October 24, 2010

The reactionary right never seems to tire of scaring itself

The chronic condition known as Bowels in an Uproar.

There is no better diagnosis for the astoundingly hair-raising chain emails perpetually circulating the reactionary right wing world. On the slimmest of evidence, it seems, the boogieman tales are swallowed... hook, line and sinker... and then faithfully forwarded on by the thousands.

Since my work regularly brings me in contact with military and public safety types, and since I own firearms and motorcycles, enjoy the shooting sports and riding, my circle of friends includes more than a few individuals from that side of the political spectrum – including some who take seriously the inevitable exhortation that they should “forward this to everyone you know,”

I find these scary messages in my inbox pretty regularly. 

Today I got a modern revision of an old, really tired, already debunked admonitory that first started its journey around the cybersphere almost four years ago. The reference was to a bill introduced in the 110th Congress by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), titled “Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2007.”

An early version of this particular scare missive was sent to me  by a biker/shooter friend/neighbor about the time the 2007 bill was introduced. This wasn’t the first time my buddy had done such, and asking this fellow to not fill my inbox with drivel does little good… when he gets excited he looses all perspective. At the time I scolded my excitable buddy to not take the mass mail garbage so seriously, and to PLEASE not inflict it on me.

Obviously that did little good, as today’s missive comes from the same excitable boy.

This is yet another of the urban myths that will not die. The original 2007 email was superseded in 2009 when Rep. Rush reintroduced the bill (I blogged about that at the time). None of the scary threats to our Second Amendment rights have materialized, yet to this very day the message continues to find its way into the inboxes of excitable wingers, who, like my little buddy, dutifully forward it on as if it were the newest and greatest socialist assault in the history of gun control.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the right wing is an easily frightened lot… is the same true for the left? If so, why do I not get those emails?

Anyway, in an effort to calm my little buddy we spent some time taking a look at this bill in particular, and similar bills in general. I'd hoped I could perhaps add some rational perspective to the legislative process and get him to understand that just because someone is shouting that the sky is falling, it does not obligate a knee-jerk reaction from him.

To some of the wingnuts, Rep. Rush’s bill is but the iceberg tip of gun control legislation yet to come, and that goose-stepping liberals will soon be waiting just outside our doors for the go-ahead to kick them down, confiscate all of our weapons and send our kids to FEMA reeducation camps.

Some other, more rational individuals, recognize the bill for what it is… a formerly DOA proposal dredged back up from the grave for another stab at success, yet still doomed to the same fate as in 2007. This kind of garbage legislation didn’t work in the 110th Congress... and it won't in the 111th.

There is just no stomach left in Congress for gun control, and for that reason the bill has failed to attract co-sponsors and faired no better this session than in 2007. At that time it died in committee without ever receiving a vote, and it faces the exact same fate today. 

This particular bill, while hailed by the right wing as evidence of leftist, faggot-loving, pinko-commie socialists determined to take our guns, but is really just another of the thousands of pieces of legislation offered up in every Congress, most of which never see the light of day. Some 94% of all introduced bills die in committee. Of the handful that pass, most are inconsequential. Only a comparative few of the bills passed into law are even mildly noteworthy.

So what is the moral of this story? Just because it is introduced does not mean that any given bill has  even the chance of a fart in a windstorm of becoming law. The right has no reason to continue the email fear-mongering... other than to perpetuate the fear they seem to require to ensure their base remains sufficiently motivated. For that reason alone, I'd bet it won't stop.

Donnie Shaw wrote an interesting piece just a few days ago, posted on the Open Congress blog, in which he addresses the scare-mail mania. The Blair Holt firearms bill is featured in the article.