Repressive legislation and mass hysteria

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Violent criminal acts that result in the deaths and injuries of multiple victims, like the shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend, are without a doubt symptoms of serious social dysfunction in the American polity today, one sign among many of a malaise broadly affecting our country and our world today, the causes of which are not easily identified nor agreed upon, let alone addressed in a meaningful way by legislation or other political action or independent social action.

I certainly don’t pretend to have any earth-shattering insight into or answers to this problem. But I am certain that there are notions, ideas and actions that offer no hope of helping. Chief among these are the effort to fit acts like mass shootings and the deeper problems such acts imply into a preconceived narrative and agenda. I have learned to expect the rote response of those whose medieval-like notions invest inanimate objects with demonic powers, but I am extremely distressed this time to see the stock “common sense gun safety” proposals not only being put forward by the usual suspects but to see them also fused with vicious attacks on the president, shamefully assigning to him responsibility for the acts of the racist El Paso killer (not so much, I note, for those of the deranged left-wing Dayton killer) and to see them gain traction among benighted blatherskites in Congress and even with the president who is the target of this vicious, false narrative.

So-called “Red Flag laws” which are already on the books in 14 states are not only unconstitutional on their face, they are even worse than that. They are blatantly totalitarian and reminiscent of the Internal Security Acts detention without trial practiced by the South African regime against tens of thousands of anti-apartheid activists during the final three decades of apartheid.

The murderer in Dayton used a pistol he assembled on a stripped AR lower receiver, and now suddenly the hoplophobes who yesterday didn’t have the first clue about what a lower receiver is feel confident they are qualified to draft legislation imposing new, stricter regulations governing, not only lower receivers but the multiple parts (springs, pins, bolts and bolt carriers, barrels, gas blocks, triggers, etc.) with which one can assemble a pistol, carbine or rifle on a lower receiver.

Without any explanation or analysis, the phrase “Universal Background Checks” may seem reasonable and even sound like a good idea, which, I believe is why polls show broad support for the idea. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of a bill to implement “Universal” Background Checks, it becomes clear that such checks would not be “universal” because the Crips, MS-13, other gangs and criminals in general would not comply, and then one is able to understand that what “Universal Background Checks” really means is establishing a registry of lawful, law-abiding gun owners. What does such registration accomplish? It has no impact on the criminal misuse of firearms. But it does pave the way for confiscation — which a large share of those proposing “Universal Background Checks have as their ultimate aim.

Passing repressive legislation in an atmosphere of mass hysteria stoked by an irresponsible and tendentious mass media — legislation proposed by individuals who lack even basic knowledge about the devices they seek to regulate — is not the behavior one is entitled to expect from the leaders of a democratic, constitutional republic, and I for one will not hold blameless any elected official who is complicit in such shameful behavior.

— Lee Smith, Somers

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