Patterns of Power
analysing power, publishing research material, commenting on abuses
As the debate on gun control continues, the real argument – of how best to protect America’s children – is not being resolved; the political horse-trading is described on HuffPost at http://tinyurl.com/a2odyru.
At http://t.co/B3Z7aj9O, Lisa Wexler suggested using economic pressure in the form of insurance, which isn’t likely to be very effective (would criminals insure their guns?) and is not really central to the argument. At http://t.co/nEKxh2ta, Josh Horwitz wrote about the Second Amendment to the Constitution, but mainly to say how irrelevant it is to the question of protecting children; at http://tinyurl.com/b949y63, in commenting on that post, justamessenger gave a succinct summary of why the right to bear arms was introduced. Neither the economic angle nor the legal angle is helpful when considering the merits of self-protection.
Amitai Etzioni’s article on gun control, at http://tinyurl.com/9wbjr9g, states that “A true liberal position, the place to start, is to call for domestic disarmament”. He agrees that the Constitution does not prevent such a solution but he fails to provide a convincing explanation of how it might be implemented. Would criminals really sell back their guns? Whereas it might be useful to articulate an ideal position during a negotiation on governance, both sides will need to compromise in practice.
On Wednesday 17 April the U.S. Senate suppressed debate on the country’s gun laws. A CNN report, at http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/17/public-opinion-gets-trumped-in-gun-control-defeat/, highlighted how politicians are failing to respond to the wishes of the people they represent. The Huffington Post reported that the impetus for change has come to a “Maddening End”; there was agreement that “The Senate was a stubborn institution… it might take changing its membership to pave the way for anything to happen.”
Many senators must have decided that they have a better chance of being re-elected if they oppose changing the laws on gun-control even though there is popular support for change (see http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm). They might think that “the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment”, to use President Obama’s words. For them to lose their seats at the next primary election, another candidate from the same party would have to stand against them – not necessarily on a gun-control platform – and no doubt LRA money would play a big part in their chances of success.
The suppression of the gun-control debate is, as President Obama said, “shameful”. It means that the arguments for and against the President’s initiative have not been put on record. Ordinary Americans will not have had the opportunity to see the different points of view put forward in a single democratic process – so it is quite possible that they have only heard one side’s case (depending on the news channel they follow). And it would appear that the political system is not currently capable of producing the results that the population wants.