Sunday, July 29, 2012

He Of Little Faith In America

It may be the smugness, the "rest of the world is just so inadequate" sense of superiority coming from Mitt Romney. Or it may be his obvious discomfort when, answering a question asked of him by Brian Williams about the 6,000 rounds of ammunition accused killer James Eagan Holmes evidently purchased over the Internet, he changed the topic to the economy.   Or perhaps it is the sheer dishonesty displayed by the former governor when he responded

Well, this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and-- and-- and other devices. And-- and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them. And-- and so we can-- we can sometimes hope that just changing a law will make all bad things go away. It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential to improve the lots of the American people.

It's not clear what "many of those things" which were "illegal for him to have" were.   CBS News reports

Chad Weinman runs, which caters to police officers looking to augment their equipment, members of the military who don't want to wait on permission from the bureaucracy for new combat gear, and hobbyists like survivalists and paintballers. The site receives "thousands" of orders daily, sometimes from entire platoons that are about to deploy to war zones.

On July 2, Holmes placed a $306 order with the site for a combat vest, magazine holders and a knife, paying extra for expedited two-day shipping to his Aurora apartment. The order, Weinman said, didn't stand out.

"There's a whole range of consumers who have an appetite for these products, and 99.9 percent of them are law-abiding citizens," Weinman said. But he said that "it makes me sick" that Holmes bought material from him. He added that he doesn't sell guns or ammunition and that he was "shocked" at the amount of bullets that Holmes allegedly bought online.

The federal law enforcement source also told CBS News that authorities obtained a video of Holmes picking up approximately 160 pounds of ammunition from a FedEx store.

Authorities say all of Holmes' purchases were legal — and there is no official system to track whether people are stockpiling vast amounts of firepower...

The four guns used in the shooting were purchased legally at three Colorado gun stores between May 22 and July 6, CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports. Those weapons included a Glock pistol from a Gander Mountain store in Aurora, another Glock and a shotgun from a Bass Pro Shops in Denver and an assault rifle from a Gander Mountain in Thornton, Colo. 

Versions of the AR-15 rifle that law enforcement officials said Holmes bought had been outlawed under the assault weapon ban in 1994. But that prohibition expired in 2004 and Congress, in a nod to the political clout of gun enthusiasts, did not renew it.

Holmes also acquired explosive materials and equipment to rig his entire apartment with a complex series of booby traps that took authorities days to dismantle. Officials have not said how he obtained the material for the devices...

The high-capacity magazine had also been prohibited under the assault weapon ban, and even though the federal law expired a few states outlaw the devices. Colorado, which has relatively permissive gun laws, does not.

Internet sites, obviously, don't restrict their sales to Americans.    After a Norwegian man killed dozens of children at a summer camp in July of 2011, Politico reported

Anders Behring Breivik wrote in a 1,500-page manifesto that he bought 10 30-round ammunition clips for his .223 caliber rifle from an undisclosed, small U.S. supplier, which had acquired the clips from other suppliers. Norway forbids the sale of clips for hunting rifles that hold more than three bullets, according to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Perhaps this is an example of what Romney means when he refers to "American exceptionalism."   Or perhaps he is  referring to the homicide rate in the U.S.A., which, Politifact notes (according to most recent statistics) "was 3.0 per 100,000 compared to an 0.3 for the rest of the NATO nations. The U.S. rate was 10 times higher."   After all, the presumptive G.O.P. presidential nominee, expressing genuine political correctness, is sure Europe is so inferior to the U.S.   In his response to Williams query about ammunition, Romney advocated "more good jobs for middle-income Americans" and remarked

When that happens, they'll have more money to buy the things they want to buy. That helps the economy. They can pay more taxes with higher incomes. That gets us to a balanced budget. We're-- we're at-- a point here where we have two different roads we can go down. One leads to Europe. The other leads to the kind of dynamism and prosperity, which has always characterized America.

We don't know if the "dynamism and prosperity" Europe lacks and America possesses includes the urge to buy a firearm and ammunition and proceed to kill other Americans en masse, which the Brady Campaign documents has occurred 62 times since 2005.    (If you missed that, perhaps you haven't been paying attention to our "liberal media," which has ignored the story.)  Mitt Romney, who modestly claims to be "an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country," assails President Obama for allegedly lacking such faith.  But while rhetorically enthralled with the concept, the presumptive GOP nominee demonstrates an odd view of American exceptionalism.

Romney, clearly, was sending a message to the NRA and gun enthusiasts when he claimed "we can sometimes hope that just changing a law will make all bad things go away. It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential to improve the lots of the American people."   But he is setting a narrow limit to what Americans can accomplish by suggesting we passively wait for a change of heart.

Alternatively, we can act to prevent some of our annual (approximately) 13,000 murders and 20,00 suicides and incidental shootings.      The candidate's answer is clear:  we can do nothing because we must be satisfied with what we have.    In some precincts, the American spirit is alive and well.   But it is alien to Mitt Romney .

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