Thursday, January 10, 2013

Really, Really Bad Idea

Just a short post this morning, on the topic of astoundingly bad ideas.

The national debate on how to minimize gun violence is heating up, and various ideas are being floated by all sides. The NRA and its supporters, as you might suspect, argue strongly that the way to reduce gun violence is to make sure everyone is armed to the teeth, others advocate better mental health care, improved background checks on gun purchasers, restrictions on where guns can be carried, banning certain types of guns, etc.

We might even try - gasp! - being polite to each other! Robert Heinlein once wrote in his 1942 novel Beyond This Horizon that,

"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

While this quote has taken on the status of a holy mantra for the extreme right, it should be noted that some of us were raised to be polite without having to pack heat. It's sad that parents don't teach that any more.

It's clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The Second Amendment to the Constitution does grant people the right to "keep and bear arms," and the Supreme Court has upheld this right as independent from the pesky Constitutional language about "well-regulated militias." There are very few issues that will evoke as passionate and visceral a response as the least attempt to rein in the proliferation of weapons.

Now for the really bad idea.

According to Vice President Biden, President Obama is considering the use of executive orders - presidential directives - to help prevent mass shootings.

Whoa, big fella, whoa!!

The damage has probably already been done, but let me just say this about that.

Any attempt to do anything about gun violence that involves an executive order plays into the worst paranoid fantasies of the extreme right about supposed tyrannical governments that trample on their rights*. Sorry, Mr President ... I understand your frustration about our inability to act in a sane and responsible fashion on this topic, but while issuing executive orders may be an appealing solution, it can only make things worse in an already-overheated environment rampant with paranoid stupidity.

I don't know what the answer is, but I know that it isn't issuing an EO. Please go back to the negotiating table, as difficult and frustrating as it is, and keep trying. Nothing will happen because the NRA and its far-right supporters won't let it happen, but at least you won't fan the flames any more.

You're welcome.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


* Go back and read yesterday's post if you haven't seen it yet. We're worrying about the wrong things.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Heinlein's idea is siplistic -- much like arguing that the code duello made for a politer society.

And I agree with you: an Executive Order by the Prez would just feed paranoia.

I hope that at least a ban on assault rifles might come out as a best case that might be broadly accepted.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Issuing an executive order would only be a P.R. ploy: an empty gesture rather than have practical outcomes. Yes, it would induce more paranoia on the right; no, it would not reduce the likelihood of mass shootings.

The fact is that there are a lot of people who don't trust their government.

Dave Hess said...

You're probably right, Bilbo. And that's really, really sad.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

Unfortunately, not enough people respect the President to follow the Executive Order. I can imagine those crackers complying.