Over Our Dead Bodies

And while Congress busies itself by threatening to defund Obamacare at the risk of shutting down the government, we lay more Americans to rest.

Capital flag at halfmastIt was almost perfect. Or as perfect a mass shooting could be. The assailant was a black guy first of all, which helps the narrative that fuels the bottom line: Fear. If we could stay afraid of black guys, then we could feel justified in arming ourselves. And then it came out that the Navy Yard in DC where the shooting occurred was a “gun free” zone. Which plays even more perfectly into the hands of the NRA. “See that?” various right-wing news sources alleged. “The idea of a gun-free zone is a joke. It invites massacre. It is the opposite of a solution, which is, as we’ve been saying all along: More guns. Not less. Never less.”

Except there are some holes in that narrative. The first is that the Navy Yard was “protected” by gun-wielding guards. Just like Virginia Tech was. Just like Columbine.

The second was that the black guy obtained his gun legally. This throws a chink in the armor of one of the underlying threads of logic on the right that says that gun control is a fool’s errand because it only robs the good guys from getting the guns to protect the rest of us from bad guys with guns. Because we’re supposed to believe that black skin and bad are synonymous. This proved unfortunate when so many other American terrorists were white guys.

What the Navy Yard shooting actually does is to bring light to insufficient gun control laws. Because we have evidence – evidence that we don’t need time after time – that armed guards are not bullet proof. That they are not the lone answer. We know this, but we are not loud enough.

What we also know is that obtaining ridiculous multiple round assault weapons is too effing easy. That the background check safeguards are not enough. The assailant had multiple red flags including gun incidents and mental heath deficiencies that did not prevent him from obtaining a legal weapon. And while Congress busies itself by threatening to defund Obamacare at the risk of shutting down the government, we lay more Americans to rest.

So how about this? What if we go back to Congress with this equally off-the-wall idea that they can have Obamacare. They can dismantle it and defund it. They can rob the people of this country of their right to affordable healthcare. They can eliminate the right of Americans to be covered for pre-existing conditions. They can tell their twenty-five year old children that they are not eligible under their healthcare. We can continue to overpay in criminal capacity and max out our emergency rooms with non-emergencies. If they will do one thing: give up their guns. Australia-style. Turn them in. All of them. Rescind the second amendment, effective immediately.

Never happen, right? Pie in the sky?

Absolutely. And the left usually doesn’t work that way. We pass common-sense legislation through trickery and negotiation, through force and trial. And it comes in millimeters, and so watered down from its original form that it is unrecognizable. And the worst part? We’re grateful.


Because the Tea-Partiers have gotten a stronghold on the Republican party not by making sense, but by being loud and insistent. So much that their ridiculous ideas get credence in the mainstream just by wearing everybody down. Vote to repeal Obamacare forty-two times? Threaten to shut down the government? Fine. Give up your guns.

Let’s meet them where they are. They are not meeting us up here in rationality. Let’s start at batshit nuts and get the conversation that needs to be had out there. Remember in Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson’s
character outcrazies the criminals? We haven’t tried that yet. What if our Democratic congresspeople took on a new persona that said, “I’m surprised you haven’t heard of me, I got a bad reputation, like sometimes I just go nuts,” Mel Gibson-style (minus the anti-semitism.)


Might we bring serious gun control discussion to the forefront of the American conversation? Might we scare the right into doing what they know is the right thing by intimidating them with our own brand of crazy? Because twenty children mowed down in Newtown didn’t do it. So I say we go extreme. We’ve been so careful to say, “No one is taking away your guns,” to the right. And it hasn’t worked. So let’s start there and maybe we’ll negotiate ourselves down to something that actually makes sense. At the very least, might we expose them for what they are: excruciatingly irresponsible. And nuts.

And then let’s consider this. Is the idea of gun confiscation as crazy as shutting down the government unless the Affordable Health Care Act is defunded?

The answer to that shows just how far off course this country has gotten.


Author: Jaime Franchi

Jaime Franchi is a freelance writer living on Long Island. Her work can be found on Salon.com, Milieu Magazine, Punchnel's and the New York Times. www.JaimeFranchi.com

11 thoughts on “Over Our Dead Bodies”

  1. 1) As Emily Bazelon wrote yesterday, the combination of free access to guns and an ineffective mental health system is a recipe for disaster.

    2) If more guns makes the country safer, wouldn’t more weapons make the world safer? So why are we trying to prevent other countries from building nukes? (Which leads to the question suggested by your essay: Will adding more crazies to the political process make it less crazy?)

    3) Personal peeve: I’m glad you referred to the Affordable Care Act in your conclusion. Every time I hear someone, including supporters, refer to it as “Obamacare,” I want to scream.

