I know. We live in a world of soundbites. Particularly in the political realm. From “Lock her up” to “Zero-tolerance policy” towards undocumented immigrants, sadly the first round of Democratic debates in 2019 did nothing to improve this situation.
To be fair, the format was awful. Over the course of 2 nights we saw the moderators try to cram in as many subjects as possible, frequently limiting the responses to “a couple of words” or 30 seconds, not only allowing for it to turn into a debate of soundbites, but forcing it to be. The debate should have been the top 3 or 4 subjects that consistently poll among all Americans as being the most important, with the 2 hours of each night being solely that. Which we didn’t get. So superficial zingers or attempted zingers is what we got instead.
I won’t delve into all of the policy questions that were asked, as this is the Liberal Gun Club afterall, but instead I’ll hit on what was asked of both sets of candidates-
CHUCK TODD (DEBATE MODERATOR): You didn’t address — do you think the federal government needs to go and figure out a way to get the guns that are already out there?
Seriously? So now the entire field is asked to cede all reasonableness when it comes to questions of how they’d approach the issue, and instead shooting straight (pun intended) for confiscation. Sadly, all but a couple pretty enthusiastically seemed to be on board with it. That’s how you lose elections. It’s exactly how the fear argument is made for those of us that are gun owners, whether we’re liberal, moderate, or conservative. It’s also exactly how you lose in the midwest and south. If you thought Texas was turning purple, this kind of crap all but ensures that it’s going to remain red.
And frankly, it’s bad policy. We’ve got studies that show what needs to be done. And solely focusing on mass shooting events rather than the day to day violence that kills an order of magnitude more. For some perspective, in 2018, 93 people died in mass shootings. In the same year, there were 14,000+ homicides and 24,000 suicides. Not to discount the enormous impact that mass shootings have on the communities where they happen, but the overwhelming media coverage of these events make it seem like mass shootings are THE issue. And frankly, from a numbers perspective, they aren’t.
And to look at this from a reality perspective, what’s actually being discussed, if we’re enforcing confiscation, is sending federal agents from door to door on a hunt for newly illegal firearms. If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it really should. Given the already major issues around no-knock raids, mistaken identities, and police shootings without involving gun confiscation, it should really give you pause to think about the real life implementation of this kind of effort. Despite the media’s portrayal, there isn’t blood on the streets today. There will be with a program like this.
The other proposals have been touted for years- universal background checks, waiting periods, assault weapons bans,(not confiscations) etc. While these proposals seem to have broad support among the base, the actual impact of these laws on reducing homicides or suicides is negligible at best.
As we see from this study from UC Davis:
Study does not find population-level changes in firearm homicide or suicide rates in California 10 years after comprehensive background check and violent misdemeanor policies enacted
So rather than going after the low hanging fruit that the base wants that won’t do anything at best, or will cause serious bloodshed at worst, why not look at things that will actually work. We’ve written extensively about these things in various articles, and we’ve outlined real solutions that have a proven track record here.
Like the last 40 years of Reganomics has brought about the collapse of the middle class (root cause), and large corporations polluting and failing to mitigate climate change by addressing it (root cause), if we don’t go after the source of the problem (which isn’t guns), then we’re just doing more political theatre.
And it will cost us the election. We’d be happy to speak with the candidates to talk about real solutions.