You know it’s a shame when a satirist does a better job at analyzing the issues around the gun control debate in this country than our vaunted journalists have done. Jon Stewart once again schools us all in how to break down an argument and get to the core of what is really going on. Below is some transcription of the most salient parts IMHO of the video, but if you prefer to watch it yourself, here’s a link to part 1 and to part 2 of his monologue. Bold emphasis is mine and parts in brackets are my descriptions of video segments he runs during the monologue.
All of us, on any side of the debate, are anti-massacre. If some commonsense firearms regulations might cut the number of these killings, why not try?
Then he shows a video of former Gov. Jesse Ventura using drunk driving as an example, saying ‘do we go to the motor companies and say stop making these automobiles because people get drunk, drive and kill people?’ Jon responds:
No, but we do enact stricter blood alcohol limits, raise the drinking age, ramp up enforcement and penalties, charge bartenders who serve drunks, and launch huge public awareness campaigns to stigmatize the dangerous behavior in question and we do all these things because it might just help bring drunk driving rates down by, I don’t know, by two-thirds in a few decades.
Jon said the latter while displaying a chart showing the reduction in drunk driving from 1973 to 2007 by, surprise, two-thirds. Then in response to Wayne LaPierre’s videotaped statement that ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun’ Jon says:
So the school principal with a gun is going to stop a guy with an assault rifle and a bullet proof vest? You know I don’t think Principal Belding is as bad ass you think he might be. Here’s the problem, technology has democratized carnage. And it’s very weird to me that gun enthusiasts won’t even entertain…let me amend that, some gun enthusiasts won’t even entertain the idea of common sense law enforcement supported small bore, so to speak, moves to try and rein in this violence. What’s really going on here?
Next the plays a video of Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) saying we have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms and responds:
Yeah, yeah, for a “well-regulated militia”, not a personal arsenal free for all. There’s all sorts of stuff you can’t have already: tanks, F-16 fighter jets, surface to air anything! When that Constitution was written people had muskets. So, okay, you can have all the muskets you want. You can even have assault muskets for all I care. Jazz it up with a bayonet. Go fucking nuts!
But why is it that there is no other issue in this country with as dire public safety consequences as this that we are unable to make even the most basic steps towards putting together a complex plan of action to slow this epidemic spread? What is really going on here?
Jon then shows a video of a variety people talking about how they fear the government will take away their guns. He says:
Now we’re getting somewhere. So this isn’t really about the Constitution or efficacy of regulation or about intruder defense. It’s about how perilously close some people in this country feel they’re living to a tyrant’s rule.
The video continues with the same commenter and then of rightwing radio host Alex Jones citing examples in history of guns being taken away. Jones BTW was out and out crazy in this video, you can see it here. Jon reacts:
Holy Shit! No one is taking away ALL the guns. But now I get it. Now I see what’s happening. So this is what it is. They’re paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present. We can’t even begin to address 30,000 gun deaths that are actually, in reality happening in this country every year because a few of us must remain vigilant against the rise of the imaginary Hitler.
As I’ve said many, many times on this very blog. The fringe paranoid element of gun owners is holding the rest of the country hostage and preventing us from even beginning the conversation about how to properly and effectively regulate guns in this country and people die every day as a result. While it is infuriating that this fringe element thinks the imaginary potential for tyranny trumps the very real lives of gun violence victims, it’s pure madness that we as a country, all 99% of us in the middle, allow it to happen.
Note: Principal Belding, in case you don’t know, is a pop culture reference to an American TV character from the show “Saved by the Bell” on the air in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.