America, John F Kennedy said, was like John Winthrop's idealistic "city on a hill." Ronald Reagan added the word "shining" to that description when he plagiarized Kennedy. And now Republicans across the country want to change the word "city" to "armed encampment."
Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives just passed a so-called "Constitutional Carry" law that would allow pretty much anybody over 21 to carry a gun, concealed or not, permitted or not, experienced or not.
Democrats offered an amendment that would've forbidden "domestic terrorists and white supremacists" from the gun-carrying "right," but Republicans voted that down.
The whole "city on the hill" metaphor was meant to evoke a nation that others would want to emulate. Apparently we're now there: Brazilian fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro has proclaimed that he wants every Brazilian to have a gun "just like in America."
After all, his country has nearly caught up with us having the second highest Covid death rate in the world; why not have the second highest gun death rate, too?
The mass shooter in Indianapolis last week had had his shotgun confiscated earlier in the month after his mother reported he was planning to commit "suicide by cop." He simply bought two more guns, this time high-powered assault rifles so he could more easily kill eight people in a few seconds.
And those two weapons he bought weren't cheap: more money flowed into the blood-stained coffers of the NRA and their gun-manufacturing patrons.
As of last Friday, April 16, there have been 147 mass shootings in the US this year, a 73% increase over last year. Psychologists describe it as "a contagion," sort of like Covid. The more people do it, the more people will do it. We've known for decades that this is also how suicide works, which is why schools treat student suicide so differently from every other kind of death.
And, like with Covid, Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure that the contagious agent – in this case, a gun – is widely and freely available to anybody who may want it.
President Biden and the Democrats just proposed legislation that would limit gun magazines to no more than 10 rounds; Republicans are outraged.
After all, if you're going to wage war against your government because it's become "tyrannical" by offering things like free college, Medicare for All, and a wealth tax on billionaires to pay for it all, you're gonna need a hell of a lot more than just 10 rounds.
For most of the 18 years I've been doing my daily radio and TV show, I've been saying that, at the very least, we should regulate guns the same way we do cars. I lay out the details in my book The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment.
The gun should be registered with the state and that registration should renew every year just like a car; the gun owner should be licensed and must demonstrate proficiency and pass a written exam just like a car driver; and there must be an insurance company writing a mandatory liability policy so when someone's hurt or killed with a gun they or their family get the same kind of financial cushion they would have had they been hit by a car.
Now, Stephen Colbert has picked up the banner of "license guns like cars," and it couldn't be a moment too soon. Hopefully more celebrities will get with the program; it's not anywhere near as extensive a form of gun control as rational countries like Australia and most of Europe have undertaken, but it's a start that every American can understand.
Our country was founded on a set of values and ideals; the first to do so in history. Or at least that was the concept, and with every passing century we get closer to realizing those ideals.
It's time to re-capture John F. Kennedy's idealism and actually make America a "city on the hill" we can be proud of and others will once again want to emulate.
We start by ending our epidemic of gun violence and calling out the GOP for what they have chosen to become: a death cult committed to violence, bigotry, and the destruction of our planet.