FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Next Stage of Gun Control

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Yes, civil discourse can be uncivil.  But don’t let internet trolls and television zealots stop you from participating in this vital discussion.

-Terri Francis, CNN Wire, Jan 17, 2013

This is a war waged at high intensity, a vicious tonic of propaganda, fear and suspicion.  It should not be, but the battle over guns in the U.S. has taken various turns in recent weeks.  President Obama is promising to be firmer this time.  Commentators are weighing in from as far as Australia on how the next chapter on gun control will be written.  In addition to moving on assault weapons, the Vice President Joe Biden has suggested a stricter regime of background checks at stores and gun shows, and the outlawing of capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard, a long-time, dyed-in-wool conservative, gave himself time to pen a piece for the New York Times (Jan 16) on how a state filled with guns and gun enthusiasts might remove such weapons.  In April 1996, Martin Bryant mowed down 35 people in the quiet state of Tasmania with a semiautomatic SKS assault weapon.  Howard’s reaction was to introduce legislation, with the help of state legislatures, banning and confiscating assault weapons through a buy-back scheme funded by a one-off tax on Australian citizens.  Rural constituents fumed, but complied.

For Howard, there was no other way.  No massacre of that sort has been perpetrated since. Gun suicides have dramatically fallen. (This has not re-dressed the high suicide rate by other means.)

Given that he was not of the “nanny” state, “leftist” persuasion, he might be worth listening to from the conservative fold, but his views are unlikely to find their way onto the website of the NRA, which is a humming gun fantasy on steroids and vast cash payments.

The NRA website is an idealogue’s dream portal, a phantasmagoria of shifting images that would have made the propagandists of the Inquisition swell with pride.   As Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) explained on CNN’s State of the Union interview (Jan 15), this is the NRA, not of gun owners, but gun manufacturers.

The shifting images on the main website alternate as relevant news headlines run across the bottom of the screen.  It is also a site that seemingly screeches at you with the message of war, actual and metaphorical.  Traitors are found, apocalypse is nigh.  Such statements are easy to make in an environment where almost 300 million guns can be found.  “Anti-gun politicians are wasting no time,” goes one message, in disarming the U.S.  We read that heavy assault weapons are perfectly suited for civilians – you just need the right one for your needs. Statements from the new and initiated members after the Sandy Hook killings are recorded.

One such newly proselytised recruit is the “Tea Party favourite” Wayne Allyn Root.  They might have settled for a less conspicuous member of the fringe, but he will do.  The propaganda boxes to be ticked here to counter various assumptions: Is this man a dangerous clown, an insufferable hick, a person more familiar with his animals than people and otherwise inadequate from bed room to kitchen?  No – from the start, he claims he is Mr. Regular, “not your typical NRA member.”  The bombshell – “I’m Jewish, Ivy League (Columbia University, class of ’83, President Obama’s classmate), and have been a member of the mainstream media”.

So he could not, historically at least, join a club courtesy of waspish prejudice – but at least he could own a device for maiming and massacring by the grace of constitutional protection.

Root’s mental cosmos is confused but not indecipherable.  Why ban guns in places where massacres take place in areas of strictest gun control? (One would think the answer lies in that question – a massacre can’t, by definition, take place where control is “strict”.) “It only disarms the honest, law-abiding citizens, who are left helpless and defenceless.”  Root reveals the true journalist’s skill to obfuscate and delude – a law is not in of itself control, and it can hardly be said to be “strict” in the absence of compliance.  Members of Congress shirk their obligations to protect the public in the name of constitutional freedoms and local legislatures look the other way.  But no matter – those who get guns, in any case, are the lucky “criminals” who unleash hell’s message against the unarmed.

The NRA message is continuous and furious.  Anti-gun agendas are being pursued instead of a reporting of the facts; “I am the man who keeps you free; we, the people, deserve better than you,” comes a statement from a marine to Senator Dianne Feinstein.  Again, there is a persistent, and dangerous assumption that the battlefield is total – it includes the far flung deserts of Afghanistan, and the American family home.

Change can, of course, take place and it need not be of the idiotic sort. The NRA’s disproportionate power can be boxed, as long as the amoral pygmies in Congress can adjust their positions.  The Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 are examples of this, however imperfect.  This is where the democratic impulse finds form, not in the hysterical minority of a sleek, panic-stricken collective keen on seeking apocalypse on the hill.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail