You may have heard of Carolyn McCarthy. She’s the Democratic congresswoman leading the charge to outlaw the high-capacity magazines used by the gunman who fatally fired into a crowd that had turned out to see her colleague, Gabrielle Giffords. (Giffords herself is a reliable pro-gun vote in the House. Her doctors probably haven’t told her about McCarthy’s efforts yet. They may be saving that until it’s time to see if Gabby can extend her middle finger.)
McCarthy also has the dubious distinction of being my own community’s representative to Congress. I live in one of those suburbs of a large city where people identify strongly with the Republican party even though, if you ask them about their beliefs issue-by-issue, they actually support Democratic platform planks. (Such doublethink is endemic in America, as you can tell from the healthcare debate redux.) It might not surprise you to learn that our Dem congresswoman registered with the GOP once she was old enough to vote. McCarthy remained a registered Republican even after she was elected to the House as a Democrat, and re-elected, and re-elected again. (She finally had the operation done in 2003.)
What’s unique about McCarthy is the reason why she ran for office on the ticket of a party with which she had never identified before. It’s because of her stance on gun control. When her husband was killed and son wounded by a crazed mass murderer on a commuter train in 1993, she took on the cause with, literally I suppose, a vengeance.
So, knowing full well that she’d be painted as a politician who won’t let a good tragedy go to waste, she launched her current campaign to ban the high-cap mags that had been illegal for 10 years under the assault weapons ban.
As a good constituent, I “liked” my representative on Facebook a few months ago. As you can imagine, her page has become a bulletin board for her gun control positions over the past few weeks. It has also become a magnet for Second Amendment proponents to contradict her positions. Some of them are quite eloquent and many of their arguments are well-constructed and worthy of inclusion in any synthesis of ideas.
But some are just, plain, loony. (Same could be said for both sides, in all candor.)
Like this gem from yesterday, posted by somebody who identifies himself as Patrick Onesty, whose Facebook page indicates he lives New York’s Hudson Valley, not far from where my cousins grew up outside New Paltz. For those of you who don’t know the area, making customized Hacky Sacks to be sold in parking lots of Phish concert venues is a major local industry.
Anyway, here’s what Onesty (a Switchboard.com lookup suggests this is his real name, though I bet he gets a lot of skepticism) had to say in response to McCarthy’s posting of a Washington Post editorial supporting her proposed ban:
Imagine a lone survivor in a fire fight trying to defend himself and his wounded comrades with a 6 shooter. Get real Carolyn, don’t be an ass!
And here’s what I had to say to him:
“Lone survivor in a fire fight”? Patrick, your FB page says you’re in Pine Bush, N.Y. I got family from around there. Who would you be shooting at, dude? Hippies? Before you waste your ammo, the term “shotgun” means something different to them.
A few days earlier, we heard from a frequent troll on McCarthy’s page who identifies himself as Kevin Morris. According to his Facebook page, he recently attended community college in southern Arizona. So I figure he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to his right to be armed to the teeth. Morris’s main complaint is that McCarthy keeps posting policy-level support for her positions without offering data from studies that indicate gun control saves lives. And that’s a fair criticism, but I don’t recall Morris ever posting any evidence in support of his position, either. (Others have.)
Here’s where he inadvertently baited me into the debate:
Is it logical to support a bill that will have no impact on crime or homicides? How about we step up and ban fast cars? Alcohol? Kitchen knives?
Thank you. My response:
Glad you brought up cars.
Yes, we ban fast cars.
If a car’s sole purpose is to race, it is generally not permitted on public roads except as towage.
But for the vast majority of cars that are permitted, there are maximum and minimum speed limits, safety requirements mandated at point-of-sale and safe operation laws that must be obeyed.
I believe (although there may be an exception or two) that every state in the Union requires a a title transfer upon transaction. And that only permits you to have the car towed onto your property, where you are free to drive it around your back yard as much as you want.
But if you want to park it on a public thoroughfare, it must be registered and inspected. If you pull away from the curb, you must be licensed, requiring you to prove knowledge of road rules, manual dexterity adequate to operate the vehicle, and visual acuity adequate to ensure that you can read the signage and be aware of objects and people in the road. You must also carry proof of insurance.
Inspection standards, drivers’ test emphases and insurance requirements do vary state-by-state, as it should be.
If your point is that gun ownership is akin to owning that other deadly weapon that is so ingrained in American culture — the automobile — and ought to be similarly regulated, then I agree, but I don’t suppose that is your point.
One more thing about the car analogy: It’s often a bad idea to own one if you live in the city.
Morris had one other parting shot in his posting:
I suppose some of you people also thought the Titanic wasn…’t going to sink? And that men read Playbo[y] for the articles?
This guy is just the gift that keeps giving. Please, Arizona GOP, run Kevin Morris for Senate.
Oh, and Kevin, since the advent of the Internet, the articles really are the only reason to buy Playboy. ;-}