Based on his latest column, it seems like Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt could get behind a rewrite of John Lennon’s Imagine and release an updated version to reflect today’s call for gun control.
[Imagine] Prohibition… [Imagine] Mass buyback… [Imagine] A gun-free society…
He liked that last line so much, he asked his readers to repeat it with him: “Let’s say that once again: A gun-free society.” Bliss, he thinks.
Those words — prohibition, mass buyback, gun-free society — are what Hiatt says the NRA has rendered “unmentionable.” And so he believes its time American citizens take them back and leave being armed to the professionals:
Doesn’t it sound logical? Doesn’t it sound safe? Wouldn’t it make sense to learn from other developed nations, which believe that only the military and law enforcers, when necessary, should be armed — and which as a result lose far, far fewer innocent people than die every year in the United States?
And Hiatt isn’t even the least bit concerned that his suggestion could be used by the NRA to prove what it has always defined as a slippery slope with government regulation: “You see? Background checks today, confiscation tomorrow.”
Bring it on, says Hiatt:
I understand how difficult it would be. This is a matter of changing the culture and norms of an entire society. It would take time.
Hiatt, undoubtedly, would be one of the first to volunteer to man the flame underneath all of the gun-owning frogs, in order to slowly boil away their ownership rights one by one before they realized what had happened. He exhibits a belief that begins with incremental gun-control before moving into complete confiscation. That will have to include a cultural movement to push the government along, he argues:
There has to be a cultural shift. Only then will Congress and the Supreme Court follow.
As we’ve seen over the past 15 years with same-sex marriage, such deep cultural change is difficult — and possible. Wyatt Earp, the frontier mentality, prying my cold dead fingers — I get all that. But Australia was a pioneer nation, too, and gave up its guns. Societies change, populations evolve.
And people are not immune, over time, to reason. Given how guns decimate poor black communities every day — not just when there are mass shootings, but every day — this is a civil rights issue. Given how many small children shoot themselves or their siblings accidentally, it is a family issue. Given the suicides that could be prevented, it is a mental health issue. On average 55 Americans shoot themselves to death every day. Every day!
The Supreme Court, which has misread the Second Amendment in its recent decisions, would have to revisit the issue. The court has corrected itself before, and if public opinion shifts it could correct itself again. If it did not, the Constitution would have to be amended.
“It sounds hard, I know,” Hiatt continues. “But it’s possible that if we started talking more honestly about the most logical, long-term goal, public opinion would begin to shift and the short-term gains would become more, not less likely, as the NRA had to play defense. We might end up with a safer country.”
Hiatt’s final argument is that “with only kitchen knives at hand,” a lot less people die.
Echoing Hiatt’s beliefs is fellow WaPo contributor and government professor at Georgetown University E.J. Dionne, who released a similar article on the very same day. In it, he applauded President Obama for stressing the need to politicize the latest mass shooting in Oregon in order to finally make a move on gun-control laws. Dionne stresses that the president was “forcing us to face reality.” He says that it is high-time that politicians begin losing elections because of their opposition to gun control and alignment with “gun fanatics.” He, like Hiatt, lauds government confiscation and buyback, as happened in Australia after a mass shooting in that country.
But Dionne’s biggest gripe lies with conservatives whom he rhetorically pondered, “Is a dangerous and harebrained absolutism about weaponry really the issue on which American conservatives want to practice exceptionalism?”
Perhaps The Washington Post could lead by example and collect all guns owned by its employees, willingly of course, and then disarm its security personnel. Imagine a gun-freeWashington Post. Say that with me: A gun-free Washington Post.