Obviously, this piece is being written in the aftermath of the horrific event at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Before I go anywhere with this, I’m going to quote fellow Sports Blog Movement member Patrick Young who really encapsulated this terrible tragedy in relevance to a sports blog as well as I think it can be done.
Like many people, I have been deeply troubled by what happened in Newtown, CT this past Friday. Obviously not as much as the residents of the town, and certainly not nearly as much as the victims’ families, but my heart truly breaks every time I think about that tragedy for more than a second. I have found it difficult to force myself to write about anything as trivial as sports, and writing about the tragedy itself is not something I can accomplish. I simply do not have the words.
To the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, and specifically the victims’ families, you have my unending sympathy. If there was anything I could ever do to help you in this time of grief, I would do it without question. May God grant you peace and understanding.
But unlike Young’s eloquent words, I happen to see a relationship between what happened both in the Jovan Belcher situation and at Sandy Hook because in no time at all, both of them were used by people to advance a political agenda, and sports were used as a conduit to do so.
Having said that, it is time for a disclaimer. The following opinions are those of J-Dub, and do not necessarily reflect those of Patrick Young or any other member of Sports Blog Movement. In other words, if what you are about to read pisses you off, take it up with J-Dub and nobody else.
I’m just going to get it out in the open. It’s time for all you assholes who are using tragedy to advance your own causes to stop it. Stop it right now. I’m tired of your self-absorbed pontificating, I’m tired of your phony pretense of having some sort of “moral high ground,” and I’m especially tired of your injecting politics into sports.
Remember the days immediately after 9/11 when sports were viewed as some sort of collective salve America needed to promote healing in the aftermath of a horrible event? It’s pretty clear those days are gone.
For starters, there’s what President Obama pulled on Sunday night by scheduling a 45-minute, utterly pointless speech which thanks to NBC’s slavish idolatry of this blowbag meant the whole country was denied the first quarter of the Patriots-49ers game.
First of all, Obama’s speech was entirely pointless. He didn’t say a single thing you wouldn’t have expected him to say, and there was really no reason for him to go on for the better part of an hour other than to make sure he got some TV time for himself. Don’t even try to tell me that speech wasn’t deliberately scheduled knowing that NBC would carry it over the football game. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a game with monstrous playoff implications between two of the best teams in the country’s most popular sports league would have an inordinately large number of people tuned to NBC at 8:20 p.m. eastern time.
Think “slavish idolatry” is a bit harsh for describing NBC’s treatment of Obama? Let’s not forget NBC pressured the NFL to move it’s season-opening Thursday night game to Wednesday so it wouldn’t conflict with Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t notice anybody else getting NFL games rescheduled in order to maximize their television audience, and I’m pretty sure there’s nobody else NBC would wipe out nearly an entire quarter of football for. Not to mention, NBC didn’t even need to carry that speech; it was only on about eleventy bazillion other channels.
Of course, social network sites like Twitter exploded in protest, and naturally since many websites are run by Obama supporters, there became a need to make this an issue of Obama’s race, Deadspin decided it was necessary to run headlines like “TakeThat Nigger Off TV” just because there is this Kool-Aid going around that anybody who opposes Obama is inherently a racist.
Way to be classy, Deadspin. Let’s take a national tragedy and find a way to get the “N-bomb” in your headline because we all know that doing so drives readership numbers. There were tons of tweets that expressed the sentiment that Obama was merely preening on national television for his Kool-Aid gulping minions that didn’t resort to coarseness and vulgarity, but those got buried under the bullshit. Here’s a prime example.
First of all, go back to my original thought about how we used to view sports as a healer in times of tragedy. Obama clearly flushed that down the shitter for no other purpose than maximizing his own exposure. I’ll bet you he doesn’t get this reaction if he cuts that speech to fifteen minutes and gives it halftime. I’ll bet you he doesn’t get this reaction if he gives that 45-minute speech an hour before he did.
