'I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?' — Tweet from State Rep. Nate Bell (R-Arkansas)
I'm pretty sure the answer to that is: Zero.
But it is amazing how much can happen in a very short amount of time, and yes, how much utter stupidity.
A week ago today, we were putting the finishing touches on the most recent print edition of Connect Savannah, as we do every Monday. That afternoon, the first reports came in of bombs at the Boston Marathon.
In the ensuing seven days, between that print deadline and this one, a dizzying avalanche of increasingly unlikely events cascaded across the country, each with its own set of hard-to-reconcile ramifications:
• The Boston bombers had their mission terminated, one dead in an action-movie gunfight, the coup de grace delivered as his own brother ran him over; the remaining brother found bleeding in a backyard boat, throat injury rendering him incapable of speech. An entire city shut down from one end to the other in the massive manhunt.
• A far greater loss of life in Texas, as a fertilizer plant explosion killed 14. It was a grim echo of the Imperial Sugar plant explosion in Savannah, and one can't help but ponder the role of wholesale industry deregulation in both lethal events.
• Poison-laced letters were sent to a senator and to President Obama.
• A modest gun control bill — centered on universal background checks, which have about 90 percent support across the country — failed in the Senate.
As is often the case these days, people found a way to tie these events and issues together, whether inane statements by inane politicians (see Rep. Bell's idiotic remark above) or more poignant ways (the final leg of the Boston Marathon was dedicated to the victims of the Newtown shootings, then so massively disrespected by the Senate a few days later).
Buffoonish Texas Gov. Rick Perry — he of the threat to secede from the union over Obamacare — was quick to demand the Lone Star State's full ration of federal disaster aid in the wake of the plant explosion, insurrectionist principle be damned.
The fact that the Boston bombers were in the country legally didn't deter some people from lobbying that much harder against immigration reform — which, last time I checked, was intended to oversee a streamlined process, not lead to more anomalies like the Tsarnaev brothers.
Still, there was some real good that came out of last week. With every new threat or incident of terrorism we face, we see a heightened ability to respond, at the professional level and the personal. It's sad to point that out, but also somewhat inspiring.
First responders and various agencies are vastly better trained for these types of incidents than in pre-9/11 days. Individuals and communities are now much quicker to band together in the wake of such threats.
Not long ago I would have laughed at the idea of an entire metro area the size of Boston essentially shutting down, in a largely voluntarily fashion, to aid law enforcement in catching a pair of terrorists.
It's not necessarily the most heartening precedent. One likes to think we should be able to Keep Calm and Carry On — but you have to find the good where you can.
To my mind however, the most demoralizing development by far, all things considered, was the defeat of the firearms background check bill in the Senate.
If common people are coming together in the face of terror, this was an example of politicians specifically not coming together to serve the overwhelming desire of those common people they represent.
Due to the galactically stupid procedures now in place in the Senate — wherein a 60-vote majority is needed to ensure passage, quite the opposite of the founders' intent and what a filibuster is actually for — this potential law with nearly universal public support won't see the light of day.
The handful of Republican votes in favor wasn't enough to counter the votes against it by red-state Democrats, spineless as always when it comes to choosing between voting for the long-term good and a short-term suck-up to a vocal special interest group, in this case the National Rifle Association.
The Senate's institutional failure to respect the will of the people — keep in mind the bill did get a majority of votes, just not enough — will likely stand as a historical image of government dysfunction.
(The president accurately called it "a shameful day in Washington," though much of the blame should go to his own majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, who insists on keeping these mutant "filibuster" rules.)
It boggles the mind that the most basic possible measure to avoid future Newtown shootings — a measure supported by nine out of ten Americans — not only didn't pass, but never stood a chance of passing.
Speaking of Red-State Democrats: It's that awkward moment when I have to bring up The South Magazine's new issue. I'm sorry to report that it features a cover photo of Ga. Congressman John Barrow posing with a rifle, a la his infamous TV ad from last year.
Readers are of course directed to the services of various gun-oriented businesses. The story, such as it is, deals with efforts to preserve gun rights. Indeed, the banner over Barrow's head on the cover reads, "The Fight for Our Second Amendment Rights."
Uh, mission accomplished, South! Congratulations. Thanks for your civic activism.
I'm not the first person to contrast the all-out, all-hands-on-deck capture of the Boston bombers with the utter inability of this country to do jack-squat of any kind about limiting the number of high-capacity, military-style weapons in the hands of freaks.
But I'll do it again just in case.
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