I love the smell of feel-good, do-nothing legislative pandering. It smells like … fucking stupidity.
In the wake of the massacre in Tucson this past weekend, a republican Congressmoron from New York has proposed new legislation which would make it illegal to carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of any federal government official or judge. I’ll give you all a moment to let that sink in.
All done? Excellent. I wager that a large minority of the people reading this might be nodding their heads in agreement with this idea. A somewhat larger minority are probably scratching their heads and saying, “That probably isn’t Constitutional.” The few remaining readers are probably staring at their monitor screens in shock.
Let me clue those larger groups in on a couple of basic facts regarding this proposed legislation: In the first place, it won’t work. Short of disarming the entire population by force (also impossible under our government as Constituted), there is no way of preventing armed citizens from entering this zone of exclusion. Is the Federal government going to physically search every citizen who gets within 1,000 feet of every government official? What about people who live within 1,000 feet of a official’s home? Do these people suddenly lose their right to keep and bear arms because Joe or Jane Congresscritter down the street just got elected? What about other government officials? Will judges be forbidden from having armed security? Will the President be forced to go without Secret Service protection? If the law does not apply to everyone equally, it probably won’t pass Constitutional challenge in the courts.
Second, assuming a miracle occurred to make this legislation work as intended, it would not have prevented Saturday’s tragedy. You see, anyone who has decided to kill a government official (or anyone else, for that matter) is probably not too worried about the fact that he or she would be breaking the law by doing so. It’s already illegal to commit murder, and the would-be murderer isn’t bothered by breaking that law. Why would one more law stop him/her? Furthermore, having read the “alleged” shooter’s diatribes, I can safely say that he was and is a genuine whackjob (I am not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but nobody with a properly functioning cerebellum could possibly think the shooter was sane). He’s goofier than bug shit, and no laws were going to slow him down or even mildly inconvenience him from committing mass murder. According to the reports I read, the shooter was carrying ninety rounds of ammunition for his pistol. He obviously planned on killing as many people as possible before he went down. Does anyone really think that some words on a piece of paper would have stopped him?
Third, this horseshit legislation is un-Constitutional on its face. Unless Rep. Pete King (the panties-wetting toady behind this legislation) is planning on overturning the Second Amendment and a whole host of Supreme Court rulings based upon it, anyone even mildly perturbed by this proposed law could successfully challenge it in court with almost no legal training whatsoever. The end result of this legislation- whether or not it gets passed- is a great deal of wasted time, energy, and money. This country is just a little short on all three these days, so I am deeply pissed off by Rep. King’s stupid antics- even more than the antics of Congress usually piss me off.
Even more despicable than King’s blatant stupidity is the shameless jockeying by both major parties to take political advantage of the brutal murder of six innocents. This happens when any major news event grabs the nation’s attention, and it’s sickening every time. In lieu of dealing with the actual problems (in this case, the dearth of effective mental health care- and the funding thereof- for people like the shooter), government officials are quick to slap a few Band-Aids™ over the symptoms of the problem in order to crow about how they “took decisive action” to deal with the crisis-du-jour by passing feel-good legislation which accomplishes nothing. They get the appearance of action to lull the public into a false sense of security without having to face up to the really tough decisions.
Hey, Congress! If you really want to do something to prevent another tragedy like Tucson, why not look into the abysmal condition of mental-health services in this country? The last few tragedies like Tucson had plenty of warnings leading up to them, but our mental-health systems couldn’t act on the problems because of: A- lack of reporting, B- lack of statutory authority, C- lack of funding, or D- all of the above. Despite the Tucson shooter’s known or suspected mental issues, he did not get the medical attention he obviously needed. Because he was never identified as having mental problems, there was no legal way of preventing him from buying a gun. Fix that problem without further destroying the public’s civil rights, and you’ll have real accomplishments to replace the empty rhetoric, posturing, and blatant pandering to the lowest common denominator which is what passes for government action these days.
In the meantime, and I mean this with all due respect, Representative Peter King is cordially invited to devour an entire bowl of dicks. The same goes for the rest of the two-legged vermin in Congress who are trying to make political hay on the corpses of six innocents.
Current status: Livid
Current music: I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab For Cutie