Governor Shumlin is kicking off the New Year in an unusual way — scheduling news conferences on three straight days. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 11 a.m.
Good. That’ll give him three more chances to produce a coherent statement on gun control. Ever since the Newtown shootings, he’s tried and failed on multiple occasions.
Let’s look at some of his nonsense, shall we? In no particular order…
The 50-state approach. Shumlin insists that gun violence must be addressed on a nationwide basis, not by individual states. But, as Terri Hallenbeck pointed out, that puts the Governor at odds with himself on a range of issues.
When it comes to health care, this is what Gov. Peter Shumlin says: “If Vermont can get this right, the other states will follow.”
Name just about any other topic – same-sex marriage, shutting down nuclear power plants, penalties for marijuana, clean energy – and Shumlin expresses the same sentiment: Vermont should lead the way.
…This argument seems to transcend all issues except gun control.
Hallenbeck adds that a whole bunch of Democratic Governors are pursuing gun legislation in their own states. I guess Shumlin, as the new head of the Democratic Governors Association, should tell them to back off, because his colleagues are just wasting their time.
After the jump: an anecdote becomes proof, more about “crazy people,” and one man’s definition of leadership: doing nothing.
Gun laws don’t work because of a single incident. As reported in VTDigger:
“State by state won’t work,” said Shumlin, noting Connecticut has stricter gun laws than Vermont and the killings there occurred anyway.
There’s a whole lot of stupid in that small paragraph. First, he’s relying on anecdotal evidence to prove a general thesis. The Newtown shootings proved nothing about the efficacy of Connecticut’s gun laws. It was a single incident, and it could have happened anywhere. And I do hope the Governor isn’t making the NRA’s argument that tough gun-control laws cause gun violence. That’s the most unconvincing weapon in Wayne LaPierre’s arsenal.
The crazy-person fallacy. The Governor recently disgraced himself by saying that we ought to do something to keep weapons out of “the hands of crazy, deranged people.” As discussed previously in this space, that’s not only offensive, it’s completely wrong. Most mass shooters had no previous diagnosis of mental illness. Mentally ill people are far more often the victims of violent crime than they are the perpetrators. So branding “crazy, deranged people” would do little or nothing to prevent future mass killings.
And even if you could somehow identify the “crazy, deranged people,” how do you keep them away from weapons? It certainly wouldn’t have prevented Newtown, because Adam Lanza got the guns from his own mother’s house. So how would you keep guns away from the crazies? Would you bar mentally ill people from living with people who own guns? Would you bar the relatives or friends or roommates or landlords of mentally ill people from owning guns? Good luck with any of that.
Shumlin continued to pound the “crazy people” argument this week, although thankfully he did drop the word “deranged.” I guess he’s still got this mental picture of the human monster killing machine frothing at the mouth and cackling maniacally as he mows down his victims. I hate to break it to you, Shummy, but that’s more of a movie thing than a reality thing.
Leadership by doing… nothing. Shumlin told Seven Days that he has “a heightened sense of urgency to stop this kind of tragedy.” Well, he sure isn’t acting like it. He has called for a 50-state solution, but anyone with a thimbleful of political insight knows that national gun control is going nowhere with the current Republican majority in the U.S. House.
His “heightened sense of urgency” hasn’t resulted in any meaningful ideas. He hasn’t proposed or endorsed a damn thing except for somehow separating “crazy people” from assault weapons, and he hasn’t proposed a realistic idea of how to achieve that impossible goal.
And then there’s this:
“I will defend the rights of sportsmen and -women to own weapons until my dying day,” Shumlin added. “But in all my years of hunting, I’ve never seen an assault weapon in the woods. People don’t use machines of war to shoot whitetail deer.”
Which sounds like a call for an assault weapons ban. But from his other statements, I have to conclude that it’s not. I guess he’s just shaking his finger and saying “tut-tut” at people who feel the need to own assault weapons. But he doesn’t want to prevent them from doing so.
Vermont exceptionalism. Shumlin has also said that “Vermont should be a model for the country” on the use of lethal weapons. By which I assume he means that the country should do nothing, since that’s exactly what he wants Vermont to do.
And if he’s talking, as I suspect he is, of Vermont’s attitudes being a model for the country, then I call bullshit. First of all, you can’t simply export a culture. You can’t take Vermont’s approach to guns and inject the same attitudes into the people of Florida or Texas or Alaska. Or even New Hampshire.
Beyond that, there’s the underlying notion that Vermont is somehow superior to other places, that our way of life is a cut above, that Vermonters are purer in spirit. As someone who’s lived here for six years, I can tell you that Vermont is a different place, but not in any meaningful way a better place. It has its advantages and its disadvantages. One of its disadvantages is that it tends to have an overinflated view of itself.
Vermont has very permissive gun laws, and very low rates of violent crime. But that has more to do with low population and a lack of large urban areas, than it has to do with the virtue of our character or the wisdom of our approach toward guns.
If you ask me, there’s a very simple basis for all this desperate gubernatorial spinning on the gun issue. He doesn’t want anything to be done; but in the wake of Newtown, he can’t say so. Instead, we get this cloud of octopus ink masquerading as leadership.