Most U.S. politicians chose to voluntarily cordon off Friday as a ‘no politics’ zone.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was one notable and ghoulish exception, swiftly and symbolically standing atop the bodies of the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre victims as his dais and the nation’s brimming fear as his amplifier to offer simplistic solutions for a problem no civilization in history—no matter how advanced its weaponry or authoritarian its government—has been able to eliminate.
Bloomberg received ample and well-deserved scorn from the usual suspects in conservative talk radio and cable news, but he was not the only politician to take advantage of the crisis for personal political gain.
Closer to home, Darcy Burner—Democratic candidate in Washington State’s crowded 1st Congressional District primary—leapt onto her own soapbox in a post Friday morning at Daily Kos, an appeal for more gun control in which Burner neglected to mention the culpability of the shooter—the man whose alleged actions snuffed out 12 lives and forever scarred hundreds more—in favor of directing blame at the National Rifle Association. Even mentioning Friday’s victims seemed a distracting obligation on Burner’s way to emoting about how acts of evil involving guns have emotionally affected her:
Earlier today, a gunman walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where people were watching the midnight showing of the new Batman movie. He fired gas canisters into the crowd, and then opened fire. At least 12 people are dead and 59 people are injured. My heart and prayers go out to all of them.
On the day Gabby Giffords was shot, I was picking up my son Henry from a lesson when I got the text message saying there had been a shooting. I’d campaigned with Gabby in 2006. Henry didn’t understand why I’d stopped getting into the car and started crying.
Walking back from a haircut the other day, I passed Café Racer, where on May 30th a gunman walked in and killed four people.
It’s time we had an adult conversation in this country about guns.
Burner is right, but an adult conversation involves something more than using the presence of fear to forge public policies that make comforting yet impossible promises of safety. An adult conversation requires more than self-indulgent wringing of one’s hands while the horror of day’s evil has not even begun to subside. It certainly does not sound anything like what Burner wrote in conclusion:
As a country, though, we have not had a real conversation about guns in many, many years. The National Rifle Association (NRA) threatens the career of any politician who so much as opens the conversation. …
It’s time we took steps to stop the mass killings.
It’s time we had an adult conversation about guns in this country. The NRA can go to hell.
When adults do choose to consider the question Burner feverishly wants to rush us to decide (perhaps we will do so after observing a period of respect for those who truly are dealing with the trauma of their actual experience of hell on earth), the rational dialogue should begin with a wise agreement, a mature understanding that life before the invention of the firearm did not come packaged with any more or less guarantees than it does today.
The adults talking will recognize that our laws cannot be a product only of our fears, especially when the result of those laws is to deprive law-abiding citizens of what may initially seem to be modest degrees of freedom. We will make our decisions knowing that any promise that an America without guns would be an America without mass killings is a false one.
UPDATE 7/21/12 9:25 a.m.: Burner’s rapid response to use Aurora as a convenient political tool, in fact, happened predictably first on Twitter. At 8:41 a.m. Pacific Time, Burner tweeted the following:
Then, Saturday morning, Burner went in for a second bite of the apple:
Of course, Burner is now in familiar territory by perpetuating lies. Lamott’s statistic is false.
In 1994, right here in Washington State, a gunman opened fire on personnel at Fairchild Air Force Base, killing four and wounding 22 before a base security officer returned fire and ended the spree before the final nineteen rounds in the attacker’s magazine could be used.
If a military response does not fit Burner’s parameters to qualify as a massacre halted by return fire, maybe something even more recent has escaped her memory but probably not the memories of Coloradans.
It was only December 2007 when another crazed shooter walked into the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado and began shooting, killing 4 within a few moments of entering the building. Officials stated that the quick action of an armed security guard, Jeanne Assam, to take down the gunman saved between 50 and 100 lives.
Until now, Burner’s tendency for exaggerations and lies has only impacted her own resume. Voters should think long and hard if they really want to elect an ideological bomb-thrower to sit at the grownup’s table where our laws are made.
[featured photo credit: flickr]