I wasn’t able to attend the St. Louis version March for our Lives in which thousands participated in at least 800 cities over the entire country. An estimated 500,000 showed up for the “mother” march in D.C., there were 20 blocks of marching people in New York – you get the idea; the marches were a big deal. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the downtown St. Louis event (there are other local marches as well) drew at least 10,000 participants, including Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. No Roy Blunt though; he seems to be okay with turning our schools into killing grounds as long as he gets those NRA checks.
There have also been a small sprinkling of pro-gun counter-protests as well, at least fifteen according to one accounting. Counter marches weren’t necessarily that impressive though. The one in Phoenix Arizona only managed to attract about two dozen participants while the Phoenix iteration of the March for our Lives brought out 15,000 marchers. Politicians, take note.
What was impressive about the pro-NRA gun-love demonstrators , though, is how tired and stale their rhetoric has become. It has always been dishonest; what I’m talking about is the fact that it seems at this point to be no more than a parody – and a dull-witted parody at that.
In Montana, which, along with the highest gun ownership rates, has the most gun deaths in the U.S., a local politician proclaimed apropos of the student-inspired rallies that:
I have a basic right that’s not granted by society — it’s granted by God — to self-defense, […] I don’t see how people in society can make the argument that they have the right to take a right from me because one person did something bad.
I have to admit that the gentleman’s narrative did differ from the same ol’, same ol’ reliance on an unsupported belief in an alll-permissive 2nd Amendment. This old boy infers that the right to carry guns is, by virtue of a gargantuan leap of logic, God-given. But by the same logic, don’t I and millions of other Americans have a right to defend ourselves from the legion of often hair-trigger fools who think they need guns to stay safe? As a student attending the Helena March for our Lives put it, “We don’t want anybody’s constitutional rights taken away, [… ] but we don’t want those rights to infringe on others’ rights to be able to exist safely in public spaces.”
Mr. Montana Pro-gun Pol himself bolsters my argument when he insists that his rights might be abrogated “because one person did something bad.” Sorry, but the reason we’re considering regulating guns (as in well-regulated militia, per the Constitution) is that thousands of persons did and continue to do “something bad” with their guns, putting thousands more at risk. The catch-phrase favored by him and his is right. People kill people. Far too often people with guns. It’s just so easy to point and pull a trigger. And when that trigger is on a military-style assault gun – whooee – shooter’s going to town! Consider the fact that since the Parkland, Fla. murder of 17 high school students – a period of 37 days – 73 teenagers have been killed by guns.
Well-indoctrinated gun nuts do usually invoke the Constitution to justify their fury at any suggestion that gun ownership might be regulated in any way, and there were numerous quotes to that effects from folks at the counter-protests who were all hot and bothered because, they contended, the pro-gun control marchers were using their 1st Amendment rights to oppose the 2nd Amendment rights that the pro-gun demonstrators believe they have. Unfortunately, even the Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, that codified the idea of a 2nd Amendment right to private ownership of guns, also seems to have green-lighted common sense regulations of the sort that are currently being promulgated by those folks exercising their 1st Amendment rights:
On pp. 54 and 55, the majority opinion, written by conservative bastion Justice Antonin Scalia, states: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”
The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”
Won’t somebody educate the 2nd Amendment crazies about the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting it?
One attendee at an Indiana counter protest declared with a straight face that, “as a parent I feel horrible for the kids that were killed [… .] But you don’t say, ‘Hey there’s 200 deaths from drinking and driving and now we take all the cars away from people.’”
Newsflash, Dad. Regulating guns doesn’t require confiscation of legal firearms. Nor is the automotive comparison viable. We do regulate (i.e., license) drivers of cars – I personally lack a license because of a physical impairment that makes me a risky driver. You should be glad that I can’t get that license. But plenty of people continue to own and drive cars. There are also age requirements to buy alcohol. These measures may not always be effective or prevent all drinking and driving accidents, but I – and the individual quoted above – are lots safer than we would be because they exist.
When it comes to guns, we know that states with extended background checks, for instance, have had “35 percent fewer gun deaths per capita than those without the requirement. ” And guess what? There are folks in those states, those upstanding gun owners that the NRA likes to pretend that it represents, who continue to own guns in spite of the stronger gun laws. Nobody took away their guns.
Finally, the most stupid stance taken by the pro-gun crowd? Over and over they either called the gun-control marchers leftists, socialists, communists, or naive folks manipulated by leftists, socialists or communists.* Big Whoop. First, it’s not true; polls suggest that even a fair number of Republicans believe guns should be better regulated and there was Republican support for the March for our Lives. Those tired political labels are losing their power to scare anyone born later than 1960. Armed right-wing militias are lots scarier to many of us.
To borrow a slogan from a sign photographed at one of gun control rallies today, “Guns don’t kill people …. er, yes, they do.”
*ADDENDUM (3/25/18, 2:48): In addition the NRA is claiming the high schoolers are puppets of “Hollywood elites” and “gun-hating millionaires” – which is rich coming from an organization that, along with the the Kochs and the rest of the dark money cabal, now owns most GOP politicians who are, once again, toeing the NRA line.