It could have been almost any Republican who said it. I mean, they’ve probably all said it at some point. But this time it was Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie.
“Every single one of these bills is unserious and unconstitutional and suffers from the inherent problem that all gun control bills suffer from, that is that criminals do not obey the law.”
There are a lot of really stupid arguments made by a lot of stupid (or disingenuous) people against common sense firearm safety legislation. But the stupidest argument of all–and this is just my opinion–is the criminals don’t obey the law argument.
Sure, it’s true. But it’s also stupid. Deeply, profoundly stupid. Stupid at the cellular level. It’s stupid in so many ways you’d need an abacus to count them. It’s stupid because it suggests criminality is a binary condition. People are either Criminal or Not Criminal. Criminals don’t obey the law? It’s like saying sober people don’t get drunk. It’s like saying people who are standing don’t sit down.
Dude, you’re standing until you sit, you’re sober until you get drunk, and you’re not a criminal until you break the law. You’re not a mass murderer until you kill lots of people.
We all know–and this includes that fuckwit Massie–most of the recent mass murderers legally obtained the guns they used to murder lots of people. That’s because it’s pretty fucking easy to legally obtain a gun. Especially a long gun, like a rifle. Yes, if you buy a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer, you have to submit to a background check, but it’s a fairly cursory check. And in most states you can dodge that background check if you buy the gun from an individual–a friend, a relative, a neighbor, some guy you met at a bar–so long as you live in the same state (well, so long as the seller has reasonable cause to believe the person buying the gun is from the same state). Hell, somebody can just give you a gun as a gift. All perfectly legal.
So you can easily acquire a gun and be Not Criminal.
In 44 states, it’s also perfectly legal to openly carry a long gun–a rifle or shotgun. Seriously, in most of the US you can just walk around town openly with an AR-15 strapped to your shoulder and still be Not Criminal. In three of those 44 states, it’s illegal to openly carry a long gun IF it’s loaded. But, of course, you can’t tell if a rifle is loaded just by looking at it. And police officers would need probable cause in order to stop a person carrying a long gun to check to see whether or not it was loaded. Only a few of those 44 states that allow you to wander around toting a rifle have restrictions on large capacity magazines (generally considered to be a magazine holding more than ten rounds).
And hey, guess what? In most jurisdictions, you can walk around wearing body armor IF you’re not pretending to be a member of law enforcement. So in most of the US you can buy yourself an AR-15 variant, load it with a large capacity magazine, dress yourself in generic military gear, and wander over to the local supermarket and you’d still officially be Not Criminal unless and until you started shooting people.
And that’s a problem, isn’t it. You can’t tell the Criminals from the Not Criminals until the bastards start shooting, until you have to start running and ducking and screaming. You have absolutely no way of knowing if the guy carrying his AR-15 into the coffee shop is a mass murderer or just another Second Amendment Asshole.
Republicans are okay with this.
Here’s another very basic fact that Representative Massie and his fellow GOP fuckwits fail to understand: law exists to regulate human conduct. We know we can’t ever completely stop people from doing stuff we don’t like, but we institute laws to discourage certain unwanted antisocial behaviors. We don’t expect trespassing laws to completely stop trespassing, but they discourage it. We know stalking laws won’t prevent stalking, but they give stalking victims some small measure of protection. We know sensible firearm safety laws won’t put an end to mass murder, but they can reduce the butcher’s bill. They can moderate the body count.
But c’mon. We know that’s not important to people like Massie. These people will claim they see firearms as nothing more than tools, but the truth is they treat guns as tangible evidence–as undeniable proof–that they’re strong and independent and courageous and free. But that’s bullshit. The only people who need or want to carry guns in public are people who are afraid of the world around them or bullies who want to intimidate others.
People like Massie are just afraid. They feel their world–the world in which they’re powerful and dominant–is slipping away from them. They fear a future in which they’re not powerful and dominant. They seem to think guns and the Second Amendment will somehow magically protect them, will allow them to hold on to their current position in society, will grant them the measure of respect they think they deserve.
And they’re willing to sacrifice shoppers, office workers, random civilians, and school kids to keep their own place in the world.
You cant tell a mass murderer from a 2nd Amendment Asshole until the shooting starts, but you can tell an accessory to mass murder by the way they vote.