What’s behind America’s hateful massacres?

A Charleston County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Dylann Roof. Reuters

A Charleston County Sheriff’s Office booking photo of Dylann Roof. (Reuters)

Cynthia: Mike, when the Republican Party passes a law to make freedom-loving states like Maine fly the NRA flag on its capitol dome, should it take a super-majority vote of the Legislature to fly it at half staff after mass shootings, or a simple majority?

Mike: Oh, come on Cynthia. Republicans prefer to let states make their own decisions — remember “federalism?” I don’t think any state should routinely fly flags associated with other countries or anti-U.S. rebellions, but it isn’t something that should take up Congress’ time.

Cynthia: Allegiance to the National Rifle Association by the GOP is so faithful, it’s just a matter of time before there’s a salute for every gun vote taken and contribution check cashed. And if the GOP were such “federalist” stalwarts, Republicans in Washington would not be prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms from banning armor-piercing bullets. States that supply body armor to their local cops would make that decision, right? Here’s another question for you, Mike: If Maine passes the “constitutional carry” law that lets virtually everyone carry a concealed weapon, and passes the law that denies asylum-seekers general assistance, can cold and hungry refugees use guns to kill bears for food?

Mike: Isn’t having democratically elected federal representatives react to the proposals of a federal agency the essence of “federalism?” Especially when the proposal is subsequently recognized by the Obama administration as wrong-headed and withdrawn? As for bear-hunting asylees, the answer is no — but that is due to the stupidity of our immigration laws. It’s the same system that permits temporary workers into the country as long as they promise to leave, but prevents asylum seekers who want to join our nation from getting a job. Wouldn’t letting them work be a better answer than writing GA checks?

Cynthia: Letting them work and eat would be my preference, but then again I think stupid is a state that baits bears with human food to kill them for “sport” while denying food to humans because of the color of their skin. Stupid are laws that let angry racists carry assault rifles and waive confederate flags. Sportsmen use handguns with armor-piercing bullets to hunt as much as the confederate flag symbolizes “freedom.” The GOP’s obsession with guns and “freedom” to dislike immigrants is so powerful, Mike, what’s next, the Statue of Liberty waving an NRA flag?

Mike: So are New York, Massachusetts and Illinois full of racists because they are not as generous to asylum seekers as Maine? Or do those very blue states recognize resources are limited and thus do not promise everything to everyone? It isn’t racism, it’s reality. And we’ve been over this — the Second Amendment isn’t about sportsmen. But let me flip the question back to you: what guns should we have in this country? And who should have the freedom to keep them? Maybe we can come to an agreement, sound “retreat” to all those firearm flags you keep finding, and get the NRA to sponsor bear hunts for immigrants.

Cynthia: I know. I know. Every time there’s a mass shooting, I go on and on about unnecessary gun violence thanks to the NRA and Republicans, and when innocent black people are gunned down by a white supremacist in a church I prattle on about race discrimination. I can’t help it.

Who cares what’s happening in other states when on the heels of the Charleston tragedy, Maine is on the verge of passing yet another gun-addict law while scorning “illegals?” Our state is on a dangerous path littered with guns and bigotry. Every other industrialized country has laws that reasonably regulate guns, and they have significantly less gun violence as a result. Who in the Republican Party will be our generation’s Margaret Chase Smith about senseless gun violence and declare a new conservative consciousness?

Mike: The problem isn’t guns, Cynthia. Let’s play a guessing game. This person was mentally unwell, clung to an ideology of hate, and used whatever they could get their hands on to commit violence against others. Who is it? Your choices are Dylann Roof, Lee Boyd Malvo, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The fact is individuals make choices; guns and pressure cookers don’t do it for them. If we’re looking for countries with very little gun violence, let’s go to another federalist system: Switzerland. Their government gives weapons out with training on how to use them!

Or look at Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont: we all have high rates of firearm ownership with low homicide rates. The declaration of American conscience should be against ideologies of hate, whether racial or religious. This focus on firearms misses the forest — where we all agree — for the trees.

Cynthia: No, actually the presence of millions of guns are a really, really big problem, Mike! America is exceptional in so many ways, but hate knows no borders. There are evil people around the globe, but the U.S. has significantly more gun massacres as a direct result of having more guns floating around. It’s simple math and applied science. Look at Connecticut! Gun permitting reduced gun killings by 40 percent! The ideology of hate most responsible for our homegrown terrorism is white supremacy and anti-government conservatism. You know, the kind of folks who use the word “freedom” as a dog whistle and wave flags other than Old Glory.