Obama isn’t the first guy to use a tragedy for personal gain, and he surely won’t be the last. Bob Costas did it over the Belcher incident, Obama did it here, but my favorite was the off-the-hinges gun control rant that came from New York Daily News columnist and waste of ESPN air-time Mike Lupica.
On last Sunday’s episode of the Sports Reporters, Lupica took the opportunity to share his special brand of lunacy with the 27 viewers ESPN gets for that 30-minute crap-fest.
In the aftermath of these tragedies we always hear about our right to bear arms and a Second Amendment written for muskets. But what rights did these children and their teachers have in small-town Connecticut? In a country fast-becoming a shooting gallery? We also hear that we should have a national conversation about gun control, when the truth is there’s no such thing in America.
To give Lupica some credit, he’s actually right about one thing; there’s is no gun control in America. Yeah, I know we have a shitload of gun laws in this country, and I know that every time we have a highly-publicized incident involving guns, there is yet another knee-jerk reaction calling for even more gun laws. The problem is that gun control laws have three fundamental problems that jerk-offs like Lupica completely ignore.
1) The anti-gun people have been exceptionally stupid
Face it, it’s really hard to argue against that “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” type of logic. The anti-gun crowd made their fundamental mistake by waiting for events like this to try to advance their cause. That means they get a few moments in the headlines in the aftermath of tragedies, while the National Rifle Association gets a long-running catch phrase with gems like “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It takes almost no intellectual power whatsoever to come up with a slogan like that, and yet the anti-gun people can’t counter it.
Not to mention, the gun control people have a fundamental problem. Gun control isn’t politically popular. Since 1990, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they think gun control laws should be stricter. The answer is that they don’t.
“The percentage in favor of making the laws governing the sale of firearms ‘more strict’ fell from 78% in 1990 to 62% in 1995, and 51% in 2007,” reports Gallup. “In the most recent reading, Gallup in 2010 found 44% in favor of stricter laws. In fact, in 2009 and again last year, the slight majority said gun laws should either remain the same or be made less strict.”
However, that isn’t to say the gun control movement has no shot. The same people who don’t want stricter gun control laws are the typical waffling American, which means they will also talk out of the other side of their mouths and favor silly bits of feel-goodism like banning possession of semi-automatic rifles, when it is the fully-automatic jobs that are the big gun “boogie man,” despite the fact they are already illegal to possess without a federal firearms license.
The part that really drives home the stupidity of the anti-gun crowd is that while they keep making their appeals in the aftermath of yet another tragedy, according to the Pew Research Center, mass shootings don’t change public opinion.
There has been no significant change in public views on the issue of gun control and gun rights following the July 20th shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Currently, 47% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 46% say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns. That is virtually unchanged from a survey earlier this year in April, when 45% prioritized gun control and 49% gun rights.
Other recent major shootings also had little effect on public opinion about gun laws. There was no significant change in the balance of opinion about gun rights and gun control after the January, 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona in which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was injured. Nor was there a spike in support for gun control following the shooting at Virginia Tech University in April, 2007.
Sandy Hook will be no different. To be successful, the anti-gun crowd needs to change it approach, and they have demonstrated time and time again they are too stupid to see that. They don’t understand that you can’t win converts with emotional appeals in the wake of publicized tragedies, because emotions fade and facts are forever.
2) Gun laws only exist to make anti-gun people feel better
This is an undeniable truth about gun laws. The NRA will have you believing that guns laws only disarm law-abiding citizens, which while true completely misses the point. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Morons like Lupica continually try to assault the Second Amendment, using logic like “…written for muskets.” A commenter on the Deadspin article made a tremendous point on this subject:
“If the Second Amendment was written for muskets, I guess the First Amendment was only written for printing press newspapers. “
Technology doesn’t change principles; besides, there is a proscribed method for changing the Constitution. If you don’t like it; avail yourselves of the process and do something substantive rather than pass toothless, unenforceable laws.
Let’s look at some pertinent facts which make gun laws pointless; look at this list and tell me which ones would have prevented Sandy Hook.
