Let me just say upfront, before I begin, that I’ll support a centrist, DINO Democrat any day over a full-fledged, rabid rightwing GOPer (and there is no other kind allowed in today’s GOP). They’ve all infuriated me, but I’ll still vote for coal-loving McCaskill, her balanced-budget pal, Jason Kander, and once-upon-a-time-Republican, born-again-sort-of-Democrat Chris Koster. That given, I’m still appalled by Missouri Democratic politicians’ efforts to pander to an almost imaginary center right demographic.
This personal emotional conflict was reactivated in spades when Chris Koster was endorsed by the red-meat, GOP base-baiting National Rifle Association (NRA) in a statement asserting that Koster has “a proven record of fighting to preserve the Second Amendment.” Given the way that the NRA has been trying to expand the scope of how we understand the 2nd amendment, that’s an endorsement that pretty much relegates Koster’s gun views into cray-cray territory. You remember the old Bob Dylan song, “Rainy Day Women,” where “everybody must get stoned”? In the NRA version, everybody must get armed. All the time. Everywhere. And shoot at will. It’s a damn scary world, they say.
But Koster’s not dumb. He knows that there are plenty of folks who believe that by their friends ye shall know them. So he has decided to try to let us know that while he’s not adverse to being identified with the NRA, given the 2nd amendment fetish of lots of mostly rural and suburban Missourians, he does plan to do something to combat gun violence. Urban, African-American gun-violence, that is.
Koster makes this clear in the following excerpt from a mass campaign email (paragraphs have been condensed):
I remember walking down Tucker Boulevard in St. Louis with my dad when I was a young boy. But, today, St. Louis is too often plagued by gunfire and killings, and it has become one of the most dangerous cities in the country. We cannot accept this.
As a prosecutor, I put many of Missouri’s worst criminals behind bars. As your next governor, I will fight urban gun violence head-on. [ …] Together, we can rebuild trust in our communities and give police the tools they need to keep us safe.
The email links to a video ad that spells it all out even more clearly, using all the appropriate code words and phrases. The video enumerates the steps Koster would take to combat “urban” crime in, specifically, St. Louis:
- Regain the trust of honest/innocent people by supplying witness protection.
- Give police the tools to fight urban violence.
- Deny bail to “criminals” caught carrying guns.
- Give felons who commit gun crimes long sentences with no chance for parole.
Whew! Tough enough for you!
First, I’m sure there are folks who would perhaps be willing to testify only if offered witness protection, but if Koster is really concerned with regaining the trust of “honest” folks (i.e., non-criminal African-Americans), he also needs to address what he proposes to do to insure police accountability.
Second, what tools is he proposing to give police? Bigger guns than those available to street criminals? That’s a lost cause given all the great big guns (many stolen from less than intrepid “good guys” with guns) in circulation. A policy of “broken windows” policing – let the would-be tough guys on the force run wild? Nothing like installing a police state to regain trust.
Third, Koster seems to be pushing for the retrograde type of sentencing laws that have over-crowed our prisons and destroyed communities , while ignoring the success of “gun courts” that substitute the use of social programs in lieu of prison sentences.
And not a word about the root problem. Guns.
There’s a reason we’re talking gun violence. One judge who is enthusiastic about gun courts explained their failure to cure the problem by noting that “there’s just too many guns out there. You can’t arrest your way out of the problem, you can’t confiscate your way out of the problem.”
Somebody tell that to Chris Koster. Please.