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“It’s no secret that women are now engaging in hunting and the shooting sports in record numbers. My wife Susan and I are especially excited about the immediate success of the NRA Women’s Network,” commented NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

NRA Women’s Network Now Presented by Smith & Wesson
National Rifle Association Press Release
December 6, 2012

Nancy Lanza, 52, was “a big, big gun fan” who went target shooting with her children, according to friends. "She said she would often go target shooting with her kids," Dan Holmes, owner of the landscaping firm Holmes Fine Gardens, told Reuters.

[Adam] Lanza, 20, killed his mother at the home they shared, shooting her in the face with her own gun, before driving three miles to the school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Connecticut school massacre: Gunman's mother taught him to shoot
The Telegraph
December 15, 2012

It’s been a morbid exercise (literally) watching the gun nuts struggle to come up with a coherent, much less plausible, response to the Sandy Hook school massacre.

The direction they seem to be heading is a classic—and perhaps even a potentially useful—example of the radicalization process in full flower.

The initial reaction, of course, was the by-now-stock plea to not “politicize” the tragedy, at least not until the tiny bodies are cold. (I think at this point the NRA’s crit com department simply works down a prepared checklist when these things happen—and the “warm corpses” line is the first item on it.)

But that’s just a delaying tactic—and one that’s lost much of its effectiveness now that mass shootings have become part of the daily national routine. A more substantive retort to sanity is needed.

The argument Team Slaughter appears to be gravitating towards is the idea that the solution to gun violence is more guns: in the classrooms, the hospitals, the nursing homes, the shopping malls—even the mortuaries, I guess, because you never know.

The nutty perfesser, Glenn Reynolds, esteemed lecturer in Second Amendment fanaticism at the hillbilly Harvard, is taking lead counsel for the defense on this one. He argues—succinctly, if insanely—that:

People don’t stop killers. People with guns do.
The perfesser wants us to understand this is exactly the same pearl of wisdom he offered up after the 2007 Virginia Tech gun massacre. Thereby satisfying, also exactly, the standard test of lunacy: Doing the same thing over again, but expecting a different result.

I’m not here to discuss the pros and cons of arming kindergarten teachers with semi-automatic weapons. Not gonna go there. I think we as a nation already spend far too much time humoring the mad delusions of modern conservatives, which is a completely inadequate substitute for professional psychiatric therapy.

But it does occur to me that even the “respectable” gun nuts are slipping into the same spiral of extremism that has just about destroyed the anti-abortion movement (not to mention the political career of Todd Akin)—and for much the same reason.

The anti-abortionists have run afoul of the logic of their own beliefs. If an unborn fetus is a person—with all the legal rights of a person—there is no acceptable moral argument for sanctioning the extermination of that person simply because his or her father happened to be a rapist and/or or an intimate family member of the woman whose uterus they are currently inhabiting.

You really can’t argue with this—not once you accept the starting premise that an embryo is a person from the moment of conception.

The problem, of course, is that something close to 75% of the voters do not agree that the mothers of rape or incest embryos should be forced, under penalty of law, to carry those babies to term. Which means that politically, you can’t argue FOR it, unless losing consistently doesn't bother you.

Which leaves the anti-abortionists with an unsolvable dilemma: If they bow to the popular consensus that abortion is acceptable in cases of rape or incest, they undermine the entire moral basis of their movement. But if they reject that consensus, they risk marginalizing themselves—a la Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.

I think the gun nuts are in somewhat the same bind now: Their movement rests on an absolute, or near-absolute reading of the Second Amendment as an individual right to bear firearms. What that means—practically as well as theoretically—is that events like the Sandy Hook massacre can’t be stopped, or even slowed, by the tools presently available to law enforcement.

Even a greater focus on identifying and treating the mentally ill (currently the other fashionable alternative to gun control) is suspect, since it might enable some kind of state-sanctioned process that results in loss of gun rights. (Otherwise, does it make any difference if the mass killers of the future are certified, officially diagnosed lunatics?)

But the honest argument: mass slaughter is just the price—the butchers bill, so to speak—we must pay for having a Second Amendment  (“The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of teachers and kindergarteners”) isn’t exactly a viable political position, at least not in the swing states.

And so a logical deux ex machina: The solution to gun violence is to arm everybody! No need for tampering with the Second Amendment, or waiting around for tiny corpses to cool so that we can begin talking about whether we should be talking about eventually having a national conversation about guns.

All we need to do is make sure any would-be assassins die instantly in a hail of bullets from surrounding onlookers the moment they draw—without, of course, harming any innocent bystanders in the process. Piece of cake.

It remains to be seen whether this is a politically viable alternative to gun control. There was a time when I would have said it couldn’t possibly be, but then I was also one of those deluded goofballs who thought Columbine would lead to a fundamental swing in popular opinion.

Fool me once, etc.

But we can at least hope that the gun nuts are heading down the same road as the anti-abortion nuts: Finally alienating a generally, but not passionately, sympathetic public with their progressively more extreme positions.

Which actually returns me to the original gun nut response to Sandy Hook (Columbine, Virginia Tech, ad infinitum): Their indignant demand that the issue not be “politicized” by the left.

The reality is that standing around expressing outrage, hating on the NRA, and loudly demanding gun control isn’t really “political”—it’s therapy, of a sort, for the politically impotent.

Politicizing Sandy Hook would mean doing some hard and precise thinking about how the event could be used to split the gun nuts—who are already divided between the relative pragmatists (the word “moderate” definitely doesn’t apply here) of the national NRA and their GOP allies, who realize they’re on dangerous ground, and the really rabid ultras, who appear to want to link the gun movement even more closely to the let’s-overthrow-the-federal-government movement.

Divide and conquer might be putting it too strongly—at this point I’d settle for divide and weaken. But that’s the kind of “politicizing” we need—and the sooner the gun control lobbyists (and their fair weather friends in the Democratic Party) start developing a PR and legislative strategy to achieve that goal, the better.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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