Shooters, Background checks, and hypocrites

by guest blogger Mark Waid

First: like everyone with a soul, I condemn the shooting of the Congressmen in Alexandria. It is horrible, it is unacceptable, I wish those wounded the best. I am genuinely sympathetic towards them. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.

That said: Mo Brooks.

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cartoon by Dan Martin

The victims were, to a one, among the very same representatives who fight tooth and nail against even the slightest, most basic common-sense gun control measures or closing of loopholes, who serve the NRA more faithfully than they do their own constituents, and who throw up their hands (“What’re you gonna do, amirite?”) every time someone dares suggest that maybe, just maybe, an entire nation of reasonably intelligent people might be able to figure out some way to help stop the murders of Sandy Hook children besides, or even simply in addition to, insisting that every civilian be armed at all times. At least one of the Congressmen who was there, Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia, present on the field, eyewitness to the horror, has since told us that if they’d only been allowed to bring their own guns, they’d have been safer, because everyone knows that the first and most natural thing you do when you take to the diamond is strap on your gun holster. Just remember not to slide.

Yet as incomprehensible as I find these Congressmen’s priorities to be, let’s give them the enormous benefit of the doubt that they really, sincerely do believe that arming everyone regardless of whether or not they’ve had the slightest bit of firearms training truly is the best and only way to fight the problem and not just what the NRA pays them to say. Let’s go wide and assume they’re voting 100% with their conscience. All of them. Except for the one totally devoid of a conscience when it comes to you and your children.

Let’s turn our attention to Alabama representative Mo Brooks.

Of the men on that field, Mo Brooks is a uniquely vomitous waste of carbon. A representative who has repeatedly campaigned against any sort of stricter background checks at all — any — at all — in any form — had this to say about the shootings right after he doubled down on his absolute, unwavering conviction that our founding fathers were talking about SKS 7.62 assault rifles when they drafted the Second Amendment:

“With respect to this particular shooter, I’d really like to know more about him — whether he was an ex-felon, by way of example, who should not have had possession of a firearm — I’d like to know other things about his background before I pass judgment.”

You know what, Mo? WE ALL WOULD. Gee, IF ONLY THERE’D BEEN SOME SORT OF PROCESS IN PLACE THAT WOULD HAVE PROVIDED THAT SORT OF INFORMATION BEFORE SOMEONE GOT SHOT. THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN HELPFUL.

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there’s some way I’ve overlooked that Mo Brooks didn’t suddenly get around to changing his mind about the usefulness of background checks until someone pointed a gun at him. But it wouldn’t seem so.

Absolutely nothing I’m saying here is a call for Second Amendment repeal. Not my point. And background checks would not have stopped the shooting. Hodgkinson apparently purchased his assault rifle legally. We know this. Likewise not relevant to what I’m saying unless you want to deliberately and willfully miss my point.

My point is about naked, “I deserve better than you because I’m a Congressman” hypocrisy.

My point is that Mo Brooks, who steadfastly opposes more informative background checks at every turn, just told us that he wants a more informative background check on the shooter. Not on any of the shooters involved in any of the 152 other 2017 mass shootings thus far, mind you. Just this guy. The one who was an immediate threat to Mo Brooks, not the others who threaten you or me. Because for Mo Brooks, when it comes to the ones who shoot at us and our kids because he won’t tighten background checks or do anything to make obtaining guns the slightest bit more difficult for those who we know after the fact should not have had them because of various mental health problems or histories of violence … well, y’know, who could have known?

Mark Waid is an Eisner Award-winning American comic book writer, known for his work on titles for DC Comics such as The Flash, Kingdom Come and Superman: Birthright, and for his work on Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil for Marvel Comics

Yes, it is your fault

gun nuts“The people who do these mass shootings are crazy!” the NRA says.  “It’s not the fault of the guns!  It’s not our fault!”  

Yes, if only there were some way to try to prevent crazy people from having access to guns.  Some sort of, I dunno, background check system.  Oh, really?  That has been proposed?  Well, gee, who would be against something as sensible as that?

The NRA?  They’re the ones who are against that?

Clearly I am missing something.  Tell me again how this isn’t at least partially their fault?

Shocker: No background checks = More gun deaths

In a finding that surprised absolutely no one with any common sense, Missouri’s homicide rate rose 23% since they got rid of background checks in order to purchase a gun.

This does not correlate with a similar rise nation-wide or with neighboring states.

It did, however, affect the neighboring states, as criminals went to Missouri to bring back guns and cause more crimes in the surrounding states.  TracethegunsMO (The little map to the side shows how many guns were used in crimes in other states that could be traced back to Missouri.)

You know, I could go into a big editorial here, but what’s the point?  You and I know that background checks are good;  this study from Johns Hopkins confirms it;  other studies have found the same thing;  and 92% of Americans and 85% of NRA members think it’s a good idea.

But the gun lobby (which owns the NRA) gets their way, and the paranoid gun fetishists among us scream loud enough to drown out the voices of reason.

So more criminals with guns = freedom.   Hey, just like in Syria!

Some checks are more important than others

90% of Americans support background checks. The NRA writes contribution checks. Guess who wins?

Yep. The watered-down background checks law couldn’t even get through Congress when just about everyone supported it. What does that tell you?

The small percentage of those against background checks are either (a) NRA lobbyists who want to sell as many guns as possible for the gun manufacturers who pay them or (b) gun nuts who are convinced that everybody having a gun is the only thing standing between us and totalitarianism. And yet, that’s who Congress listened to.

So it still remains easier in most of the United States to buy a gun than it is to get a driver’s license and drive a car.56256280484ea.image

Most of the GOP angrily hate any kind of background check or restrictive registrations because they violate basic Constitutional rights. I know this, because I heard them say it while they were passing laws requiring background checks and restrictive registrations in order to vote.

And even so, this law would have done practically nothing. It was weakened to the point of being meaningless, with exceptions for selling guns to family, neighbors, or friends.

“Hi, welcome to Billy-Bob’s Gun Emporium.”

“I’d like to buy twelve military-style assault rifles and some armor-piercing bullets. But, uh, I don’t want to do a background check.”

“Where do you live?”

“On the other side of town.”

“We’re neighbors! Do you have any money?”

“Yes, right here.”

“Ah, then you’re also a friend! No problem. Here we go…”

To think that we couldn’t even get this first step passed, with support unlike just about anything else in the entire country (try to get 90% of the public to agree on anything), just lets you know who really runs things here.

And it ain’t us.