Often when I debate Republicans, or watch conservative pundits speak on television, I can’t help but feel as if I’ve just walked into some kind of world that defies reality. I’ll see Republicans use something to support their side of an argument, then completely contradict that point with their very next breath.
A great way to experience this phenomenon is by bringing up the debate on universal background checks for gun purchases, followed immediately by the debate on stricter Voter ID laws.
You see, many of those Republicans who claim universal background checks won’t prevent any gun violence (a crime) are the same Republicans who support the need for stricter laws requiring an ID to vote—to prevent fraudulent voting (also a crime).
In one instance they’ll say criminals don’t obey laws, so stricter laws only punish law-abiding citizens (though if you’re not worried about passing a background check, I don’t quite get where requiring one punishes law-abiding citizens). Then they’ll follow that with their push to pass stricter laws on voting, claiming that it will reduce fraudulent voting.
So riddle me this: How does it make sense that criminals won’t obey laws, therefore more laws are not needed, while advocating more laws are needed to prevent criminals from committing a different type of crime?
And let me get this out of the way, voter fraud is not an issue—period. Even the group conservatives charged with the task of finding evidence to support their lie of rampant voter ID fraud, the Republican National Lawyers Association, found no evidence showing that in person voter fraud is even remotely an issue.
I’ll go ahead and debunk a couple of ridiculous talking points right now:
First: “Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country and the highest rate of gun violence.” Yes, it is correct, Chicago has strict gun laws and has had a recent uptick in homicides committed by gun. Just don’t let the fact that Chicago isn’t some distant land isolated from the rest of the country get in the way of your flawed rhetoric. You should also probably ignore the fact that the areas surrounding Chicago have far more lenient gun laws. Oh, and while there’s been a recent spike (which just happened to coincide with the 2010 expiration of the 25 year ban on handguns in Chicago), gun homicides within the city have fallen significantly since the mid-90′s.
Second: “Universal background checks are the first step towards a gun registry.” This is just fear mongering, pure and simple. Existing laws prevent a gun registry, and the measure that didn’t pass yesterday would have actually made punishments for those who improperly use information obtained through background checks even harsher than they are now.
So let me break this down, according to many Republicans
- We don’t need expanded background checks, because it only punishes law-abiding citizens, not criminals
- But we do need stricter Voter ID laws, because that won’t punish law-abiding citizens, just criminals
- Over 10,000 murders by guns per year has nothing to do with guns
- Yet less than 10 credible cases of in person voter fraud in the last decade demands we crack down on fraudulent voting
Now, I’m not saying universal background checks will prevent every crime, nor will they even prevent every criminal from obtaining a gun—but even if it reduced murders where a gun was used by 5% (at a current rate of 10,000 gun homicides every year) over a decade that’s 5,000 people who would still be alive.
And remember, this is just a background check, what would law-abiding citizens have to fear? Expanding background checks would in no way reduce legal gun ownership among Americans who wish to own guns for self defense or sport.
But then again, Voter ID laws have nothing to do with preventing voter fraud. These laws are meant to deter specific groups of people who often don’t vote Republican from voting. But that’s a story for a whole different article.
Either way, to see this contradiction in their thought process (and trust me this is not the only example, it’s just one of many) is laughable.
There’s nothing quite like seeing someone tell you in one breath, “More laws won’t prevent criminals from committing a crime” then following that up with, “We need more laws so we can prevent criminals from committing a crime.”
I just stare at these people sometimes, half listening to what they’re saying–often because I’ve heard it many times before, wondering what life must be like inside of their head. Wondering how someone can’t see such a blatant contradiction—such glaring hypocrisy. To stand there, without hesitation or an ounce of shame, claiming more laws won’t prevent crimes or deter criminals for one issue—while supporting laws they claim will prevent crimes and deter criminals for another.
It’s just baffling people can be that dense, that hypocritical—that clueless.
But then again these are the same “fiscally conservative small government” Republicans who run up giant deficits when they’re in the White House, passed the Patriot Act, want government control over a woman’s body and seek a Constitutional Amendment that defines marriage.
So their hypocrisy, and inability to recognize it, shouldn’t really be all that surprising.