This is for our esteemed BMGers who appeared to have difficulty grappling with the political implications of my post this morning “Nate Silver explains politics of gun tyranny,” and voiced their concerns in the comments.
Richard Painter is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and was the chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. In other words, a former top Republican White House official speaks. NYT Op-Ed:
But the last election showed the costs to Republicans of succumbing to the N.R.A. and to other groups with extremist views on issues like homosexuality and stem cell research. The fringe groups, drenched with money and the “free speech” that comes with it, have stood firm, and become even more radical, as the population as a whole — including many traditional Republican voters — has moved in the opposite direction.
Gun violence in particular frightens voters in middle- and upper-income suburbs across the country, places like my hometown, Edina, Minn. These areas, once Republican strongholds, still have many voters who are sympathetic to the economic platform of the Republican Party but are increasingly worried about their own safety in a country with millions of unregistered and unregulated guns. Some suburban voters may keep a hunting rifle locked away in a safe place, but few want people bringing semiautomatic weapons into their neighborhoods. They also believe that insane people should not have access to guns.
A few clicks on the N.R.A. Web site lead you to the type of weapons the group wants to protect from regulation. Many are not needed for hunting pheasants or deer. They are used for hunting people. They have firepower unimaginable to the founding fathers who drafted the Second Amendment, firepower that could wipe out an entire kindergarten classroom in a few minutes, as we saw so tragically last week.
This is not the vision of sportsmanship that soccer moms and dads want or will vote for, and they will turn against Republicans because of it. Who worries about the inheritance tax when gun violence may kill off one’s heirs in the second grade?
Military grade weapons technology like that used to slaughter 20 first graders and their teachers one week ago — semi-automatic rifles and pistols, high capacity magazines, and special ammunition, weaponry “for hunting people,” as Painter accurately characterizes it — has to be banned for private ownership, just like hand grenades, machine guns, and mortars. Yvonne Abraham and the 99 percent of Americans who are not members of the NRA — let alone the nation’s children — should not have to live under their tyranny.