Who thought that last week’s blog post on how parties lost their mojo and the power to slate and fund legislative campaigns moved, however erratically, to the now much more powerful legislative leaders would be followed by the loss of political power by yet another 800-pound gorilla, the National Rifle Association?
The massacre in Connecticut, the law of unintended consequences, and a widespread cry of “Stop! Enough already!” has combined to put a spotlight on what decades of bullying of legislatures everywhere by the vocal leaders and members of that organization have unintentionally but inevitably led to in this country.
By an odd coincidence, a federal court in Chicago had called the people of Illinois to task for not doing what 49 other states had done by failing to allow concealed carry of handguns. What side of the looking glass are we on here? This seemed to me to complete the circle of guns first, foremost, always, and everywhere.
I have always thought that it was sensible, logical, and civilized to confine the possession of weapons, the only purpose of which is to kill people, to those who police and defend us.
The paranoids at the NRA thought otherwise, and they have unaccountably won the day almost everywhere almost all the time.
By another odd coincidence this massive, countrywide reaction to what happened to those children in Connecticut came at a time when the legislatures which must be equally horrified and motivated to do something, anything in response have less and less reason to be fearful of the reprisal of this and all the other single-issue bullies who have been playing such a damaging and prominent role in our less-than-representative democratic system.
A lot of people, institutions, causes and organizations no longer threaten the tenure of most legislators anymore. They have districted themselves into seats that are lifetime sinecures if that’s the career choice they want.
I have been bellyaching about this for a very long time. But not this week.
The gods of good government have been overruled by the law of unintended consequences, and this serendipitous development makes something worthy but heretofore unimaginable quite possible.
It is, of course, clear that rationalizing and regulating the use of the kinds of weapons that have raised havoc across the country recently is going to take a very long time. It took a very long time to banish slavery, to contain smoking, and to rid our lives and communities of a lot of other bad ideas.
It is time. It is past time. Do it.
Bill Kraus has been co-chair of the Common Cause in Wisconsin State Governing Board since 1995.