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Many people – including many in my own family – have been occupied of late with pushing for an assault weapons ban, as I have previously written about. Not the least of these is Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has proposed such a ban in the wake of the horrific Newtown shooting. Her proposal is actually a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which expired after ten years and has yet to be renewed despite attempts by Democrats to do so. Feinstein took up the initiative in the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado last summer, and again after Newtown in December.

The ban and Feinstein have been in the news more recently due to a divisive letter written very publicly to her and posted on the CNN iReport site, by U.S. Marine Corporal Joshua Boston. The letter has rallied some support from the right – mostly in the blogosphere – due to Boston’s adamantly stated refusal to submit to any kind of weapons ban. In an interview about the letter, Boston told Breitbart that the only restrictions he would support is (emphasis his) “one in which only VIOLENT felons are prevented from purchasing or possessing a firearm.”

Titled “No, ma’am,” here is the letter in its entirety:

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.

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I have to say, this is getting harder and harder to refute.

This is probably the most informative article I’ve yet read on the Newtown shooting. It is brought to us by none other than the Wall Street Journal. I encourage everyone to read it, then read it again, and then forward it to people you know.

As anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I’m generally a left-leaning moderate (or at least that’s what I aspire to). I began, one week ago, on the left-leaning side of this issue. Though I’ve never been in favor of much harsher gun laws, the idea of more guns in that school seemed, at first blush, preposterous. But I’m having a hard time even holding the line on that. Though some of their rhetoric can be pretty batty (see Wayne Lapierre’s long-winded statement today at the world’s most bizarre press conference), and arming the teachers still sounds ridiculous, I’m having a harder and harder time getting past the logic of the argument for armed guards in schools (see Lapierre’s statement), and against supposed “gun-free zones” at which nothing is done to ensure guns are not present. One widely made suggestion coming from the pro-control side is to instate a ban on assault weapons, but the designation of “assault weapon” has to do with cosmetic differences between weapons and has no functional meaning. I’ve also always thought that stricter gun control to combat these shootings is kind of missing the point. A gun in and of itself is not good or evil (yes, the “guns don’t kill people” argument). The root issue here is violent tendencies, which stems from mental health. This article addresses all these things, and adds some enlightening statistics.

I’m posting the article here in its entirety, adding only bolding of some particularly salient statements. The article is titled “Guns, Mental Illness, and Newtown” and is written by David Kopel for WSJ Online. Once again, I encourage everyone to read it.

Has the rate of random mass shootings in the United States increased? Over the past 30 years, the answer is definitely yes. It is also true that the total U.S. homicide rate has fallen by over half since 1980, and the gun homicide rate has fallen along with it. Today, Americans are safer from violent crime, including gun homicide, than they have been at any time since the mid-1960s.

Mass shootings, defined as four or more fatalities, fluctuate from year to year, but over the past 30 years there has been no long-term increase or decrease. But “random” mass shootings, such as the horrific crimes last Friday in Newtown, Conn., have increased.

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Some people are giving Obama too much credit. And they’re not his supporters, or really anyone in the Democratic Party. To find anyone with heartfelt belief in Obama’s second term, who truly believe he will make monumental progress on any of his issues, you have to go to the far right. Yes, the right. It is only they who seem to most strongly believe that Obama will start doing great things now. I’m paraphrasing Thomas Frank, in an article for Harper’s:

To find someone who sincerely believes that Barack Obama is going to preside over his second term as a strong, determined progressive, you must make your way far to the right. There, the panicked consensus holds that he will remake the nation as dramatically as did Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. There, and only there, will you be told that Obama is preparing to tackle the unemployment problem by establishing a new Works Progress Administration of the kind I called for in this magazine’s pages back in December 2011. Of course, for the true believers who make this assertion […] the idea of a resurgent WPA is the ultimate slacker-coddling nightmare.

Granted, the far right’s assertion of Obama’s greatness is couched in hysteria and apprehension, as with the oncoming of a certain doom, but in so believing it they nonetheless hold the most productive vision of a second Obama term.

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With the grief and terror still very fresh, and the realization that we’ve once again been reminded how fragile life is – particularly young life – and how dark the deep recesses of some minds and some hearts in this country still remain settling over the land like a dense fog, and with the perpetrator sufficiently dead, it is understandably common for people to cast about for someone to blame. At a time like this, it is unwise to paint a target on yourself by throwing up comments like this:

Shooters attack an elementary school in CT – another “gun-free zone.” Makes children sitting ducks.

A tweet from Bryan Fischer, “the extreme right-wing “Christian” radio jock who hates, you know, everyone.” Charlie Pierce agrees, naming Fischer “bloodthirsty schmuck of the year,” and adding, “I dearly wish I believed more strongly in a hell.”

Unwise, you raging lunatic asshole. Very unwise. You seem like the type who might like to lead a lynch mob, but if you see one forming up, I wouldn’t be so quick to run towards them…

(Just discovered that his ill-advised tweet wasn’t nearly enough for Lord Hatemonger. He went much farther. Click at your own risk.)

UPDATE:

Mike Huckabee has jumped on the opportunist-asshole bandwagon with an assertion that, to my mind, is just as bad as Fischer’s, arguably worse. Nothing like a school shooting to get everybody pushing their pet issues. If I were a much lesser person – an un-thinking, simpleminded jackass – I would engage with Huckabee in order to make the opposite assertion. But I can’t help but think I’m superior to this line of thinking, as is anyone else who rejects it.

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