Only in America

Sometimes, nothing captures the truth like satire.  The Onion:

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

And nobody writes better about America’s gun insanity than Adam Gopnik:

Was it a jihadist or just a guy?” So the seventeen-year-old girl asks, on hearing the news, landing at once on the central black-comedy question as the annals of American mass murder expand this morning. If the author of the at least fifty dead and more wounded—the word “wounded,” of course, fails to capture the extent of the maiming, just as the blank word “dead” fails to capture the dawning of grief for so many families—was someone who had, even once, communicated with or been radicalized by isis, no matter how remote or long-distance that radicalization, or if he was merely a Muslim from a Muslim country, then a massive act of terrorism would have been committed and a militant response, including travel bans and broad suspensions of rights, would be essential. If it was just one more American “psycho,” then all we can do is shrug and, as the occupant of the Oval Office put it, send “warmest condolences and sympathies…” President Trump, deprived from birth by some genetic accident of all natural human empathy—one should listen to a recently recovered tape of Trump, speaking to Howard Stern, in which he is actually boasting of his indifference to a man he thought was dying—speaks empathy as a foreign language and makes the kinds of mistakes we all make in a second language that we have barely mastered, placing adjectives in places that no native speaker ever would. Who sends warmest anything to the families of murder victims? [emphases mine] Vice-President Mike Pence, who is not a sociopath, merely a Republican, knew that the right language is the language of bafflement, talking about “senseless violence” and the rest.

So far, all signs are that it was just a guy—just one more American killer who got his hands on some collection of weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing people, and who then killed people. We know that if it was a Muslim with a foreign name, we would be in full panic mode and all we would be hearing about is the ever-greater dangers of terrorism. Indeed, the killings in France, on Sunday, which were surely terrorism, have already begun to attract that kind of attention from the right wing here. But when it happens here, what we’re told by the entire power structure of American life—both houses of Congress, the White House, and now the Supreme Court, locked and loaded to sustain the absurd and radical pro-gun ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller—is that there is nothing at all to be done, save to pray.

The facts remain facts. Gun control acts on gun violence the way antibiotics act on infections—imperfectly but with massive efficacy. 

And Ryan Lizza:

“In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos,” Trump said. “Some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy.”

Perhaps he was speaking about the difficulty of losing a loved one in such horrific circumstances, but it also sounded like he was talking about doing anything—anything at all, in terms of public policy—about the epidemic of gun deaths in America. Near the end of his speech, Trump said that “even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.” If your hope was that Washington would start to grapple with a response to the crisis of mass shootings, the President didn’t offer a single ray.

German Lopez with just how much of an outlier America is on all this.  Well worth reading.  A couple key charts:

A chart shows America’s disproportionate levels of gun violence.

Gun ownership tightly correlates with gun violence.

But… freedom!

Nicholas Kristoff with totally common-sense policy changes we are not making.

And, as always, re-upping on Gary Wills, “Our Moloch.”

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Only in America

  1. Mike in Chapel Hill says:

    Take a look at the states that are high in gun ownership but well below the line in gun deaths per 100,000. Then tell me that guns are solely the problem. There are other important forces at work, and gun control probably would have little effect on those forces. Also, how angry do you think the people in those states (WI, the Dakotas, Iowa…) are at liberals and Democrats who constantly call for more restrictions on guns when the real world and direct experience of these folks is to be awash in guns but with very little gun violence? From their perspective it is a ridiculous argument not supported by reality. Therefore there must be some other agenda. Gun control arguments in these states simply do not comport with the reality that these people live with. It only angers and alienates them. Sort of the way trickle down economics angers many on the left: weakly supported by empirical evidence but accepted as a matter of faith by supporters.

    • Jeremy Tarone says:

      A couple of outliers and anecdotal evidence. Outliers that appear to be low population states.
      Faith does indeed appear to be a problem for some.
      BTW, gun control can mean nothing more than sensible regulations that are enforced.

      I can see why those poor put upon folk would be upset. Who wants to be told by the gubberment that they need to keep their loaded firearms out of the reach of two year olds? Or that it’s wrong to give a 5 year old a rifle and let him play with it unsupervised?

      Damn interfering gubberment!

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