A modest proposal to end gun violence in America.
With no apologies to Jonathan Swift, with whose work this would never be compared.
The pandemic is a hoax. Oh I don’t mean a hoax as our idiotic former president used to claim—that the virus would melt away in the sunshine last April. No, Covid-19 is as advertised, a killer. Still killing.
But we were wrong thinking that it was a one-off, a once-in-a-century plague, a situation for which we were justifiably ill-prepared and therefore right in shutting down the country, the states, and ourselves.
It was some of those, but it was not a one-off; and now that the worst of it appears to be over—or may be, depending on our near-term behavior (q.v. Miami Beach)—we can put this into better perspective.
America has reopened for business, and the business of America is to sweep the most obvious and pressing problems under the most convenient rug and hope no professional cleaner ever arrives to peek under it. We’ve done it with race, with immigration, with the imbalance of wealth, with violence toward women, and—as we have been reminded again of late—guns. And the vaunted return to normalcy has left us with two mass shootings in one week. America is open for business and the business of America is (sorry, Mr. Coolidge) gun violence.
And so before the next lunatic toddles into a gun shop and legally purchases a weapon because the legal purchase of a weapon is almost illegally easy, I offer a modest proposal in three parts:
1. Without retracing the litany of gun violence even within the past decade, let’s agree to issue a statement to the world that the proliferation of guns is a bi-partisan problem but the elected Republicans’ fault.
2. Let’s also agree that, if after every shooting, the Democrats in Congress proffer some variation of firearms sanity and the Republicans spout some palaver about the Second Amendment, that the shootings themselves—from Newtown to Boulder—be declared the Republican Party's fault and every Republican who has formally voted down gun safety legislation be held criminally responsible.
3. Finally, let's have the NRA war chest, now somewhat depleted, expropriated for use in providing means for victims of gun violence, especially—but not limited to— families who have lost breadwinners; and that when this money runs out, the Republican party must sell off properties such as golf resorts and hotels to make up the difference.
There may be a few faint-hearted individuals who will find this proposal more draconian than modest, but I would ask them to read the thumbnail sketches of the Boulder victims, or the Atlanta victims, or Parkland, or El Paso.
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These people had families, dreams, hopes, stories to tell very much like ours. They were more than just victims. As one man said, concerning one of the dead, “I don’t want her name to be another name next to an age on a list,” but for many of us, that’s what she will remain.
And that’s exactly what the Republicans in Congress are counting on to maintain their woebegone offerings of "thoughts and prayers," or maybe, as with the pandemic, they've already taken the next step. On Tuesday Mitch McConnell spoke on the floor of the Senate and ignored the shooting entirely...as if it never happened...as if it were another hoax in the America that is now open for business.