Of Guns, Cliffs, and Compromise

I admit it. I am a legal gun owner. Please don’t demonize me because I own guns. I’m also a Progressive who strongly believes in gun control. Please don’t demonize me because I think some guns should be banned and folks should register firearms and show they understand how to use them before they get them. It’s not an oxymoron.

So, with a foot in both ‘camps’ I can justifiably say that the news of yet another mass shooting, this time in an elementary school in Connecticut,  has made me really angry. Not only at the perpetrator, but at the predictable blather to come. The gun lobby will push their line that people kill people, ignoring that easy access to guns without any background checks significantly contribute to these types of shootings. Ignoring the obvious fact that the Second Amendment was written in a time of flintlocks and no standing army (“In order to have a well regulated militia…”), the NRA spends millions to prevent any regulation on obtaining any firearm, resulting in the truth that 40% of all guns sold are sold without any checks on the buyers. No gun is too powerful for the gun lobby, no matter that an AK 47 has no other use but mass killing.

On the other side will come the plea to ban all guns, something that will never fly in Peoria or anywhere else in this Country, because people do have a legitimate right to defend themselves and to participate in recreational shooting and hunting. I am a Civil War re-enactor. Should my one shot muzzle loading rifle-musket be prohibited? What sense does that make?

So the blather will come and no one will step up to the plate and make common sense compromise. It is really sad, but unfortunately true. But the NRA and gun lobby needs to understand this madness has to end. Ban the guns that are simply designed to kill lots of people, define assault weapons in a way that makes sense, and end the loopholes that allow purchase without background checks. Please stop with the quite frankly silly idea that owning a gun will protect you from ‘the evil government’. Believe me, if the government wanted to get you, they’ll use a drone and take you out from 1000 feet. At the same time, the anti-gun folks need to design laws that make sense and allow legitimate people, such as myself, to own a firearm. Yes, there is no way to make sure that no shootings are going to happen, nor that gangs will get firearms, but, background checks and closing the loopholes that allow anyone at a gun show to buy whatever they want, will go a long way to preventing them.

Yes, I’m talking about COMPROMISE, something that seems to be dead these days in our legislatures. Which brings me to the so called fiscal cliff. Anyone who understands the basics of economics knows that both the Federal government and Illinois State government need to put together a long term budget that is going to include both revenue enhancement (read income) and cuts. The recent election made it very clear that, first, Americans feel that the top 2% should be paying more in taxes and, second, that they don’t want to see their entitlement programs to be dismantled. Polls show that Ryan’s budget plan was not palatable to Americans. Yet here we have the GOP insisting they won’t tax the very rich and that entitlements must be cut. The same party that spent a billion and a half dollars to lose seats in both houses of Congress, never mind the Presidency. The same party, by the way, which created the fiscal cliff by refusing to make ANY compromise with President Obama two years ago. So, now, the folks that drove us to the ‘cliff’ and lost the election have the Chutzpah to push us over.

Yet, will they actually push us over? I think not because, as Animal said in ‘Stalag 17’, “just because the Krauts are dumb, doesn’t mean they’re stupid.” John Boehner, while trying to push for every advantage he can, knows that the public will point the finger squarely at him and his party if the cliff provisions come into effect January 1st. As well it should. The question is what the President will do. Hopefully, he won’t give too much away and will stand his ground. He has the cards and should play them. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Meantime, the point of this is to urge you to urge our representatives to think carefully and work with the other side. I am sure that Congressman-elect Brad Schneider will do so, but it will take a great amount of work to come up with lasting solutions. Let’s not back down nor fail to continue to point out the flaws in GOP thinking. The key? You can’t work out of debt by cutting your way out of it. Nor do most Americans share the Koch brothers desire to return to pre-FDR America. Make sure everyone you talk to understands that.


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