  2. 1. I’m glad I didn’t make you scream. I love that Obama took ownership of the word.
    2. Emily Brazelon is totally right. But we’ve been saying that forever, and nothing changes.
    3. Re: Nukes – good point.

  3. My wife and I pay what is tantamount to most people’s house payment monthly for insurance. Oh, then we pay a house payment, cars, food, utilities and with a 12-year old, something new every day. We are both professionals and make decent money and still barely make ends meet. I think that the very stupid people of this country pay attention to the first word “Affordable” in The Affordable Health Care Act/LAW.

    From someone who has been on the brink of ruination by the health care/insurance “racket” (and that’s what it is), SOMEONE needed to try and make it affordable. With men like Loughner, Holmes, Cho, Lanza and now this week’s mass murderer de jour all suffering from either schizophrenia or selective mutism (Cho), if we continue to further ignore how supremely failed mental health care system, just WAIT until the PTSD of MILLIONS of our soldiers who have done 4-5-6 tours in war really kicks in.

    More efficient killing machines. That is what we are creating purely and simply.

  4. To continue with the numbering theme started by Richard…

    1) Party brinksmanship. I love it.

    2) You’re awesome.

    3) Best use of Mel Gibson photo in recent memory.

    If I could figure out how to put in the “slow clap” gif here I would.

  5. Amen! This has been my problem with the left for pretty much all my life. The politesse to the point that nothing gets done. Bring out Huey Long for a minute! It’s time. You have hit this thing square on the head, and done so with extreme eloquence. This and this alone is the answer, the one effective answer, to Republican intransigence. Meet them where they are instead of waiting for them to come up here. Guess what: They’re never coming up. It’s not stooping to conquer. It is putting the children to bed, kicking and screaming, and locking the door. Well said and once again, Amen!

  6. There’s a musical farce in this fiasco. Can we get backers for “JAMIE GET YOUR GUN or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Join the Bomb Throwers”?

  7. 1. Alexis had a long gun, not a semi-automatic. No one has proposed bans on rifles and shotguns.

    2. I’m not aware that his health problems would have gone onto any register. I have only heard of complaints in hotels and the like.

    3. Whatever the reasons for his military discharge, he had a security clearance, so he would probably have passed any background checks.

    A focus on individual cases of mass killing, in a crowded place or at a school, misses the point. Most killings occur among friends and family, but those are not the cases anyone mentions, except in local news media. The cases that attract attention are those where a killing occurs in the course of a felony, but this is a minority of cases.

    A focus on specific weapons used in mass killings, such as the one used at Tucson, misses the point. Many such guns are in widespread use for hunting, so singling them out angers too many people unnecessarily.

    Handguns are the main problem, and especially handguns kept in family homes. Handguns are the weapons used by street criminals. Handguns are the weapons used for impulsive and preventable suicides.

    Too many among us carry handguns, or keep them handy at home, in the belief that they can protect themselves against crime. Too many among us treat handguns more carelessly than one would treat car keys or a chain saw.

    Consider how Canada brought down gun deaths. No handguns. National register of guns as well as owners. Seven-day waiting period and background check before purchase. Short training course required. The US is too close for this system to be watertight, but it has proved effective.

    Both the Mexicans and the Canadians would be very pleased to see such a system here in the US, and I don’t think any genuine 2nd Amendment concerns would be affected. The bogus ones of the lunatic Right, which feed into the propaganda of the NRA, pressed by more militant competitors, need to be addressed with clear and well-publicized argument, as do the bogus statistics about how well people protect themselves.

  8. As a Tea Party advocate I would like to know what is ridiculous about the simple position of our patriotic citizens in advocating (not rioting in the streets like our counterparts)smaller government, lower taxes and the rule of law? It is not our voices that are loud, for unlike the radical left we are law obeying, sober, family people who vote legally. It’s our common sense agenda that is being heard quietly and the voting booth that has given the left fits.

  9. Oh (Uncle) Bill, if only the Tea Party was for smaller government and the rule of law, instead of being ruled by bigotry and proponents of religious oppression, you’d have a point. In fact, I might even join you. What drives us liberals crazy is the obstruction that goes against what the constituency is begging for: help. It doesn’t speak to Christian values when a political party exploits the most vulnerable among us for monetary compensation (only a teensy bit of which the voters will ever see.) The “common sense agenda” has them using tax payer money to vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act forty-two times and now threatening to SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT. For something about 6% of Americans want. That doesn’t speak to a fiscally conservative party, but one who has gone wildly off-course. And so there are peaceful protests to raise awareness.

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