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Opinion | One Nation, Under Guns

Gail: Thinking about the other toy options ….

Bret: On the other hand, I don’t think Democratic political tactics are at all effective. What did you think of Beto O’Rourke confronting Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas the other day at the news conference after the Uvalde massacre?

Gail: I admit you can’t ignore the fact that O’Rourke is running for Abbott’s job. Some would say he was grandstanding, but I’d say at a moment like this, confronting officials who’ve been longtime opponents of gun legislation is righteous no matter what the motives.

Bret: To paraphrase a line from Dirty Harry, a politician has got to know what state he’s running in. At this point, I suspect Beto is working harder to audition for a show on MSNBC than he is for the governorship of Texas.

Gail: And speaking of motives, what do you think of the Senate standoff? I know Mitch McConnell says he’s pushing for some bipartisan legislation, but kinda hard for me to imagine one without background checks for gun purchasers or red-flag laws that effectively block people with a troubling history on guns from buying weapons.

Bret: Republicans will never go for any of it because too few of them represent states or districts where they have anything to fear from constituents who might be having second thoughts about unrestricted access to firearms. They’ll also point to all the ways in which background checks and red-flag laws have failed to stop these killings, which ought to be a reason to strengthen these potential checks on mass murder, not dismiss them as irrelevant. So the sad truth is that nothing good will come out of this latest horror show, just as nothing good came out of all the past massacres.

Also, can I register a brief note of disgust with the typical Republican fallback line, which is that the real problem here is mental health, not the ready availability of guns? The argument would have us imagine that there aren’t disturbed, emotionally broken young men in Australia, Britain and every other country that somehow manages to avoid these constant atrocities.

Gail: Once again, we are in accord. But let me push a bit. If the real problem is mental health, isn’t it time to produce a big, bipartisan, Senate-ready bill appropriating a serious amount of money for mental-health treatment? Something that would let teachers, counselors, sports coaches and other caring authority figures easily summon up services for troubled kids?

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