Jan. 23 2013 08:42 AM

Mitch McConnell stokes irrational fear of the end of Democracy

Mitch McConnell (left) and Barack Obama
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We’re worried that there are people out there who think that one can’t rise to the position of U.S. Senate minority leader without being somewhat rational.

That’s clearly not the case, as we’ve seen before and as we learned again this week, when news emerged that Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky sent out a campaign email that warned recipients that the “gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom.” The email said that folks who want to do something about the increasing number of mass shootings in the United States aim to “shred” the Constitution. “You and I are surrounded,” it cried.

The hysterical message came on the heels of President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that he’s recommending that Congress pass legislation that, among other things, bans ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds, reinstates a ban on military-style assault weapons and requires background checks on all gun sales. He also signed 23 executive orders to help address the problem.

McConnell’s not an idiot. Surely, he knows that nothing that Obama ordered or proposed violates anything in the Constitution, including the Second Amendment, and if he’s listening closely, he knows that Obama isn’t recommending that Congress pass a law that requires people to hand over their assault weapons or high-capacity clips. His proposal is to ban the future production and sale of these products. We wish he and the Congress were coming for your guns.

McConnell and his ilk—the non-lunatic gun lovers—see popular support for modern-day Republican ideals slipping away and will cynically try anything to instill fear of the other side. Though, the folks who are susceptible to this tactic aren’t likely to rush to the Democrats because the GOP has veered to the extreme on all manner of social and economic issues.

To be sure, the hysteria is trickling down. For example, a state senator in Missouri introduced a bill that would make it a felony in that state to enforce any federal law that’s more restrictive on semiautomatic weapons than laws that were on the books on Dec. 31, 2012. County sheriffs in Missouri and else where are hinting that they won’t enforce new gun laws because they believe they’re unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has ruled that limiting the types of weapons Americans can buy and possess isn’t unconstitutional. Do these yahoos believe that everyone has a constitutional right to own rocketpropelled grenade launchers? Bazookas? Howitzers? As Adam Winkler wrote in The Daily Beast, Americans have the right to vote, but that right is limited; children aren’t allowed to vote, and in some states, neither are ex-felons.

Speaking of voting rights, these people claim to be so concerned about threats to Democracy and the Constitution, but where have they been as poor people, students, the elderly and people of color have had their voting rights systematically attacked in recent years? They’re not crazy about the Constitution; they’re just crazy about guns. Or maybe it’s that they’re crazy about Obama (not in a good way). After all, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also issued executive orders restricting gun rights, and as far as we know, Democracy is still alive.

Come to think of it, we’d support denying gun rights to people who demonstrate that they’re too crazy about guns or too crazy about Obama. Let’s come up with a test.

Seriously, though, the Second Amendment kooks have already had an effect. While Obama’s actions and proposals are relatively sweeping and dramatic, and they might stop or slow down a person who aims to kill a lot of people in a short time, they won’t have any impact on the run-of-the-mill gun violence that devastates families and communities every day. The death merchants in the gun industry and their lapdogs like McConnell have seen to it that only the most highpowered weapons can be topics of serious debate.

As the Newtown incident gets smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror—in case you’ve forgotten, a young man in Connecticut stole his mom’s legal guns and then murdered her and 26 others, including 20 first-graders—the sane majority must keep the pressure on Congress to act. Contact your Congress member, particularly if you live in a Republican’s district. 

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