Making more wrong-headed history about guns

Maybe unbeknownst to us “normals” there was a wager going among the loonies who unfortunately walk the corridors of power, to determine who first would move to have American society tagged as hopelessly deranged, given how it is prepared to treat with the firearms proliferation issue. Let the record show that the state legislature in Georgia and the governor claimed the prize for that dubious honor last week with the so-called “guns everywhere” legislation that the governor signed into law.

Ready as ever to reaffirm for all who were willing to listen that this was no outlier action on Georgia’s part was GOP presidential aspirant (past and maybe current) Rick Santorum. He asserted on the CBS “Face the Nation” program that, with respect to Georgia’s new law allowing guns in certain parts of airports, “I don’t think this is going to encourage some bad guy to cause harm at the airport, but if something bad does happen, there’ll be someone there to stop it.” At least it can’t be said of Santorum that he’s fuzzy on the issue. “A well armed America is a safer America,” he declared. The NRA high command and their bedfellows probably fired off a few rounds in celebration, upon hearing Santorum’s ringing endorsement!

We need to be clear in our minds that it is indeed a would-be President of the United States regaling us with this level of insanity. The former Pennsylvania senator evidently couldn’t be happier about parading his hand-in-glove affinity with the gun lobby. He had lost his Senate seat by the time those modest gun-control measures – background checks and limiting magazine clip size – came up in Congress in wake of the Sandy Hook school tragedy, and got defeated despite lopsided public support. No question Santorum would have been among those defying overwhelming popular sentiment and continuing to stand firm in the good graces of the NRA and company.

The firearms proliferation matter remains perhaps our definitive example of democracy gone awry. The disproportionate degree of influence the gun lobby exercises over elected officials is an outright scandal. To our collective shame it was given some big-screen projection when Congress decided that, presented with an opportunity to take principled action on behalf of the young victims of Sandy Hook and so many others, balking was the best it could do.

The gun lobby does not discriminate, of course, as far as who gets targeted in its determination to mow down all impediments in its maniacal obliteration of whatever smacks of good sense in the gun debate. Like the Capitol Hill crowd, state lawmakers in Georgia also had the NRA to answer to, when debate came up on a bill to expand the locations to which firearms carriers had access, to include bars, schools, some government offices and places of worship among others. True to form, the Republican majority in the legislature flexed its muscles, to the delight of gun rights crazies, and even had a bit of Democratic support by the time they got to the final version of the legislation passed and sent to Gov. Nathan Deal.

This literal adherence to the language of the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms” clause is nothing but a handy contrivance by movers and shakers on that side of the argument who well know said language was written in a far different time and circumstances. This is a non-existent consideration, naturally, as gun-rights advocates continue to demagogue the issue to the population sector for whom it has resonance. In Georgia, one news report quoted a police source as saying he anticipated that trouble arising down the road from the new law would trigger demands for the law to be tweaked, albeit pushback against such meddling was a given. And surely there are no limits to the kinds of “trouble” the “guns everywhere” legislation could provoke – from airport incidents quite different from Santorum’s glossed-over scenario to a multiplicity of possible human emotion flare-ups. Not to mention the pause the worrisome combination of booze and guns in a bar should have given to crafters of this outrageous piece of legislation. One Democratic member of the state legislature reportedly commented, soberly, that he wondered what God proponents of the law prayed to, if they found it necessary to go to church with a gun.

Georgia’s adopting, in very proud and deliberate fashion, this symbol of 19th century frontier life necessarily begets speculation as to how fares the state’s reputation, going forward from the new law’s July 1 implementation. One expects that any untoward happening(s) seemingly tied to the irresponsible scaling back of gun-carry restrictions would certainly have repercussions none too pleasing, even to the measure’s staunch advocates. Even absent unfortunate mishaps, a different vibe developing about Georgia, particularly among outsiders, would be no surprise, the “guns everywhere” handle not one folks would think especially welcoming.

One thinks too of the impact of the ill-advised reversion to yesteryear on Georgia’s people of color component. African Americans comprise more than half of the state’s white population and around 30 percent of the overall population (per 2010 Census data). If we were to judge from the posse surrounding Gov. Deal at the photo-op for signing of the bill, the conspicuous African American absence probably says a mouthful.

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