Immunity

03.14.14

Georgia Legislators Think Felons Should Be Able To Shoot You

Next week, Georgia’s legislators will decide if they want a really crazy bill, or one that’s full on Gary Busey.

You may have heard that the Georgia state house and senate—much like their brethren in legislatures throughout the land where representative democracy has become besotted with punch-drunk Tea—has in their wisdom decided to pass a Guns R Us bill. It’s not so much legislation as it is the good sense do everything in their power to expand gun violence  in their state, short of requiring babies to drink milk from a 100-round drum magazine.

Guns in K-12 schools? Check! Eliminating state licenses for gun dealers? But of course! Limit the governor’s powers to regulate guns during a “state emergency?” Can you say UN-led supranational hit squad riding shotgun aboard a black helicopter piloted by President Obama specifically coming to your house to take your handgun?!

It’s all in there folks, and then some. Every bit of paranoia and lack of interest in public health we’ve come to expect from the strange group of gun fondlers at the heart of today’s concealed- and open-carry movements. The belief that it is their “right” to carry a gun anywhere, anytime for any purpose, which leads my friend Elliot Fineman, president & CEO of The National Gun Victims Action Council (full disclosure: I consult for them, and sanity), to often ask in response, “What about my right to safety?” Indeed. 

Yet, the most insidious part of this bill, which has been mostly missed by the media, probably makes this the most extreme gun legislation to have ever been considered in this country. I’m having a hard time typing this it is so ridiculous, but here it goes. Those using a Stand Your Ground defense—you know, for when someone comes along with the especially threatening jumbo bag of Skittles—would no longer have to be in compliance with Georgia’s Criminal Code. That’s right, a felon who has illegally obtained a gun (it is by definition illegal for a felon to have one) can now fire at will at someone playing that newfangled rap music in their car extra loud as long as they “saw” that person reach for something. The fact that they’re committing a crime by even having a gun will not get in the way of the Stand Your Ground defense. 

Genius!

The NRA’s leadership, once they were able to come to from dizzying visions of dollars dancing in their heads, shared that they think this is just the best thing ever. Which should be the only hint you need. This group, according to the annual 990 they file with the IRS as required by their 501(c)(4) tax status, spent more in 2012 on their salaries and other compensation than they did on legislative activities. 

It long ago ceased to be about anything but the money, and there is a lot of green paper in fronting for the right of gun manufacturers to make a killing (no pun, and all that) selling guns to criminals through secondary markets such as gun shows. 

In fact, there is a sick logic to what they do, if you put aside the Frank Underwood morality. You block universal background checks, thereby ensuring that criminals have ready access to firearms. You create ever more powerful weapons for them to use in the crimes they are going to commit. And then when they do, because of you, they get off scot free! Hell, they might have even purchased that Stand Your Ground insurance you peddle for the unlucky murderer for whom “no” is a trigger word. 

There is a sick logic to what they do, if you put aside the Frank Underwood morality.

If you’re a right-wing Georgia legislator—and at this particular moment, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men, is there any other kind?—you’re willing to go along no matter how crazy the bill, because your only motivations are not being primaried from the right, slurping up campaign cash and independent expenditures you had absolutely no idea were coming, and preserving a future in lobbying for killing machines and the like. 

Also, because this is what Jesus would do. 

That is how you get a law like that that has a very real chance of passing during one of the two days the Georgia legislature has left on this legislative calendar: Tuesday, March 18th and Thursday, March 20th. That is when the state representatives and senators must come together to decide if they want only a really crazy bill, or one that’s full on Gary Busey.

In the meantime, I’m reminded of the sage words of NRA Executive Vice President and foaming-mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre. He reminded us during his Wagnerian speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference of what’s out there:

“We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.”

OK, so I’m not sure Wayne isn’t exaggerating just a touch. But when it comes to any and all "rapers" and home invaders and knockout gamers that actually are on our streets—just know that in Georgia if this bill becomes law, it’s Wayne LaPierre, the rest of the leadership of the NRA, right-wing Georgia legislators, and Gov. Nathan Deal that are purposefully arming them, while they’re also providing them legal immunity when they pull the trigger.