The U.S. Senate, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association, made a stand for violence, poverty and sickness in America the other day. That’s right, in the wake of another gun-violence bloodbath, Republicans searched their souls, hearts, and collective conscience…and, realizing, they had none of those things, voted to make all Americans (except the very wealthy) more susceptible to death and financial ruin.
The timing of the Senate vote is, well, cruel to say the least. At a moment when the blood of San Bernardino victims is not yet dry, Republicans refused to restrict gun access for those on the national terror watch list. Think about this for a moment. Right-wing politicians are okay with arming known radical Muslims, even though these same politicians regularly complain that Obama is doing nothing to stop known radical Muslims. Does it not occur to right-wingers that disarming terrorists might be a good first step to stopping home-grown terrorist attacks? As Hillary Clinton so eloquently stated, “If suspected terrorists are too dangerous to allow on planes, they should not be able to own guns.”
But when did Republicans ever let logic, sensibility, and compassion creep into their world view? Their brand is stupidity. Their priority is ignorance. Their values are warped. They are more concerned with pleasing their NRA overlords than they are with keeping guns out of the hands of ISIL.
San Bernardino will bring new howls about mental illness being the source of violence, but this claim has no basis. According to Joshua Holland, a writer for The Nation magazine, “We don’t yet know what set off this latest bloodbath, but we know a lot about gun violence in America. We know that our mental-health care system is indeed broken. But the gun lobby’s ubiquitous claims that fixing it will address the scourge of gun violence are merely a distraction from the real issue. Epidemiological studies show that the vast majority of the mentally ill aren’t violent. They tend to kill themselves at a disproportionate rate. Duke University psychiatrist Jeffrey Swanson told Health Day that people suffering from those kinds of mental-health problems are responsible for only 4 percent of the gun violence in America. Ultimately, talking about mental illness obscures the real problem: We’re awash in firearms and refuse to take the steps needed to keep them out of the wrong hands. Perhaps the most frightening thing we know about gun violence comes from a study conducted by researchers at Duke, Harvard, and Columbia that was published earlier this year in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law. It found that almost one in 10 Americans who have access to guns are also prone to impulsive outbursts of rage. Among this group are almost 4 million people who carry their guns around in public and say they ‘have tantrums or angry outbursts,’ ‘get so angry [that they] break or smash things’ and lose their temper and ‘get into physical fights.’ The researchers also found that those who own many firearms are significantly more likely to exhibit signs of uncontrollable anger than people who own just one. The authors of the study noted that very few among that group had been diagnosed with the kinds of mental illness that would be unearthed in a standard background check. They say that we need to start restricting gun ownership based on whether people have a history of violence, not on diagnosed mental illness.”
God save us from angry, impulsive, gun-toting Americans…because the Republicans never will.