Congresspersons with Guns: Another Abdication of Basic Decency
First, a minor bit of tactical advice: it doesn't matter how big your gun is, or how many bullets you can stuff in your clip, if the bad guy draws his gun first. (And believe me, bad guys in America don't draw knives.) And in any hypothetical face-off between a Congressperson and a criminal, does anyone realy believe the Congressperson will be able to draw his gun before the criminal (who already had a mind to commit a crime) draws his?
Now here's some more tactical thoughts on the matter: in what situation can a Congressperson need a gun, and not be within reach of either the Capitol Police or the MPD? Seriously, Congressional offices are protected by the Capitol Police (probably with LOTS of help from the Secret Service); and the places where they spend their liesure time are the kind of high-class, revenue-generating venues that are always protected by any big-city police department. Does anyone really expect even a freshman Congressperson to take a temporary residence outside of that confort zone? Trust me, if you're an elected bigwig, the cops WILL look out for you -- as long as they know where you are.
Do the Congresspersons need guns because they plan to go to certain places without the cops' knowledge? If they want to procure drugs, or hire rentboys, they can do all that via the Internet and trusted staffers; they don't need to arm themselves for a quick trip to a dark alley on the wrong side of the Hill. (And if that's what they want to do, why the Hell should we enable such behavior?)
And besides, if a Congressperson finds himself in such a dangerous place, he'll be outgunned, outnumbered, and outflanked by whatever local bad guys he finds there. His gun will be nothing but dead weight. Take it from a local -- the violent criminals here carry Uzis and AK-47s, not those fancy little single-shot revolvers you see in John Wayne movies. And you'll most likely have more than one of them to shoot at, if it comes to that. Ever heard of these things called "gangs?"
So why do Congresspersons need to carry guns? If they feel they're in danger in the places where they work, eat, party and sleep, then the proper response is to spend a little more money to beef up the Capitol and/or DC police forces -- which would benefit ALL of the people in those places, not just those who buy their own guns. Don't they want to make everyone around them safer? Or are so poisoned by the libertarians' "every man, woman and child for himself" mentality that they can't even see fit to spend any money to keep order in the city where they were elected to work?
Here's another factor that could well be driving this latest manifestation of right-wing America's ongoing gun fetish: plain old simple racism. They can't stand working in a city with so many black people in it, and they'll never feel safe here no matter how good the police protection is. Carrying guns, and making lots of noise about it, is just another way of beating their chests and pretending to get tough on those scary dark-skinned savages they've been freaking out about for as long as I can remember.
Some idiot from Texas tried to justify the proposal by saying that crime goes down when "law-abiding citizens" are allowed to carry guns. My response to this is twofold. First, does he actually expect 535 Congresspersons with guns to swagger about on the DC streets and make crime go away? And second, doesn't increased police protection also tend to reduce crime? His failure to consider this basic common-sense option shows an appalling lack of decency, and depraved indifference to the city and people where he's chosen to "work."
And finally, here's another problem with this proposal. Suppose an armed Congressperson actually does shoot a local (alleged) criminal, and claim self-defense to justify it. How will our courts handle such a case? Does anyone really think a sitting Congressperson will be held accountable, with his word weighed equally with that of his accuser? Does anyone really think a DC or Federal court could properly try such a case -- i.e., try a Congressperson for murder or manslaughter -- without enormous political pressure casting doubt on the validity of the whole proceeding? Don't make me laugh. Allowing Congresspersons to carry guns will, in effect, allow them to shoot just about anyone they want in DC with a good expectation of near-absolute impunity. And I have no doubt that that is not a bug, it's a feature: it's what the loony right fantasize about. It's a longstanding and well-known fantasy that comes straight from all those hokey Westerns that form their brain-dead ideal of "real America," where the handsome white man in the white hat singlehandedly defeats all the bad guys and makes everything right without having to answer to any wussy crime-coddling city-slickers or bureaucrats.
And that, folks, is what this proposal is all about: an empty fantasy of violent revenge against unspecified phantoms. That's all the Tea Party freshmen have to offer. The people who complained so bitterly when Barack Obama talked about people hiding behind guns, are now proving him right. Again.