Do you recall the tale of Brave Sir Robin? In Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail, Sir Robin’s minstrels sang, “When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled. Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about, and gallantly he chickened out. Bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat.”
Pondering Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s moral courage by sticking up for gun rights in the wake of yet another massacre, I could not help but think of old brave Sir Robin.
Kasich’s reaction to the tragedy, to defend a political constituency that never switches out of rabid defense mode, is atrociously cowardly, wholly uninspiring, and sadly unsurprising.
“Look, one thing you learn is, you can strip all the guns away but the people who are going to commit crimes or have problems are always going to have the guns,” Kasich said, as reported by The Hill. “…Stripping law-abiding citizens of their guns, I just don’t know, I don’t believe it would get the job done. I just don’t.”
Never mind that nobody serious on this issue is suggesting we strip law-abiding citizens of their guns.
What the hell is wrong with this man Kasich? His first instinct after hearing about yet another mass shooting is to set up the noxious “they want to take all our guns away” straw man, knock it down, and move merrily along, content to do nothing. What a strange, creepy dude.
Compare this lack of leadership to the press conference from President Barack Obama yesterday, where his anger over gun paralysis in America dripped from every word.
From The Gray Lady:
“So tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate,” the president said in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named for a man severely wounded by a would-be assassin’s bullet, “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save these lives and let these people grow up.”
Think about how to get government to change these laws… I can’t tell you how often I have. Having done that hard-thinking, and having written over and over, tragedy after tragedy, calling for a reasonable dialogue about our unreasonable laws, I have to admit, I’ve become drained on this issue.
My initial reaction to the latest tragedy—after crushing sympathy for the victims and their loved ones—was the arrival of the sadly expected acknowledgment that it’s just gonna keep happening, folks.
Politicians know they won’t pay any price at the polls for doing nothing, but will if they try to do anything. They know they’ll be painted as wanting to take all guns away, even if all they want is a better system of background checks.
I’ve bemoaned this frustrating fact since Newtown. If two classrooms full of dead six-year-olds didn’t change anything, nothing will.
In these first days, we are hearing a lot of the rallying cries. The President’s address and a changing tone in national headlines seem to reflect my own deep frustration that though 90 percent of Americans support expanded background checks, it’s nigh impossible to get anything done politically on this issue.
Of course, on the flip side, we are hearing the same old rubbish from the same old creatures.
With over 30,000 Americans dying every year due to gun violence, I would like to hope that we could get some movement to do something, to at least try to do something, sometime soon. But knowing our national attention deficit disorder as we do, it’s hard to hold onto that hope. As Gore Vidal never tired of pointing out, we are, after all, the United States of Amnesia, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.