Mike: So Washington, courtesy of your party, is going to debate how many rounds a magazine should hold. Is there a magic number?
Cynthia: The magic number is 44. Thirty Republicans in the House plus 14 in the Senate are needed to join Democrats to pass common-sense gun reform.
And who knows? Now that a majority of Americans, including African-Americans, are reported to support gun rights, Congress might finally do something to restrict them. Reverse psychology is very powerful when dealing with toddlers young and old.
Mike: Yes, Americans — like Portland’s former police chief — are realizing that bad people with guns are generally stopped by good people with guns. So it probably is time for Congress to muck it up when a national consensus is emerging. Only, in reverse toddler fashion, they’ll try to take our guns and go home.
Cynthia: The problem is stupid people with guns. What do we do about them?
Congress doesn’t worry so much about wingnuts because where they work and vote against gun legislation, no guns are allowed. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Those who pontificate about the glory of guns in the U.S. Senate prohibit them in the chamber. And that’s not all — in April of 2013 when votes were being cast against regulating firearms, I was reprimanded for having a pen in the Senate gallery! No guns and no pens allowed — to protect the safety of our senators.
Who were the good people that day? Parents forbidden from bringing pens into the capitol while pleading for laws to protect kids from guns in schools, or the senators who voted against such reforms in the comfort of a gun-free zone?
Mike: “I sing of arms and the pen.” It’s a remix of Virgil with the first and second amendments. Interesting that arms and pens were both necessary to incite and win the American Revolution, while one body entrusted with that heritage forbids their presence.
Anyway, we can’t outlaw stupidity, although that would be the simplest solution. Maybe we should educate instead? After all, firearms are merely tools, and, like most tools, people need to be taught to use them correctly. Schools once had interscholastic rifle teams and kids brought their shotguns in after hunting in the morning — they weren’t “gun free.” With gun crimes decreasing significantly across the country as ownership increases, are education and exposure the answer?
Cynthia: Invoking ancient Roman poets won’t elevate the stupidity of America’s gun laws. I realize you’re young, Mike, but trust me. There were no assault weapons before Christ.
Gun violence in schools is not decreasing and is pervasive in America. Researchers report 308 shootings and 86 deaths every day. Our rate of gun violence is seven times higher than Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
How can so many Republicans vote against obvious good-government public safety policies like background checks? Is the NRA endorsement that powerful?
Mike: “Young” is a relative term, just like those deaths you cite. Over 70 percent of them are suicides. Someone making the choice to end his or her life could do it in a myriad of ways if firearms magically disappeared. All the background checks in the world won’t change that, the same way making schools “gun free zones” hasn’t ended violence there.
Republicans generally take the position that we have enough laws and not enough enforcement. Let’s go after criminals — whether they are domestic abusers or heroin traffickers — with the resources we have, rather than spend it creating paperwork and hotlines. Seriously, why do we require a permit in Maine to carry a pistol under your jacket when no such permit is required to carry one openly? It’s bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake!
Cynthia: Between GOP-sponsored open-carry “rights” and the “right” to stand your ground and use deadly force when you’re afraid, no paperwork should be necessary. Stupid-looking guys carrying big guns in public are scary, so any “good guy” standing around has a paperless option, right?
Scared of that guy with a big gun slung over his shoulder in the park? Bang. Problem solved. A so-called “free market” solution Republicans love to harp about — or just stupidity for stupidity’s sake.
Mike: We’ve got reasonable guys and gals with guns all over, wearing sheriff’s uniforms, police badges, and military rank. Why are they “good” in uniform but suspicious when off-duty or retired? Talk about stupidity. And does serving in a uniform magically make you a better marksman or better person than a law-abiding citizen who doesn’t?
In 1903, Congress chartered the civilian marksmanship program. Firearms — then as now — were tools which, with practice and instruction, could be used to defend yourself, your property, and your country. What do you think? I’ll cede the Republican “free market” approach for a Democratic “government program” solution, and we’ll just expand the CMP to schools. Deal?
Cynthia: An individual training mandate for all who wish to carry a firearm could work for me. We’ll call it Obamaschool. For tools.