And The Winner For The Dumbest Comment Made (So Far) About Guns Is Rick Santorum.

It’s time for me to issue a challenge to all my GVP friends: Which politician has said the dumbest thing about gun violence?  I don’t want to wait until next November because, frankly, some of these guys say things that are so dumb that if we waited another ten months to announce the results, the list would stretch from here to the moon.  Or at least from here to Fairfax, VA, if you know what I mean.  So what I’m going to do is post a dumbness comment whenever a particularly stupid thing comes out of one of the mouths of the clowns who actually believe they should be elected to lead the Free World, or whatever we are calling ourselves these days.  And the dumbest remark I can come up with right now popped out of the mouth yesterday of Rick Santorum, who is evidently still running for President, at least this is what he claimed he was doing in an interview on MSNBC.

When Santorum ran against Romney for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012, most of his campaign rallies were held at Evangelical churches and other conservative Christian conclaves because he spent his entire Senate career talking about nothing except ‘family values,’ which basically meant being the loudest anti-abortion voice in the U.S. Senate and really nothing else.  Since Trump has been married three times, I guess that Santorum figures the Evangelical, or at least the white Evangelical vote is up for grabs, so why not pitch the family values message again and, in the process, make sure to remind everyone that you are pro-gun?

santorum              Actually, I think the MSNBC co-host, Mika Brzezinski kind of got it wrong when she started off by telling Santorum that she thought he was a ‘smart guy,’ although maybe she was just being polite.  Anyway, she then asked Santorum, who had challenged American Muslims to confront extremism within their own community, how come he wasn’t challenging white men to come forward since it was white men who were ‘wreaking havoc’ with mass killings virtually all the time?

And here came Santorum’s response which I am nominating as the dumbest statement on guns that I have heard this year.  It all gets back to family values, according to Rick, and the fact that most of the crimes involving guns are caused by people who come from broken families headed by single Moms.  I’m paraphrasing slightly, but the bottom line is that what Santorum refers to as the ‘inanimate object,” a.k.a. the gun, has nothing to do with gun violence. It’s all about those kids from broken homes who don’t get proper guidance, a problem that Santorum claims he has been working on for ‘many years.’

Now let’s be honest, Rick.  When you were in the Senate, you didn’t get an A+ from the NRA for the way you voted on gun control because you had any interest at all in curbing deaths and injuries caused by guns.  In fact, according to you, none of the 100,000 gun deaths and injuries had anything to do with guns, it was and is because of the breakdown of the family, something that can only be reversed if we all pledge to adhere to your nostrum of ‘family values,’ whatever that means or doesn’t mean.

What really makes Santorum’s answer so embarrassingly dumb is not the fact that he didn’t answer the question.  It’s the fact that he didn’t answer the question by shifting the discussion to where he feels most comfortable, namely, reminding us that every social problem can be solved if we just had Ozzie and Harriet sitting in every American home.  Santorum continues to pretend that the definition of a ‘family’ can only be based on a concocted fantasy that certainly doesn’t exist today and probably never really existed at all. The truth is that gun violence comes in many different forms and grows out of many different social circumstances but it always starts with a gun.


Want To End Gun Violence? Stop Settling Arguments With Guns.

As soon as the word got around last week that a middle-aged, white man shot three young Muslim-Americans in Chapel Hill, the net exploded with the usual speculation about whether it was a hate crime, an attack on the Muslim religion, a civil rights assault, and so forth and so on. While the police haven’t yet ruled out the possibility of religious or ethnic bigotry, the preliminary indication is that the gunfire erupted during a dispute over a parking a car.  Three young, lovely human beings are dead because nobody could figure out how to find an empty parking space in a wide-open suburban parking zone.

Last year, a highly-decorated, retired police officer walked into a matinee showing of a movie in a suburb of Tampa and found himself sitting behind a young man who was texting messages to his daughter before the movie began.  An argument over whether the younger man should continue texting erupted, one thing led to another, the retired cop pulled out a gun and that was that.  At the time that these two gentlemen decided that staying put was more important than one of them moving to another location and thus avoiding any problem altogether, the theater audience filled less than 30 seats.

If you haven’t figured out the parallel between these two utterly senseless shootings, let me tell you what it is: nobody knows how to back down.  In each situation a man was legally armed, no doubt walking around with a weapon to protect himself against crime.  Of course the armed guys weren’t going to back down.  Why should they?  They had guns.  As for the victims, they weren’t about to walk away either.  After all, who were they to back down from a dispute in which they no doubt were in the right?

For all the talk about why the good guys need guns to protect everyone from the bad guys, the  truth is that more than 90% of the 31,000 gun homicides that occur each year are the result of someone’s inability to back down.  It’s what we call a lack of anger management, and if your anger gets out of control, being able to put your hands on a gun won’t result in protecting yourself against crime or against anything else, including anger directed at yourself.  It will probably result in you or someone else being seriously injured or seriously dead.

violence                According to the FBI, less than 15% of homicides each year occur during the commission of a serious crime; i.e., robbery, larceny, burglary or rape.  On the other hand, at least 4 out of 5 homicides grow out of arguments, and these arguments involve people who know each other.  And we aren’t talking about casual acquaintances – we’re talking about people who knew each other on a continuous basis and had been arguing and fighting over a period of time.  The personal connection between shooter and victim in domestic disputes accounts for virtually every single killing in which the victim is a female (who are 15% of all murder victims each year) and accounts for 100% of all suicide victims who, by definition, have allowed their anger at themselves or others to get out of control.

It’s important to remember that even when we are dealing with violence as a criminal offense, more than 1 million violent crimes were reported to the police in 2013, of which only 1% involved homicides using a gun. And the fact that someone has a propensity to behave violently doesn’t ipso facto mean that they would ever express this anger by using a gun. But there is no other form of personal behavior that is as dangerous and costly as pulling a trigger at yourself or someone else.  And I don’t think we will get very far just by trying to identify the most violent among us and then figuring out how to keep guns out of their hands.  Wouldn’t it be much easier to just get rid of the guns?

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