- Under existing laws, the federal government performed 14 million background checks on gun purchases last year.
- Another existing law, The Federal Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995, made it illegal for even licensed gun owners to walk within 1,000 feet of any school (kindergarten to 12th grade) while carrying a gun.
- The majority of guns used to commit crimes were obtained illegally.
- Federal law requires gun owners to report to law enforcement any guns known to have been lost or stolen.
There’s two other facts which really screw up the gun control crowd’s arguments. While 70 to 80 million Americans own guns, which means 40-45% of households in the U.S. contain at least one gun. Despite that, gun ownership is declining in America, according to political scientist Patrick Egan.
“…long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States. “
The second fact is that violent crime in America is also on the decline, per the FBI.
Violent crime rates in the U.S. are reaching historic lows, according to new FBI data released Monday. Instances of murder declined overall by 1.9 percent from 2010 figures, while rape, robbery and aggravated assault declined by 4 percent nationwide, according to records from more than 14,000 law-enforcement agencies around the country, FBI spokesman Bill Carter told msnbc.com.
Know what means, Lupica? That means despite your best attempts to advance your failed cause on the bodies of dead children, despite your best effort to capitalize on anecdotal evidence, America is not becoming a “shooting gallery.”
When you consider all of this, why do the anti-gun people keep beating their heads against the same wall? The only answer that makes sense is that gun laws are about making the anti-gun people feel like they have accomplished something, when in fact they have accomplished nothing.
3) Gun laws are virtually unenforceable
This is the big reason why gun laws are pointless. Go back to the statistic about 70 to 80 million Americans owning guns, which means 40-45% of households in the U.S. contain at least one gun. That’s just the guns we know about. Stop to consider and combine that statistic with the fact that the majority of crimes committed using a gun involved an illegal obtaining of said gun.
It begs the question just exactly how many guns are there in America today? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Nobody really knows. The FBI estimates that there are over 200 million privately-owned firearms in the U.S. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms puts the number closer to 250 million. When you combine that number with all the guns owned by the military and law enforcement, the number of guns in this country is probably somewhere between 300 and 350 million, all of which can be acquired through legal sale, illegal sale, and theft.
Do you know how large a number 350 million is? That’s more Big Macs than McDonald’s sells in six months. That’s twice the number of barrels of beer produced by Anheuser-Busch in a year. That’s more than enough for at least one gun for every man, woman, and child in America.
In other words, trying to get rid of guns in America would be like trying to soak up the ocean with a mop. If for no other reason, you’re simply too late; the gun genie is out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back in.
Face it, the only way you can have real gun control is if you confiscate all the guns. That’s a pretty tall order considering nobody really knows how many there are to grab in the first place. Not to mention, even if you did know, the only way to ensure you’ve collected them all is to start kicking down doors in some sort of Nazi-esque forced collection. The really fun part is that the minute you do that, you instantly legitimize all the right-wing militia kooks who have been saying all along that’s where this country was headed. Then, the revolution really starts.
Like it or not, the only thing Americans love more than cars is guns. As of January 2011, 39 states have laws permitting individuals with gun licenses to carry them concealed. Most states do not require the registration of guns. You are never going to get the guns out of America, so it’s time to look for another solution, because what the anti-gun crowd is doing now will not, nor will it ever work. As easy as it has been to blame guns, it has been equally ineffective.
Why have we been so interested in blaming guns? Because it is far easier for “symbolism over substance” America to demonize inanimate chunks of metal rather than to come to grips with the fact that our society is producing murderous sociopaths. Fixing that problem requires more than a quick bit of feel-goodism.
Deep down, even guys like Lupica and Obama know this. In fact, even the anti-gun people don’t trust President Obama. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence graded Obama an “F” on gun control, citing “extraordinary silence and passivity.” But that didn’t stop him from making sure we saw him spend 45 minutes telling us how terrible killing children is…like he has an exclusive grasp of the obvious.