By Brigitte L. Nacos
For a moment or two after the mass shooting in Newtown before Christmas I thought that this was a real opportunity to counter the glut of assault weapons in the hands of millions of Americans. Who in heaven would not support reasonable regulations in a nation with far more handguns and far more shooting victims than any other comparable democracy?
I wasn’t naïve enough to think that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun industry that fills the NRA’s coffers would change their tune. But in the face of 20 little boys and girls mowed down by a lone gunman in a short shooting spree I hoped for some leaders in the ranks of the Republican Party to ignore the pressures and threats from the gun lobby and its fanatical followers in the militia and Tea Party movements.
It is now clear that I was wrong. Very wrong.
Yesterday, after President Obama introduced his comprehensive but altogether modest gun regulation proposals, the chairman of the National Republican Committee (NRC) Reince Priebus issued a statement that called the president’s initiative “an executive power grab” and criticized that Obama “paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights, but took actions that disregard the 2nd Amendment and the legislative process.”
As head of the NRC Priebus speaks for the GOP. He is the closest to what one would consider the Republican Party’s current leader. And what his comments boil down to is a sanitized version of what the paranoid wingnuts post on their web sites.
There has not been one Republican in the Congress who has refuted Priebus or those colleagues in their midst whose hate speech endears them to the gun rights fanatics. Not even in the face of those who talk about Obama’s impeachment; and not even in response to those who allude to a new revolutionary or civil war—the very nonsense dominant in far-right cyberspace communications.
This is what Tea Party darling and 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Rand Paul said even before Obama had introduced his gun regulation plan:
"I'm against having a king. I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress--that's someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch. I've been opposed to executive orders, even with Republican presidents. But one that wants to infringe on the Second Amendment, we will fight tooth and nail.”
Tooth and nail? Sounds like the call to arms in the virtual echo chamber of the militia and Tea Party milieu.