Thursday, March 30, 2023

Good Anger

It was not a quiet day in the corridors of the House of Representatives as Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a 

former middle school principal, yelled at his GOP colleagues Wednesday and repeatedly called them “cowards” for not supporting stricter gun measures in the wake of the Nashville school shooting.

The exchange between Bowman, D-N.Y., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., occurred just outside the House chamber and was widely circulated on social media after several journalists posted video of it.

Bowman, a former principal at Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, can be heard yelling: “They’re all cowards! They won’t do anything to save the lives of our children at all!”

He continued: “Pressure them, force them to respond to the question: Why the hell won’t you do anything to save America’s children? Let them explain that all the way up to Election Day on 2024.”

Several lawmakers walk by Bowman without engaging, before Massie stops in front of him and says there has never been a shooting at a school where teachers were allowed to carry guns.

“More guns leads to more death,” Bowman responds. “Look at the data. You’re not looking at any data.”

Massie, who in 2021 tweeted a holiday photo with family members holding guns and text asking Santa to “please bring ammo,” then asks Bowman whether he would co-sponsor legislation he introduced last year to repeal a federal ban on guns in school zones. Massie has pointed to data from a controversial gun researcher to argue that such bans are ineffective.

At one point in Wednesday's exchange, Massie can be heard telling Bowman to “calm down.”

“Calm down? Children are dying," Bowman responded. "Nine-year-old children. The solution is not arming teachers."

The argument followed the murder on Tuesday of three children and three adults at Covenant School, an elementary school affiliated with the Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Nashville. Individuals such as Tennessee governor Bill Lee and First Lady Jill Biden called for "prayer(s)" (because of course they did) and within a few days- perhaps even before you are reading this- the pursuit of gun safety legislation will have paused yet again.

However, if there is any chance of forestalling the onset of apathy, it may be with such confrontations as Representative Bowman precipitated. "Cowards," he calls members of Congress who won't address the reason- availability of firearms- innocent individuals are so easily killed in bunches.

He is right, of course, because many of them are cowards, afraid to stand up to varied gun lobbyists. 

Nonetheless, motivations may be complicated or diverse, though conservatives may not like the latter characterization.  You may be familiar with US Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who labeled the 1/6/21 attack on the Capitol a "normal tourist visit," co-sponsored in late February a bill to make an AR- 15 style weapon the National Gun of the United States, and a few days later handed out two months ago lapel pins in the shape of an assault weapon. Lovely.

The congressman also is the owner of the $25 million business known as the Clyde Armory gun store. Maybe he opposes gun safety because he owns the business or owns the business because he supports the right to arm criminals and disturbed people. But it's no coincidence his extremist legislative priorities dovetail neatly with his fulsome financial interests.

And then there are the true believers such as Massie. He tried to block President Trump's coronavirus relief bill, was the sole vote in the entire Congress against extending legislation blocking guns built using 3-D printers, and has tried to dismantle the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. Even the mainstream media wouldn't try to pass this guy off as a "moderate Republican."

Though Massie may have an economic motive in fervently opposing gun-safety legislation, a coward, or even one of those wackos Republicans imply all mass shooters are, he appears to be a far-right true believer. He is best known

for posting a photo to social media that shows his family holding powerful guns, just four days after a teenager killed four students at Oxford High School in Michigan. In that attack, the shooter used a gun his father had bought as an early Christmas gift for his son.

"Merry Christmas!" Massie wrote as he posted his photo, adding, "ps. Santa, please bring ammo."

Cowardly, self-serving, and/or deeply misguided, the GOP will fight to the death (literally in a way) to make sure that murder by gun remains an ever-present danger. The least Democrats can do, as Jamaal Bowman has done, is to call out those Republicans who are committed to this deadly enterprise.

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