Want to know what the pro-gun crowd thinks about gun violence? Or I should say, what the pro-gun crowd wants everyone else to think about gun violence? All you gotta do is wait for a mass shooting to occur, then check the Twitter accounts of the so-called GOP presidential candidates. I say 'so-called' because the idea that any of this bunch has demonstrated even a sliver of leadership, never mind the slightest attention to facts, makes me wonder how we could remotely imagine one of these clowns sitting in the Oval Office after January 20, 2017. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
I knew we were in for a know-nothing treatment of gun violence when, in putting together a game plan for 2016, the GOP decided that the 2nd Amendment would be the 'values' niche issue this time around. They used to have abortion and then gay marriage to gin up the base, but when Donald Trump started boasting about defending himself by carrying a gun, I knew the NRA's wildest dream about defining the social agenda for America was finally coming true.
Then we had the shooting of two television journalists in Virginia, and while killing only two people is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as dispatching ten victims in Oregon, nine in Charleston, never mind 14 in San Bernardino, what was impressive in a bizarre way about the Virginia shooting was that the entire thing was caught on tape. And the very next day, there was Trump telling us that the problem had nothing to do with guns, it was caused by the lack of mental hospital space which was needed to lock all the crazies away.
Once Trump defined the issue in accordance with the standard NRA lexicon that it's not guns that kill people, etc., everyone else fell into line. The next opportunity for the GOP pretenders came a month later in Oregon when the killing of ten faculty and students at Umpqua Community College unleashed a torrent of pro-gun commentary from the GOP presidential field. Once again Trump knew the nuts were "coming out of the woodwork;" Ben Carson called for better detection of "early warning signs," and in case there was any doubt about why the shooting occurred, we had self-appointed gun fantasists like John Lott telling us that we couldn't expect anything else to happen in a gun-free zone.
This time around, however, the Republicans might have overshot their mark. Because when Hillary spoke out about the Umpqua massacre, she made a point of tying it to enacting "sensible gun-control measures," and promised to lead the effort after she took over the Oval Office in 2017. This was the first time that the Democrats made gun ownership a campaign issue, and it caught the GOP entirely off guard. Let's remember it was Hillary's husband who decided that Democrats lost the White House in 2000 due to the power of the NRA. So I knew that, going forward, the GOP would have to come up with a revised game plan to avoid having to appear condoning gun violence while still keeping the gun-nut vote on their side.
And to the credit of their campaign PR teams, it seems to me that the Republican presidential wannabes have indeed come up with an approach to gun violence which gets them all off the hook; namely, that gun violence is an act of God, so what can mere mortals do? Here's a selection of Twitter feeds from last night: Trump -- "Good luck to law enforcement and God bless." Cruz -- "Our prayers are with the victims." Bush -- "Praying for the victims." Paul -- "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims."
Any mention of guns? Here's Hillary: "We must take action to stop gun violence now." And what Hillary knows is what the pro-gun gang and its new crop of presidential pretenders don't want to imagine; that maybe most Americans are sick of the shootings, sick of guns, and fed up with the NRA.