PG120: Gun Policy After Las Vegas & Gerrymandering

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Mike and Jay start this week’s show by discussing the state of gun policy in the United States in the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas. They get into how the United States is different from other rich countries on the issue, whether liberals are being honest in their arguments, the motives of the NRA, what legislative proposals might be effective, if the left really wants to take away people’s guns, and lots more.

After that it’s a look at partisan gerrymandering, an issue that reach the Supreme Court this week. Mike believes that the Court should – and will – overturn the extreme partisan districts in Wisconsin because political scientists have developed a reasonable standard for determining whether or not a legislative district is unconstitutionally partisan. Jay disagrees, and believes that the Court will ultimately let Wisconsin’s redistricting stand.

Mike’s Recommend Reading & Listening
Budget Reconciliation Explained
Vox’s The Weeds on Budget Reconciliation

Jay’s Recommended Reading
Conscience of a Conservative. Senator Jeff Flake

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2 thoughts on “PG120: Gun Policy After Las Vegas & Gerrymandering”

  1. Jay said some very revealing things in this episode, though I suspect not for the reasons he intended.

    He lamented that as he lives in a largely democratic area his vote ‘didn’t count’, which is one of those curious comments that has a kind of superficial emotional logic, but that actually reveals something far more dispiriting under the surface.

    Because, firstly, as an assertion, it is patently wrong. Every vote counts (as I think you tried to respond, Mike), it’s just that to Jay, apparently, he doesn’t believe a vote ‘counts’ unless it is on the winning side.

    And secondly, sadly, that belief encapsulates the cynicism and apathy that paralyses debate, and that conveniently stalls any change to policy not dictated by the ‘winning’ side.

    As this episode exhibited: the gun debate is clearly one that will never be resolved, because there is simply no impetus on the part of conservatives like Jay to even have a discussion, let alone actual change. Instead of exploring in good faith potential remedies or proposals to this endless bloodshed, the conservative playbook appears to be listless equivocation. Firstly it’s ‘Hey, don’t exploit a tragedy, this isn;t the time or place’. Then it’s that there’s no magic wand that will fix everything in one go, and slippery slopes are scary, so its better to just ignore the issue entirely and kick the can further down the road where, again, nothing will ever be done. Because what CAN you do, right?

    But, as you tried to assert Mike, these arguments – as regurgitated by the NRA – are complete fallacies, stoking paranoid emotion at the expense of reason. They literally trade on fear-mongering conjecture at the expense of actual lives and safety.

    Jay discussed ‘freedom’ as one of those sacrosanct ideals to which all manner of concessions must be made in its protection. One should not enact laws on the restriction of gun sales to people who have mental issues because it might, perhaps, somehow impact a guy in future who has been misdiagnosed. Possibly. And the private sale of guns at gun shows shouldn’t be regulated because… well, actually, I didn’t follow the argument there at all. Something about how it wouldn’t change anything because there’s no evidence that any privately sold guns have ever killed anyone – even though there is evidence of that, everywhere, if you just have the inclination to look for even a second.

    (Also, it is curious how this plea for restraint and inaction arises whenever gun legislation or efforts to enact any kind of environmental protection policies are mentioned, but when overhauling the entire tax system with broad deregulations and tax cuts for the wealthiest among us come up, the attitude is let’s just roll the dice! Who cares that all available modelling suggests that it will be a catastrophic nightmare? Corporations and the highest income bracket need more freedom!)

    I am happy to say that I live in Australia, a country that (despite having many other problems) tired of living in fear and that enacted actual change on gun legislation. I am not saying that such measures for everyone, but after seeing too many acts of senseless gun-related slaughter, our government listened to its people, showed actual leadership, and enacted change that has prevented such carnage from occurring again.

    And no, for all of their hyperbole, people like Ted Cruz who claim that our country has somehow been robbed of its ‘freedoms’ or ushered in a new lawless hellscape, are either willfully misinformed or disingenuous liars.

    I love America. I spend a good deal of time in the States and have a lot of family there, but I can honestly say that I am glad my children live here in Australia, where they have the freedom to go to school and live their lives without the perpetual fear of being gunned down by someone who exploited the misconception that ‘liberty’ and contempt for public safety are the same thing.

    1. I think Jay’s comment about his vote not counting was intended more as an attempt to make an argument against the ‘how much gerrymandering is too much’ formula before the Supreme Court, rather than a statement of what he actually believes. As for your points on firearms, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I agree with you almost entirely. The gun culture of the United States is something I understand, but also something that causes me great frustration and sadness. Millions of Americans have decided that our expansive firearm freedoms are worth around 33,000 deaths per year. I vehemently disagree, but until my view becomes a view of a majority of Americans who are actually willing to work to change gun laws – my view won’t carry the day. – Mike

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