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Reviews |  The GOP doesn’t think people should obey the rules


It’s hard to say which of the Republican responses to the latest mass shooting was the most reprehensible. Horrible Senator Ted Cruz has drawn considerable attention by insisting that the answer is to put armed guards in schools, no matter that the Uvalde school system has its own police force and officers seem to have was on the scene shortly after the shooter arrived.

And the Buffalo supermarket which was the site of a mass shooting just 10 days earlier also had an armed security guard, who was killed because his gun was not up to the shooter’s body armor. .

But if you ask me, the worst and also the scariest answer came from Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas. What we need to do, Patrick said, is “harden those targets so that no one can ever get in, except maybe through a single entrance.”

This restriction would have interesting consequences in the event of a fire. But either way, think about Patrick’s language: In a nation that is supposed to be at peace, we should treat schools as “targets” that need to be “strengthened.” What would that do to public education, which for many generations was one of the defining experiences of growth in America? Don’t worry, says the Federalist Society: Families can keep their children safe by homeschooling.

In fact, if you take the proposals of Cruz, Patrick and others at face value, they amount to a call to turn the land of the free into one giant gun camp. There are approximately 130,000 K-12 schools in America; there are nearly 40,000 supermarkets; there are many other places that could offer prey to mass killers. Thus, protecting all of these Republican-style public spaces would require the creation of a heavily armed and effectively military home defense force—heavily armed because it would face attackers with body armor and semi-automatic weapons— which would be at least as large as the Marine Corps.

Why would such a thing be necessary? Mass shootings are very rare outside of the United States. Why are they so common here? Not, according to the American right, because we are a nation where a troubled 18-year-old can easily buy guns and military-grade body armor. No, says Patrick, it’s because “we are a rude society”.

I know it’s a desperate effort to say this, but imagine the reaction if a prominent liberal politician said that the reason the United States has a serious social problem that doesn’t exist elsewhere is that Americans are bad people. We would never hear the end of it. But when a Republican says it, it barely makes a splash.

And I guess I should say for the record that I personally don’t believe that Americans, as individuals, are any worse than anybody else. On the contrary, what has always struck me when returning from trips abroad is that Americans are (or were) on average exceptionally nice and pleasant to be around.

What sets us apart is that it’s so easy for people who aren’t nice to arm themselves to the teeth.

OK, I think everyone realizes that nothing Republicans say about how to respond to the mass shootings is going to translate into real policy proposals. They barely try to make sense. Instead, they just make noise to drown out rational discussions until the latest atrocity drops out of the news cycle. The truth is that conservatives see mass shootings, and for that matter the surprisingly high overall rate of gun deaths in the United States, as an acceptable price for pursuing their ideology.

But what is this ideology? I would argue that while talking about America’s unique gun culture isn’t entirely wrong, it’s too narrow. What we really see here is a broad assault on the very idea of ​​civic duty – on the idea that people should follow certain rules, accept certain restrictions on their behavior, to protect the lives of their fellow citizens.

In other words, we should view vehement opposition to gun regulations as closely related to vehement (and highly partisan) opposition to mask mandates and vaccination in the face of a deadly pandemic, vehement opposition to environmental rules like banning phosphates in detergent, and more.

Where does this hatred of the idea of ​​civic duty come from? There is no doubt that some of them, like almost everything in American politics, are linked to race.

One thing it does not reflect, however, is our national tradition. When you hear about home schooling, remember that the United States basically invented universal public education. Environmental protection was once a nonpartisan issue: The Clean Air Act of 1970 passed the Senate without a single no. And Hollywood mythology aside, most Old West towns had stricter limits on carrying guns than Governor Greg Abbott’s Texas.

As I suggested, I don’t quite understand where this aversion to the ground rules of a civilized society comes from. What is clear, however, is that the very people who cry ‘freedom’ the most are doing their best to turn America into a dystopian ‘Hunger Games’ type nightmare, with checkpoints everywhere. , dominated by armed men.

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