Friday, January 08, 2016

CNN hosts Town Hall with President Obama, "Guns in America", and the sides talk past one another


Thursday night, Anderson Cooper(AC360 on CNN)  hosted a Town Hall with President Barack Obama called "Guns in America" at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

The NRA was invited, and Obama said it was just a couple miles away.  It’s maybe eight miles, where Route 50 meets Interstate 66. The NRA declined to be there.

There is really a gap on how the two sides think on this one.

The president sounded reasonable enough when he told a female rape victim that nothing in his XO would stop her from owning a gun (since she would pass a background check), and that improving the background check requirement would mean that if the criminal who attacked her were released from prison, we wouldn’t want him to have a gun again so he could come after her.  Of course, a criminal with street smarts is likely to get one anyway and can come after her again.

But another female from Texas said that she was frankly offended by the idea that women can’t defend themselves.

Taya Kyle (widow of Chris Kyle, "American Sniper") grilled Obama, story.


The president also acknowledged that different people live in alternate universes.  Upper middle class people can usually think “strategically” (or “positionally” as in a chess game). People in ghettos live from minute to minute (“tactically”).  The president also said that there had been shootings near his home in Chicago.  In fact, there were 5 shootings in Chicago the day of the debate.

Why are background checks such a big deal with the Right? Part of it sounds like the Right fears that the government will have data on people and come after them at some time in the future and take away their guns.  (Australia did have a big gun turn-in.)

The Right also says that we don’t require background checks for free speech. But people, on release from prison, sometimes are not allowed to have Internet accounts (such as sex offenders).

The idea that people would be better off if armed when in theaters, shopping malls, and discos may sound ludicrous.  Indeed, practically no owners of these private businesses will knowingly allow weapons on their premises.  It sounds unworkable.  Not simply airlines or trains, but subways and busses can’t allow them.  But what about when out on the street?  It’s very believable that in a particular situation, having a weapon and being able to use it could save my life, or better yet, prevent me from being maimed and a burden on others for the rest of my life.  (I had a close call in 2013; what if I had been pushed down a Metro escalator?)  Here’s a corker.  Someone I know may have been in the Bataclan during the Paris attacks.  The person is OK now but does not talk about what happened.  It doesn’t take much for the “being armed in public” argument on the right to take hold.   In Europe, gun laws did not protect the citizens in Paris, or those in San Bernadino, CA.  But maybe this really is a national security issue.  Gun laws could not have protected Americans from the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There seems to be a divide on the way the Right and Middle-to-Left view moral compass. On the Right, taking care of your own – that is immediate family and nearby community, often within a church fellowship – is of primary moral importance.  That extends beyond just providing for the children you “chose” to have.  Young males are expected to protect women and children and younger siblings in their family and community, regardless of parentage. “Loyalty to blood” (as in a particular episode of “Jake 2.0” back in 2003) rules.  That means ability to use a weapon to depend others in the family unit is morally required, with a mentality connected to the past military draft. The Right is likely to believe that it is difficult for a grown man to continue to carry out this responsibility without getting married (traditionally) and having his own children as his own domain.

Part of the moral vision of the far Right is that one must be able to survive, in a family unit, even if the global infrastructure around crumbles (as with terror attacks).  Call this the "Doomsday Prepper" mentality. The Right is inconsistent on the importance of securing and protecting infrastructure – but give Newt Gingrich his credit.  Why don’t Donald Trump and Ted Cruz talk more about cybersecurity or the power grids?

To the Left, the expected responsibility for others becomes much more global.  It is important to reach out to underprivileged or less fortunate people anywhere in the world (especially overseas), even if one does not form one’s own family.  Unearned wealth is a no-no, although sometimes the Right is capable to coming around to this idea, too.  The Left is more likely to “bargain away” an individual’s rights in a given situation for an abstract idea of common good.

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