Emboldened by Betty McCollum’s plaintive cry for a “dialog”, I met my DFLer friend, AVERY LIBRELLE. Avery was just coming out of point-chanting practice at the Union building in downtown Saint Paul; we decided to have a dialog over a drink or two at the St. Paul Hotel.
MITCH: OK, a dialog about guns. OK, I’ll start by pre-empting one inevitable strawman; there are gun controls that actually reduce crime. They include keeping guns out of the hands of felons, and ramping up the sentences for gun crimes. They’re the measures the “Gun Lobby”, including but not limited to the NRA, have worked for. And they’ve worked.
LIBRELLE: The NRA is a terrorist group.
MITCH: Um…well, no. It’s an industry and hobby group that does some lobbying.
LIBRELLE: They are owned by the gun industry.
MITCH: The firearms industry certainly donates money to the NRA, since they are the biggest, baddest group fighting for their right to do business. They have the right to do that. But the NRA has always been one of America’s biggest grass-roots organizations. And it’s only getting bigger; it’s up 500,000 in the past six weeks. And that’s people who pay $35, at least, for a year; not a ton of money, but not inconsiderable in these tough times, either. And that’s up from 3 million in 1990.
LIBRELLE: Guns are out of control!
MITCH: Er, no. Violent crime is steadily falling, even as the number of guns in society approaches one for every American. Gun crimes are down nearly 50% in the past 20 years, along with crime in general. And the NRA worked with sensible politicians on both sides of the aisle to make that happen. In other words, the NRA has always supported gun controls that actually work – by attacking criminals, not the law-abiding.
LIBRELLE: But mass shootings are out of control!
MITCH: Well, no – media coverage notwithstanding, they’re actually less common than they were 20 years ago. In fact, the worst year for mass shootings was…1929.
LIBRELLE: But we have to dooooooo something.
MITCH: We’ve done something. It’s been working. It’s just that we haven’t done the “something” that our media establishment and its’ left-of-center political benefactors want.
LIBRELLE: We have to control guns. Period.
MITCH: Did you just use “Period” to try to prove a point?
LIBRELLE: Guns are out of control.
MITCH: Er, where do you get this?
LIBRELLE: You’re crazy.
MITCH: Um – what now? We’re having a dialog, right? And yet all you’ve done is recite chanting points and long-debunked stats.
LIBRELLE: I bet you’re compensating for something. If you know what I mean.
MITCH: Yep. Compensating for the fact that there is evil in this world, yadda yadda.
LIBRELLE: You’re just a cranky middle-aged bald white guy.
MITCH: And the last I checked the Constitution applies to us too. So – do you have any actual facts to bring to this “dialog?”
LIBRELLE: The NRA are fascists.
MITCH: So in response to decades of patiently-assembled facts that support my case, you have ad-homina and chanting points?
LIBRELLE: You’re cray-cray.
MITCH: That’s not, technically, “dialog”.
LIBRELLE: Why do you hate children.
MITCH: This isn’t dialog. This is me debating, you trying to trash me.
LIBRELLE: Now you’re having a melt-down.
MITCH: Don’t flatter yourself.
LIBRELLE: I should wear a flak jacket. You may try to kill me.
MITCH: That’s nuts.
LIBRELLE: Oh, now you’re attacking me personally! There’s no way to have a dialog with you gun nuts!