Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
The Hypocrisies of Jim Carrey's "Cold Dead Hand"

Who Sells More Guns: the NRA or Hollywood?

by JOE GIAMBRONE

I’ve seen Cold Dead Hand a couple of times, and I also watched the hysterical responses over at Fox News (sic).  The skit is a well done satire, but suffers from two problems: it’s simplistic, and Carrey himself is guilty of hypocrisy.  The reductionism of the anti-gun lobby is crass and relies on appeals to emotionalism.  Whenever you toss the ball to the other side, and they can respond with reason and logical argument, you’ve essentially shot yourself in the foot.

So, like Stephen King before him, Carrey is outed as hypocritical: he travels with armed bodyguards, something you and I don’t have the luxury of sharing.  One might easily say that armed bodyguards are better than having your own gun.  Now I’m sure Carrey needs this protection in a world of lunatics and star obsessed freaks.  But, aren’t you entitled to some level of protection too?  What makes the fart jokester’s life so fucking important compared to you and your family?

I pointed out previously how Stephen King’s rant exposed him for clinging onto 3 guns himself.  His argument then tried to shift onto large ammunition magazines, without a shred of introspection.  With 3 firearms, could not Stephen King commit a rampage worthy of the evening news?  Even with his limited magazine capacity?  That argument is hollow, particularly when he’s writing to deliberately offend other law abiding gun owners.

Now Jim Carrey has a right to his opinion, and at least he’s making a definitive statement about non-violence.  His band in the clip includes Gandhi, John Lennon and Abraham Lincoln – all murdered by firearms, and thus appropriate to elevate his message and make the point felt.  But narrowing his target to Charlton Heston and the NRA is a simplistic exercise in demonization.  Heston and NRA may be prominent faces, easily understood, but they are representative of many, many millions of Americans who share a similar perspective on self-defense and the right to bear arms (much like Carrey’s bodyguards).

Trying to paint self-defense and the causes of violence in black and white terms is doomed to failure.  That is what I’ve argued previously.  Even Barack H. Obama released a photograph of himself shooting a shotgun, which seems more reasonable than many of the other knee jerk responses floating around the national consciousness lately.

It’s also debatable whether Hollywood sells more guns than the NRA ever could.  Can anyone even recall a gun-free Hollywood film?  Guns are the national aphrodisiac, worshiped on television, in films, in video games, and children are encouraged from a young age to act out violent scenarios, pretending to use guns.  This is the culture we actually live in, a militaristic culture, but it’s so much worse.  The real America is a violent, brutal place of cold blooded competition at every level, where the poor are disposable and left to fight amongst themselves for the scraps of a glutinous, oblivious hyper-power.  The drug war policies have made drug trafficking one of the few real economic opportunities for millions and millions of the underclass.  Education has been gutted, and the manufacturing sector has been off-shored.  America swiftly descends into a third world plutocracy / dictatorship, where violence is the normal everyday reality.  These problems are quite a bit larger than Charlton Heston’s nearly forgotten legacy.

Of course, I haven’t proposed specific policy changes here, but then neither has Jim Carrey.  No one is happy with the status quo, but people keep electing completely corrupt individuals who would be more deserving of prison cells than the esteemed halls of power.  That’s a problem magnitudes greater than anything else we can discuss, because it affects all the other issues.  Nothing legitimate or moral can come from the United States congress when bribed, corrupt charlatans are the majority there.  The White House is more concerned with world domination and monkey-wrenching the Constitution in opposition to the rights of the people, and no one should trust them to do anything positive either.

How many are aware of the new 1.6 billion rounds of 40 caliber hollow point ammunition purchased by “Homeland Security” (sic)?  The 7.000 fully automatic machine guns and the nearly 3,000 Iraq tested, IED resistant armored personnel carriers, laughably painted with the word “Rescue?”  Or even the indefinite detention, drone assassination program, FBI provocateurs creating false terrorism plots all over the nation, the “Disposition Matrix” and total illegal government surveillance of their lives? I’m of the opinion that we have much bigger problems than the occasional maniac, but we can still attempt to address the maniacs.

So What is to be Done?

* We can limit the size of magazines.  Perhaps 6 is safer than 10.  Then again the “West was won” with six shooters, that means the west was also lost by those on the receiving end.  Keep in mind that passing a law does not mean that criminal elements can’t acquire large magazines.  Even 3-D plastic printers have created gun magazines, a new technology that is impossible to contain.  But, let’s say this magazine limiting law passes; it could affect some small number of real world spree shooters.

* We can require psychological background screening.  This would entail a brand new national database of all psychological treatments.  At present, I don’t believe this exists, at least not in daylight.  A way of tracking prescription medications may exist, but of course these are supposed to be subject to confidentiality between doctors and patients.  What would the net effect be of enacting new tracking and surveillance of psychiatric care?  Would this not discourage people from seeking help in the first place?  How will the nuts and bolts of this surveillance work, and how can it be abused and used against the people?  I really do want to know.

* We could ban guns, and have the “Homeland Security” Gestapo attempt to confiscate the nation’s 300,000,000+ private firearms.  If you thought the violence epidemic was bad now … whew.  That could signal instant Civil War, and will not unfold in such a manner.  They prefer the boiling frog strategy.

* We could require locks on all firearms stored at home, with serious penalties for unsecured weapons.  This could reduce some incidents, however keys do end up in the wrong hands.  In the case of a disturbed young man who kills his own mother and uses her weapons to go on a killing spree, this locking up may arguably have done nothing to prevent the rampage.

* We could also form an emergency task force to examine the effects of anti-depressant drugs and their known links to violent rampages.  The FDA’s own warnings scream about violent episodes, suicidal thoughts and irrational behavior.  If we are serious about addressing the issue, the little matter of why people snap and go on murder episodes deserves more than a passing comment.

* We could end the drug war immediately and learn from places like Portugal and The Netherlands.  The RAND Corporation told us nearly 20 years ago that drug treatment is “23 times” more cost-effective than interdiction.  Drugs are primarily a health issue, not a criminal issue.  Their prohibition has failed with alcohol and it has failed with other drugs.  The prohibition fuels the violence and underground economy that tears apart the fabric of society.  Other strategies are called for, immediately.  If the money wasted on the anti-drug police state and prison system was put toward educating the next generation to rise above their poverty and hellish urban slums the problem would mostly disappear.

* We could end the plutocracy, and enact a system where the 1% super rich who defrauded America go unhappily off to jail, while their pillage is redistributed to rebuild our society, its infrastructure, its education system, its health system.  America could start giving a damn again about its majority, rather than the decrepit ghoul billionaires who corrupt everything they touch, beginning with the cesspool called Washington DC.

* We could end the empire, the system of dominating, threatening, invading, occupying, coercing and covertly overthrowing everyone the elites of America don’t like.  We could disempower the plutocrats and their militarism, downsize the war machine and put the military to work developing clean, renewable energy and efficient transportation.

As for the half-truths of the raging gun debates, spewing from both sides routinely (clichés really), I’m not impressed.  Say something plainly, real solutions, real impacts, taking into account the state of the world today.  Battling propaganda snips like Cold Dead Hand are more bluster than solution.  Both sides resort to poor argument and weak scattershot salvos.  Just try counting the number of times the Bill of Rights 2nd Amendment is butchered.  The pro-gun lobby says only the part after the comma; the anti-gun lobby says only the part before the comma, then stops.  Every single time.

Joe Giambrone is an author and filmmaker.  His new novel is Hell of a Deal.