Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV
The truth-twisters of the right wing are already pushing back against the “anti-gun hysteria” that has followed the school massacre of 20 children and six educators last week in Connecticut.
The Gun Guys are clever and subtly deceitful. The only “hysteria” evident is from the grief of the parents and others who loved the victims who were slaughtered.
Pessimists already worry that the cabal of cynics from the National Rifle Association, the Republican Party, Fox News and right-wing radio will defeat them with a bogus “Second Amendment” argument that benefits only gun dealers and murderers.
But it might not work this time. Maybe we are at a tipping point. Perhaps real action will follow President Obama’s sincere words among the sobbing at Sunday’s memorial service in Newtown.
One of the good things about our democracy is our capacity for change. Remember when tobacco smokers felt free to light up almost anywhere and poison your air, too? It wasn’t that long ago. They don’t dare do so now.
Remember when automobiles were built like death traps with exploding gas tanks and no “crumple zones,” back when seat belts were only for the timid? It wasn’t that long ago. Now, only an idiot rides without buckling up.
The gun crisis, with its increase in serial massacres, could be solved in much the same way. Instead of urging “gun control,” frame the issue as one of “gun safety.”
Stress that hunters can retain their rifles. Demand that all guns be registered (like cars) and that unregistered guns can be confiscated and that those caught carrying them can be prosecuted like users of hard drugs.
If the right wing can demand that all voters be registered with photo identification, advocates of gun safety can request that all gun owners be photographed and registered and carry a license, much as they do for driving.
Insist on identification markings on all bullets sold for easy tracing by cops. Ban the sale of automatic and semi-automatic weapons and large clips of bullets.
If citizens insist on single-shot muskets to form militias, as was the case when the Second Amendment was written, well, then yes, by all means, let them retain that constitutional right.
Keep the faith. Americans are starting to tune out destructive and unelected propagandists like Grover Norquist on tax issues. Soon, they will stop listening to Wayne LaPierre of the N.R.A.
This is a moment of cultural change. Make the debate no longer about “freedom and liberty.” Change the terms to “safety and health.” Define narrative and defeat the monsters.
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