I have been watching, listening, feeling the air around the “Republican” response to limitations on guns, magazine size, serious background checks, research by NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) on factors involved in our epidemic of gun violence, and other reasonable steps proposed by the President, and exemplified by the New York State Congress, Senate and Governor. Puzzled by how few Republican leaders are stepping up to the plate and supporting gun reform in the face of the far right gun advocates, I began to think about the psychology that might be going on, instead of politics and political power.
The commonly heard explanation from liberals and the left is that these historically responsible, educated representatives of states around the country are afraid if they in any way counter the NRA, or it’s constituency, or their own constituency when they are not identical, they will lose their next elections, and therefore, they’ll lose their jobs, income, free medical care, and perhaps as important, social status.
But something does not make sense in this explanation. Republican leaders are often family men and women, who care deeply for their children. They want to protect their children. They can’t like absolute “lunatics” or seriously disturbed psychotic people driven by internal voices telling them a room of kids is in the hands of the devil and the right thing to do is to shoot them, getting easy access to weapons and ammunition. They have, at least in the past, had respect for military leaders like retired General Stanley McChrystal and 4-Star General and Secretary of State Colin Powell who are now publicly making a strong case for a ban on military-type weapons in the hands of private citizens, with little or no background check. These congressional leaders are not stupid. They know they won’t be protecting their wives and children by leaving them with military assault weapons. They also know that public shootings are increasingly common: Schools, shopping malls, movie theaters.