The Disgusting Lack of Empathy of Gun Owners of America’s Michael Hammond

Today there was a very calm discussion on guns on KQED’s Forum radio show.ThanksNRA

It was exactly what the NRA wanted; a discussion a month after the last big shooting so that the conversational focus can move away from the emotional pain of 20 dead kids.  It was all very rational. And that pissed me off.

During the conversation Hammond threw in the perfunctory line, “our hearts and minds go out to the victims of that horrible shooting.” How many times have you heard that line right before they switch to talking about the needs of a small group of entitled, self-indulgent jerks who think their desire to go “pew pew pew” with real army weapons outweighs everyone else’s rights?

Here is the link to the question, his response, the perfunctory line and then the pivot away from the tragedy to his figures on gun deaths in New Hampshire.

I’ve been listening to lots of gun enthusiasts’ podcasts lately. They are desperate to show how this shooting has nothing to do with their obstruction of sane gun laws and gun hawking.  If they didn’t personally put the semi-automatic into the person’s hand and said, “Go shoot ’em.”  they think they are fine.  The reality is that they have spent years developing policies, blocking laws or creating laws that ensure these shootings happen on a regular basis. Their work ranges from laws blocking research on gun violence at the CDC to outlawing the use of computers to keep track of weapons.

My friend Anat Shenker-Osorio had mentioned a book, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman about how when we switch to numbers and statistics during a conversation it actually removes the blood from our brain’s emotional center. In some cases this is a good thing. Especially if you know you will lose an emotional argument and you know that you can cheat on your “intellectual” argument.   In this case it helps the Gun Owners of America’s spokesperson because it enables him to transition from talking about dead kids to talking about abstract data. The listeners and others are then busy working to counter the abstract data. They are thinking, is what he is saying right or wrong?  What is the source?  What is my comeback?”  Julie Leftwich, legal director for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, did a fine job of countering him and refrained from calling him a bald face liar.  Then, while we spend our time refuting them, the  NRA and GOA move focus away from dead bodies sacrificed on the altar of their extremist members who can’t be denied their fun.

Soon we will move into the policy discussions revolving around Biden’s recommendations. I want everyone to remember how we felt one month ago. My friend Cliff Schecter, who does work for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, says that things are different this time. I believe him. Cliff is usually right. Things will change. But let’s be prepared for the planned push back.

The NRA will bitch and moan and talk about how they are the real victims, how they didn’t shoot anyone and ask why they should be punished for the acts of an “evil doer.”  They will dodge any kind of responsibility, accountability and liability for the gun-filled environment we live in, as if the guns sold themselves.

I’ve talked before about how I’m pro-public safety. And because of that you will not see me lumping these NRA and GOA people in with my friends who own and use guns. Especially when my friends have shown time and time again their acceptance of, and desire for, increased limitations on certain types of guns. They agree on extensive gun training, universal background checks and real mental health programs. These people are part of the solution.  The people I’m disgusted by are the ones who make sure the problem continues.

You’ll be seeing lots of policy wonky stuff  this week which can and should be discussed rationally but let’s remember that there is nothing wrong with using emotion to effect change. The right has used fear and anger for decades to create the world they want. They aren’t using love of children. They aren’t using desire to save lives of others. They appeal to ego, greed and the insecurities of weak people. They use fear, play the victim card and create situations so people can justify bringing out their inner asshole.

I want us to use emotional levers to lower gun deaths in America, which some might see as contrary to what they expect from me. But given the life and death stakes, our human impulses  and the political environment we live in, I think this method is the most logical path to follow.

We can’t go on with the status quo. We can’t let them stop change. If they win, and prevent change, it will be over your dead child’s body.

Cross posted to FireDogLake

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