Let's Make the Capitol Building Open Carry

It should come as no surprise that Congress dismisses an American public desperate for gun control measures. 

The national legislature has tritely ignored an excessive number of polls showing unambiguous and enthusiastic support amongst practically all peoplegun-owners included, for decent background checks and gun control. As people are murdered almost daily at the hands of gun extremists (and police) in almost every imaginable public venue, Congress insults the dead by remaining inert, refusing to vote on gun control or background check measures. Even as relatives of slain Sandy Hook victims stood crying in the Senate balcony in 2013, the body cruelly voted against strengthened background checks. Those senators voting against the measure have yet to prioritize alternatives. Using flimsy rationales these lawmakers duck questions from press about gun violence and rake in money from the NRA, an organization funded mostly by gun manufacturers. This suggests that they value reelection more than countless lives lost to bullets.

In the wake of recent high-profile mass shooting incidents, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) responded by introducing a bill to placate an outraged public. His legislation seems neatly engineered to appease Americans incensed by recent violence while simultaneously accomplishing little to actually prevent out-of-control gun dispersal. Indeed, the gun-manufacturer-backed NRA backs the measure. According to Politico, people ordered by courts to seek mental health treatment could “still purchase firearms.” Just how Senator Cornyn believes this will make a significant dent in America’s place at the apex of international gun violence statistics escapes logic. The consequences of legislative inertia loom large, and therefore some initially hesitate to lambast this small effort. However, I propose here an alternative scheme to snag Congress’s attention. If Congress remains so attached to an absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment after widespread unspeakable violence…

… Perhaps the open carry zones so popular in Sen. Cornyn’s home state should extend to the Capitol and Congressional office buildings. 

This may seem a strange strategy to gun sense advocates. Senator Cornyn and his colleagues would likely laugh at the outrageousness of such a plan. They would remind us that the Capitol is a beacon for potential extremists, and that it is a national security target. An open carry law would attract loons and the mentally unstable to the Capitol building and impede Congress from working productively (ha!). No, no, they would say. Too valuable the stakes, the potential devastation, they would rail. Yes, the NRA-owned Senators would laugh such a proposal – to turn the United States Capitol into a scene of characteristically American carnage now commonplace – right off the chamber floor. Ironically enough, their concerns would closely echo the chorus of frantic voices in all fifty states. 

These issues have not gained traction in Congress and this inertia claims responsibility for deaths. Political obstinacy has brought the issue into funeral homes across the nation. Congressional silence and inaction regarding the epidemic of gun violence have veered our gun control conversation rightward. Now, in too many states, white supremacists, mentally ill ideologues, and other threats to safety may purchase guns at their leisure. Inaction has acted to create a nation where hardly any person, save perhaps a Senator, can claim safety from a rogue gunman’s bullets. Moviegoers. Churchgoers. Malls. Elementary schools. Sikh temples. University students. Spas. This list, already extensive, excludes those people of color targeted every day by law enforcement agents. Most Americans do not have the capitol police, the secret service, and innumerable bodyguards to protect them from insane, predominantly white male mass shooters. Certainly they do not have the protection of a Congress whose tenderheartedness has been purchased by the National Rifle Association. 

These Senators, so absolutely committed to extensive gun proliferation, should favor such measures. They have not thought fit to vehemently object to unthinkable access to guns in their constituents’ hometowns. What sets apart the Capitol building? The Congressional offices, for that matter? If NRA-owned senators truly believe in practically uninhibited access to guns and gun-positive spaces, they should extend that freedom to grateful constituents knocking on Congress’ literal doorstep, regardless of any potential security concerns. Proper senatorial self-defense lessons could certainly assuage any fears. Indeed, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) believes that a gun-carrying teacher could have prevented the Sandy Hook elementary school atrocity. Sen. Paul should then support mandatory mass-shooting bystander training for all senators. Perhaps then, when someone inevitably – as inevitably as they have in countless public spaces in this country – pulled a gun on the Senate floor, Sen. Paul could put his advice to use.

This solution should not seem so far-fetched. If these senators truly believe in lax or nonexistent gun laws, it should delight them to enact those principles and stand by fellow citizens by enrolling in mass-shooting self-defense courses. In fact, Sen. Paul could host them in his Congressional office. After all, it would only be fair to allow our lawmakers to enjoy some of the gun freedoms they so ardently support every day through inaction. With complete seriousness I submit this idea to the American people. Certainly providing recalcitrant, NRA-owned senators with a taste of their own cruel medicine would go a long way towards forcing them to acknowledge the legitimate pain and outrage of the gunned-down American public.

See this article on Huffington Post