Sick, Sad World

It’s been said that if the 20 children who died at Sandy Hook didn’t move Republicans in Congress to pass a single gun control law, nothing could. The National Rifle Association and their gun-hugging constituents just won’t budge on the issue.

But that’s not quite true.

After a lone gunman killed 59 county music fans and wounded another 500 in Las Vegas, the NRA notably maintained radio silence on the latest float in a grotesque parade of American gun massacres. Until, to the surprise of all (perhaps none more than the organization itself),

The National Rifle Association on Thursday endorsed tighter restrictions on devices that allow a rifle to fire bullets as fast as a machine gun — a rare, if small, step for a group that for years has vehemently opposed any new gun controls.

Twelve of the rifles the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, had in a high-rise hotel suite when he opened fire on a crowd on Sunday were outfitted with “bump stocks,” devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which may explain how he was able to shoot so quickly, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has ruled that bump stocks do not violate laws that tightly limit ownership of machine guns, and some lawmakers have called for them to be banned.

The bureau should revisit the issue and “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law,” the N.R.A. said in a statement released Thursday. “The N.R.A. believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

So what’s the difference between Sandy Hook and Las Vegas? What makes dead kids an acceptable loss to Wayne LaPierre, but gunning down the country folk so shocking that at least the gesture of making marginal change has to be performed?

Children don’t buy guns.

The Marksman And The Lawmaker

It’s unfortunate Republicans politicians were the victims of gun violence this morning. Five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, were hospitalized. The gunman, reported to be anti-Trump, died in custody.

The attack itself was horrible, and I feel for the friends and family of those caught up in this tragedy. Yet I can’t let the moment pass without pointing out that the politicians and caught in the crossfire are of the party that has zealously obstructed any and all attempts at gun control. Mass slaughter after mass slaughter was met with a shrug and “maybe it would have been different in teachers/office workers/whoever were armed.” Obscene yearly gun death statistics didn’t change their minds. Not even the murder of 20 children and 6 adults at the Sandy Hook massacre swayed them.

I doubt today’s events will deviate from the script, but were this to be the incident that led GOP lawmakers to disentangle themselves from the NRA, it would be the rankest sort of hypocrisy. It would also be welcome.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Forty-Six)

The Counterresistance

Concerning the just-concluded Conservative Political Action Conference, a plurality of reportage went to CPAC’s dis-invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos (and his subsequent career meltdown), the expulsion of Richard Spencer from the Gaylord, Bannon/Preibus’ awkward touch moment and the miraculous physical manifestation of Dear Leader among the worshipful masses.

Which is fine. Most — other than the implicitly homophobic reactions some commentators applied to Steve and Reince’s clear gut-level discomfort with each other — are worth discussion. Yiannopoulos’ situation in particular evinces the power antifascist organizing can have in blowing up the platforms of odious human beings.

But it seems few gave much heed to another development – the National Rifle Association’s professed willingness to be Trump’s squadristi.

NRA wants you — yes, you — to know they fight back. The resistance to Trump has not gone unnoticed, and they are Trump’s Army, the self-declared counterresistance.

Would it surprise you to learn the much admired (by us) Ruth Ben-Ghiat predicted as much a few day ago?

It shouldn’t. Nothing is surprising any more.