Liberals like Melissa Harris-Perry savor vigorous debate about guns, provided that it excludes what they don't want to talk about.
For example, whether gun laws they hold so dear make our lives less safe. (video after page break)
Harris-Perry, host of an MSNBC weekend show, was subbing for colleague Rachel Maddow on Friday night and reporting on the massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
After citing a statement on the horrific rampage from Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., Harris-Perry described similar sentiments from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg --
HARRIS-PERRY: Congresswoman McCarthy, like the Brady Center, arguing that now is actually the wrong time to put aside politics, that now is precisely the time to have this conversation as a nation. Also pressing that case today was mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg. New York City has been absolutely wracked by gun violence this summer. During the first week of July alone, there were 62 different shootings across the city and that was in just one week this month, a 28 percent spike in gun violence from the same time last year.
So Mayor Bloomberg appeared on local radio station here in New York today and he offered this reaction to the events in Colorado --
BLOOMBERG: Soothing words are nice, but maybe it's time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it. ... This is a real problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities, specifically. What are they going to do about guns? ... Everybody always says, isn't it tragic and, you know, we look for, was the guy, as you said, maybe reinc-, trying to recreate Batman, and there's so many murders with guns every day, it's just gotta stop.
Just as it clearly hasn't stopped in New York City -- "New York City has been absolutely wracked by gun violence this summer" -- despite the city imposing some of the most burdensome restrictions on gun owners in the country. But if shootings in NYC plunged by 28 percent, do you think Harris-Perry would neglect to trumpet those restrictions?
While New York City doesn't ban handgun possession outright, the licensing requirements are onerous, including a license fee of $340 ($140 for rifle or shotgun) and an additional "fingerprint fee" of $91.50. (That 50-cent specificity makes for a nice bureaucratic touch, don't you think?).
Moreover, once an NYC gunowner brings his or her firearm home, the city's gun laws extend further impositions. "You have to have it locked up or disassembled, and you have to have the ammunition in a different room," says Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. "It's ridiculous."
In addition to being mayor of New York City, Bloomberg is also co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Harris-Perry pointed out. The organization was one of 33 groups that released a statement in response to the Aurora shooting that condemned an "out of control, militarized gun industy that prides itself on selling increasingly lethal products to virtually anyone with little concern for inevitable tragedies that result."
The NRA's response to Aurora was terse -- "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community. NRA will not have any further comments until all the facts are known," arguably the most rational statement made in response to the massacre.
More from Harris-Perry on the need for further "conversation" about guns --
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney were in agreement today that politics should not be part of the conversation right now. Politics should in no way color our reaction to these heroric (sic), excuse me, horrific incidents in Colorado. But politics is about policy and it's about what we do as a country to deal with the problems that we face. They may not want politics to intrude here, but as the story continues to develop, they may not have much of a choice.
A variation on Trotsky's claim that you may not be interested in the dialectic, but the dialectic is interested in you.
By all means, let's engage in the conversation that Harris-Perry suggests -- and touch upon what's happened in Washington, D.C., since 2008 when the Supreme Court's Heller decision struck down a long-standing ban on guns in the capital.
The result? The homicide rate in the city has plunged to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. Had homicides from firearms in Washington soared since Heller, you think Harris-Perry would have glossed over that too?
A conversation that should surely also include what's happened in Colorado after its legislature passed a concealed carry law in 2003. Here's how it is described in a report released earlier this year by the Cato Institute's Clayton E. Cramer and David Burnett (see page 17) --
After Colorado's 2003 concealed carry law was enacted, Colorado State University decided to allow concealed carry, while the University of Colorado prohibited firearms. The former observed a rapid decline in reported crimes, while the latter, under the gun ban they claimed was for safety, observed a rapid increase in crime. Crime at the University of Colorado has risen 35 percent since 2004, while crime at Colorado State University has dropped 60 percent in the same time frame. The increase in University of Colorado's crime rate, however, was almost entirely in the category of theft.
Yes, let's have the conversation Harris-Perry suggests, even while her hands remain firmly held to her ears, and make mention of GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert's remarks, widely ridiculed on the left, that the massacre in Aurora was an assault on Christian values that may have been averted had someone else in the theater had a gun.
I'm still eagerly waiting for a liberal talking head to tell one of the movie-goers who survived the bloodbath how it could have been so much worse -- had that person been armed.