Time To Rethink The Language Of Hate.

Following the murder of two Las Vegas cops and a “good guy with a gun,” it’s time to take a long look at those who are fomenting anti-government hate. The shooters, Jerad and Amanda Miller, had apparently been inspired by Cliven Bundy, as well as various militias and “patriot” groups. They believed the police officers to be Nazis and talked of a revolution against our government.

Far from being alone, the Millers are part of a growing segment of our population who have a perverse understanding of our Constitution, and who consider our government illegitimate. Since the election of President Obama, the non-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has noted a significant rise in such hate groups. A spokesman said that the SPLC’s Hatewatch had listed 139 hate groups in 2008, but over the last 5 years, the number has grown to more than a thousand.

Interestingly, these groups only seem to thrive during Democratic administrations.

The growth of hate groups is almost certainly the result of the constant anti-government, anti-Democrat hatred being spewed by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and many others. It’s even worse these days with the impact of social media and the Tea Party. Even so-called “traditional” Republicans and “Christian” churches must be held responsible for their words. These people have questioned the legitimacy of a president twice elected with large majorities. Instead of respecting the results of the elections, they have implied that there was widespread voter fraud. They have demonized gays, lesbians, Latinos, African-Americans, the unemployed and the poor.

They have called Obama the “Imperial President” simply for acting on his campaign promises. They called him a Nazi, a Socialist and a Communist (it’s clear they don’t understand the definitions of any of those terms) for signing into law a version of Romneycare. They have celebrated mockumentaries created by James O’Keefe that purported to show progressive groups participating in illicit activities. They have invented conspiracies and scandals over events similar to those they supported or ignored during Republican administrations. They rant about the growth of government even though cutbacks at every level of government have acted as an anchor on our economy since the start of the Great Recession.

The hatemongers have generated such a large following that it now threatens to explode in a new wave of violence.

Rather than being outliers such as Timothy McVeigh, the hate-spewing extremists have taken over one of our two dominant political parties. The haters have members of Congress, presidential candidates, militias led by retired peace officers, Tea Party groups calling for Second Amendment remedies, a cable “news” network making up lies and supporting seditionists, churches screaming hate-filled tirades at minorities, and bullies openly carrying AK-47s, AR-15s and shotguns into restaurants and large retail stores.

Thankfully, the SPLC has finally convinced the Justice Department to reinstate its domestic terrorism unit that was disbanded following 9/11. After all, terrorism is no less lethal if it comes from within. In many ways, domestic terrorism is more destructive than that imposed on us by foreign groups. It makes us distrust and fear each other. Our political system was founded on the debate of ideas; of the party in power being challenged by the loyal opposition. But if we don’t de-escalate the rhetoric that inspires people like the Millers, this isn’t going to end well.

What Good Are Smart Guns With So Many Dumb Gun Owners?

The National Rifle Association is apoplectic over attempts to market so-called smart guns by one of their own. They have threatened violence against the guns’ inventor and every retailer who has attempted to sell them. And they have shouted down those who support the guns by calling them just another attempt by the left to “take away their guns.”

Ordinarily, the fact that the NRA opposes something would automatically make me support it. But, on this issue, I have mixed emotions. On one hand, smart guns that can only be used by their owners wearing a watch-like device would likely prevent the deaths of children who innocently believe guns are playthings. On the other hand, the sale of these guns may give us a false sense of security. Don’t forget. Most of the guns would still be in the hands of the paranoid and mentally ill – the vast majority of those who purchase handguns today.

Smart guns wouldn’t have prevented the murder of Trayvon Martin or the movie-goer who was killed for sending a text to his young daughter. They wouldn’t have prevented a man from setting a trap and laying in wait to cruelly murder two unarmed teens who broke into his basement. They wouldn’t have prevented the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, at the Aurora movie theater, at Fort Hood, or at Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ Congress on the Corner meeting.

Certainly preventing the use of a firearm by someone other than its owner is an admirable goal. But it is only a beginning. Those who favor responsible gun reforms should view smart guns as only a first step. The bigger issue is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and those with a history of violence; to stop the marketing of candy-colored guns to children; to stop the sale of semi-automatics to gun nuts for use against law enforcement and the government; to stop the sale of sniper rifles and silencers; to stop the development and sale of plastic guns intended to escape detection; and to undo the so-called “carry everywhere” laws that make it legal to carry guns to bars, schools, events – anywhere that doesn’t have full security including metal detectors and gun storage lockers.

The Cliven Bundy armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management gives us a glimpse of the future of our nation with the current gun laws. Smart guns won’t stop the militia, domestic terrorists and the criminally insane from bullying and killing. The only way to do that is through stricter gun laws, gun buybacks and the end of our nation’s insane love affair with guns.