By Aaron Epple
When a Republican Congressman invited Ted Nugent to sit in the visitor’s gallery at President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, there were a lot of “WTF”s from the left. This, in turn, was mocked by the right (including by Nugent himself), yet I wonder if conservatives have asked themselves what they would say if Joe Biden had reserved a seat for Katie Perry.
Of course, part of Obama’s address was devoted to his gun control proposals, a subject Nugent has a mild passion for, and a reporter grabbed him afterward to hear his response. After certain remarks made last year earned him a visit from the Secret Service, Nugent had promised to tone it down while inside the seat of government, and indeed, he reminded us for a moment how articulate he can be when he’s not screaming and hurling playground insults at anyone who disagrees with him. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything he said wasn’t completely and 100 percent wrong.
According to Nugent, the solution to gun violence is “so simple, it’s stupid.” Now, even if you’ve only followed the gun debate sporadically, that should be a red flag right there. The gun control debate is not simple, just as the abortion debate is not simple. If they were, we would’ve found a compromise that everyone can live with a long time ago, instead of still screeching at each other at the tops of our lungs decades after the subject was first introduced into public discourse.
Unfortunately, “(over)simplification” combined with plain reality avoidance has often been a hallmark of Nugent’s pro-gun arguments. Now, after claiming that none of Obama’s gun control proposals would deter crime or save lives, Nugent vaguely holds society at large responsible for failing to flag mass shooters when they first showed signs of snapping.
Well, first of all, improved health-care services is actually one of the items in Obama’s gun control proposal. Secondly, I find it hard to believe that Nugent has forgotten about Seung-Hui Cho, whose 32 victims at Virginia Tech represents the first shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history.
Cho was able to legally purchase firearms despite a court-ordered evaluation that deemed him “mentally ill and in need of hospitalization.” Under federal law, Cho’s name would automatically have been submitted to state and federal databases. Under the laws of Virginia, however, which is curiously also the home of the NRA headquarters, the law preventing “mental defectives” from buying guns applied only to those who had been forcefully committed, not outpatients like Cho.
A strengthened background check, in addition to improved mental-health services such as outlined in Obama’s proposal, would’ve prevented someone like Cho from falling through the cracks, the very items Nugent claims won’t work.
I also wonder where Nancy Lanza, mother of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, fits in with Nugent’s ideas about preventing gun massacres by removing the mentally ill from the streets. Before December 14, Nancy Lanza would’ve been considered a model citizen by Nugent and the NRA crowd, a law-abiding gun owner who did such a good job of schooling her son in the use of weapons that she had no need to lock up the closet.
Yet, according to Nugent, it’s gun-free zones that are the problem. As usual with the Nuge, it represents a severe disconnect with reality, but at least he’s talking like a grown-up for a change.