Thursday, June 16, 2016

Common Sense, Common Good

The weariness in the voice and demeanor of President Obama when he first talked about the Orlando gun massacre illustrated what he has often called his biggest disappointment in office, the failure of the federal government to enact the most basic controls over deadly rapid-fire semi-automatic guns, or access to them.

On Wednesday Senate Democrats began an old-fashioned talking filibuster on guns while actual negotiations were going on about a bill that would at least prevent those on terrorist watch lists from buying these guns so easily. For awhile it seemed the dimensions of this massacre finally broke some common sense loose from the political rigidity--the polaritics--of Washington.  Even Donald Trump and the NRA made encouraging noises on this subject, but at least by Wednesday's end, actual effective legislature looked almost as far from reality.  (Although a late report suggests that Republicans will allow some unspecified gun control bills to be voted on.)

But as on so many other problems that more local officials must deal with, states have led on banning assault weapons, especially since Newtown.

While the Orlando massacre has again dramatized divisions on this and other issues, it also has revealed some soul searching on homophobia and on how the media glorifies mass killers (just as this one checked the Internet during the standoff inside the club to see how his mass murders were being covered.)  It also evoked a sense of community beyond just the various geographical, identity and ideological "communities" in response to the victims.  Common sense for the common good may still be on the other side of polaritics, but empathy at least is evoked and alive when specific human beings are the focus.

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