make this stuff up. Or look at some of my previous posts about mass shooters or your average every day shooters who have held permits to carry. But never mind, let's continue down this path of destruction and affront to public health and safety.
The NRA has a problem. Neither candidate really embraces their extreme philosophy. They both actually fall into the majority views of Americans who also don't embrace the NRA's extremism. What to do when only the extreme folks like what you are all about? Bully and intimidate. Stop any reasonable solutions to our nation's problem of daily carnage with threats and cajoling. Get your base whipped up with lies and accusations that don't even make sense, given the facts. Tamp down any mention of the gun issue during elections so the public won't get to hear that most candidates, when given the chance, will tell you that they support common sense. Most politicians are not gun guys. Some of them may hunt. All of them have to say they support the Second Amendment as currently interpreted because it is the law of the land. But most also agree with Justice Scalia in the Heller decision that supporting the Second Amendment also means that reasonable restrictions about guns are still in the best interest of us all.
So the myths perpetrated by the NRA continue. They have kept talk of guns off the table. But then, the public wants to know as evident by the question asked in last night's debate. The public is in favor of reasonable gun laws. Even NRA members are in favor of reasonable gun laws ( see link above) You'd never know it this election season, or any election season for that matter. At least President Obama is interested in having a national discussion about the issue. Mitt Romney won't discuss. He will bow down to Wayne LaPierre and the other purveyors of fear and paranoia and contribute to the carnage in America not seen in any other civilized country not at war.
The hypocrisy just keeps coming. Don't believe it. Demand a plan for common sense gun legislation from whomever is elected and don't let the NRA continue to get away with their ludicrous hold on this important national public health and safety issue. We are better than this.
I'm not the only one to think Mitt Romney's response to the question about gun control was stupid and ridiculous, not to mention totally off topic. Check out what this writer said about it:
Indeed. I just had to argue with some commenters about the fact that most guns are owned by men and most gun violence is committed by men. How did single moms get into the mix at all when answering the question? It just shows how totally out of touch Mitt Romney is on not only gun policy but women's issues, family issues, poverty issues, the middle class and a whole host of others.I've written in the past about how tone deaf it is to pretend that women end up as single mothers because they were just too stupid to consider getting married, so no need to rehash it here. Romney followed up this answer by invoking "Fast and Furious," a right wing conspiracy theory that only angry old white dudes who listen to too much talk radio care about, suggesting that the original question so unnerved him that his brain started spitting out random references to right wing bogeymen: Mexicans, single mothers, Eric Holder.Still, blaming single mothers for gun violence (yes, he mentioned single dads too, but there aren’t that many of them) should have easily won the contest for the "Most Appallingly Misogynist Thing to Come out of Romney's Mouth" award. Single mothers are an easy group to pick on. Single mothers don't usually speak up when you demonize them. Why not blame them for gun violence, even though most gun violence (and pretty much all mass gun violence) is committed by men? Unlike the NRA, single moms don't have a lot of money to give, so if they refuse to donate to, say, the Romney campaign, it really can't hurt him.
And this article agrees with me as well, that neither candidate really answered the question well. From the article:
And further from the linked article above:Obama, who has the most to lose by focusing on gun control—most elected Democratic officials see gun control as a loser come Election Day—came out in favor of renewing the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Weapons, he said, “that were designed for soldiers in war theatres don’t belong on our streets.” This was the first time he’s publicly expressed support for the assault weapons ban since assuming office. Party hardliners, who included a call for reenactment of the ban in the 2012 Party Platform, must have been pleased.An assault weapons ban, however, will not make any serious dent in America’s gun violence. When the ban was in effect prior to 2004, it was largely ineffective. The gun manufacturers easily avoided the ban by making slight, mostly cosmetic changes in their rifles and selling them by the hundreds of thousands.Although a ban on the sale of large capacity magazines, which was part of the previous ban and a likely provision in any new one, sounds good, mass killers also have an easy way to get around this. Like James Holmes, the Aurora shooter whose assault rifle jammed up during his horrendous attack, they can just carry multiple guns.In any case, mass shootings aren’t the heart of America’s gun dilemma. Despite all the media attention mass shootings receive, these high-profile and awful incidents count for only a fraction of a percentage of annual gun deaths. As Obama himself noted in the debate, in cities like Chicago “there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They are using cheap hand guns.”Romney also has reason to want to avoid talking about guns. He knows the National Rifle Association has no choice but to support him. This despite concerns by some gun rights advocates about Romney’s record, which includes signing into law an assault weapons ban when he was governor of Massachusetts. Last night, Romney said he believed no new gun laws were necessary.
The Republican nominee also struck a nerve with his conservative base by putting part of the blame for gun violence on single parent homes. “We need moms and dads helping raise kids,” he said, and suggested that children born out of wedlock were more likely to resort to gun violence. But no governmental program is going to stop people from having children out of wedlock or force couples who want a divorce to stay married.
Besides, plenty of killers come from two-parent homes. The list includes both Jared Loughner, who attempted to kill Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, and James Holmes.
Although the candidates differed on their proposals, they were united in one way. They both seemed to share a common misunderstanding about guns. Obama said that part of the solution is to “get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.” He appeared to be referring to the assault weapons the audience member asked about. But assault weapons subject to the ban are not automatic guns. They do not fire more than one round with a single pull of the trigger.
Romney also flubbed this, saying that it is “already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.” While it is true that the sale of newly manufactured machine guns is against the law, there are hundreds of thousands of older machine guns that are lawfully owned by Americans. Indeed, the first thing a visitor to Las Vegas sees are signs advertising gun ranges where you can shoot machine guns.
Is it any wonder then that the candidates offered little in the way of effective solutions? Neither seems to know much about what they are—finally—talking about.
My friend at the New Trajectory blog has written a similar post to mine and he references yet another blog by Andy Pelosi from States United to Prevent Gun Violence. From New Trajectory:
Good for Mayor Bloomberg of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He has the courage to talk straight about the issue of gun violence and the lack of response from our elected leaders.New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the talk from both candidates "gibberish":"Polls show that more than 80 percent of Americans and more than 80 percent of gun owners support some common sense reforms that are bipartisan.""And then they had all this gibberish talking about education. That education is the solution to stop the killing. My recollection is that the Aurora theater shooter? He was a PhD candidate. Ok? The Virgina Tech massacre was committed by a student at a first class university! Gun are a plague and I don't think education is going to keep guns out of the hands of gang members. The solution is to prevent all people who shouldn't have guns from getting them.""Let's get serious," he went on later in his lengthy answer, "these are people who have guns, and the only reason to carry a gun is to use it. To kill people. People who buy assault weapons... Governor Romney signed an assault weapon ban, today he has changed his mind. The President campaigned four years ago that he was going introduce a bill to ban assault weapons, the bill never saw the light of day. Romney said 'oh, well, automatic weapons are already banned.' And yes it is true, machine guns are banned. But a semi-automatic weapon, which is what an AK-47 is, that is not banned. And you can pull a trigger awful fast.""One candidate has had four years to do something and hasn't. And the other candidate says he won't even do what he once did!"