The day after Dayton, Ohio, suffered a murder spree at the hands of yet another disaffected young man with nothing to live for, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine went there to speak at a vigil for the victims. The crowd wasn't having it. I should qualify that and say part of the audience wasn't having it. I doubt they came to the vigil to hear the governor in the first place. What was on their mind was to send him, and by extension, all Republicans holding state and national offices, a message. They shouted him down with the chant “do something.”
For all that message lacks in substance it's not hard to discern what they have in mind. They'd like to see a whole lot less guns in private hands. They'd like to see whole categories of guns and ammunition magazines banned, maybe even confiscated. They see the Republican Party complicit in the bloody trade in weapons of mass destruction. They believe they're bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association, the NRA, which in turn serves the interests of gun dealers and manufacturers. Republican lawmakers turn their eyes from the destruction resulting from their policies while lining their pockets with NRA loot.
The list of Republican crimes doesn't end there. Apparently, Trump inspired the El Paso shooter to kill in an effort to stop immigration from Mexico and Central America. Hasn't that been Trump's message all along? Hasn't he said immigrants from south of the border are rapists, drug dealers and murderers? Hasn't he told them to go back where they come from? Hasn't he incited violence against them? Hasn't he called the white supremacists at Charlottesville “good people?” Well, no, but why let that get in the way of a good story?
We could talk about the facts. I could explain for the 100th time in this and other forums that this isn't what the president said at all, nor what he stands for. Politicians will continue to twist his words nonetheless. Certain constituencies will go on believing just what they want to believe. The press will go on lying about him. Like Goebbels said, "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you'll come to believe it yourself.” Or was that P.T. Barnum? I've decided that this may be a futile discussion. I'm not going to convince anyone. Tribal warfare surrounds us. Hide behind a tree. Keep your head down.
There's another place that left and right will never meet, and gun control lies right across that fault line. The right insists the individual is sovereign. An armed citizenry is consistent with this view of sovereignty. The left is less enamored with that kind of sovereignty. Sovereignty belongs to the state or the people together. The state's on top, we're below. This is a visceral difference. It's even deeper than that; we carry it in our DNA. If you're inclined to think that your rights are handed down to you by the state you probably see no problem with mass gun confiscation as in Canada or Australia. What the government giveth it may taketh away.
I understand comprehensive gun confiscation. While it's daft and unworkable, at least it's honest. If someone actually wants to eliminate mass shootings or reduce them significantly through gun control, then that's your best shot. Understand you'll have a civil war on your hands that would make the last one look tame. When that's over and all guns are out of civilian hands, shootings will drop. Beto O'Rourke has recently called for something like this.
Take away just assault type rifles and people are going to use other firearms. With hundreds of millions of guns out there, getting your hands on one of them isn't hard. Even criminals who are barred from owning weapons don't have much trouble getting whatever they need.
While banning assault rifle sales won't have much effect that may not be the point. Where human life is concerned, even making things a little better is better than nothing at all. One life spared, or two lives; even a little is enough. So there we are. Maybe right and left can meet after all. I'd add red flag laws to the mix, background checks and better monitoring of people who fit the mass shooter profile. Let's limit magazine capacity to 10 bullets. Anything that helps belongs on the table. Let's do something.