In the realm of excess hyperbole or excess political support for one special interest or another, sometimes you say something outlandish enough that it just comes off as incredibly goofy and detached, and ends up alienating everyone, including your allies. Such was the case today with Republican Representative Tom McClintock, representing California District 4, a Republican stronghold covering areas east of Sacramento. At a town hall meeting located in a Sacramento suburb, Representative McClintock essentially said that guns are required for all crimes. The folly and weirdness of that statement requires some unpacking.
Allow us to explain the circumstances surrounding Representative McClintock's densely absurd statement. McClintock was at a town hall meeting in El Dorado Hills, east of Sacramento. At one point in the meeting, a constituent asked McClintock about his stance on "Wall Street criminal practices," presumably referring to the actions of banks and the financial sector before, during, and after the Great Recession. McClintock opened his response (about :58 in) by saying, "Well, first of all, for a criminal practice there has to be a gun. It's pretty simple, because you can get someone to do anything with a gun" He then went on, explaining his opposition to financial reforms, using some argument that only individuals should be held responsible for bad financial decisions.
Disregarding the statement in relation to Wall Street reforms, let us look at the phrase, "for a criminal practice there has to be a gun." He is saying that crimes only happen when guns are involved. There are plenty of criminal actions that do not need guns, and many crimes where guns are useless. Come to think, in most every crime where a gun can be used, be it rape or assault or murder or robbery, it is not necessary to carry a gun, so in McClintock's mind is not specifically a crime. Guns are merely an aid in these situations, yet to McClintock, they are the source of crime. Therefore, if I were to mug someone with a knife or a taser, or just my fists, I would not be a criminal, according to McClintock.
Let's take this further. By arguing that guns are required for crime, that would make gun owners suspect if not criminal, especially they were to (gasp!) defend themselves in a dangerous situation. For example, what if the guy robbing the gun owner's house was only using a knife? Using McClintock's logic, if the gun is used, the gun owner could be charged with assault or murder, regardless of self-defense. The absurdity of this statement can go on. Also, by saying that guns are the source of crime, would that not alienate his Republican allies in Congress?
Granted, Representative McClintock attempted to twist this into his favor after saying that by suggesting what he meant was that the forceful nature of these laws are the real issue, and that nobody was being forced to make bad financial decision. An argument that goes in line with Tea Party sentiments, but at least it possibly makes some sense. But that he goes out of his way to state that guns are what makes a crime a crime shows the most absurd understanding of morals that anyone on either side of American politics could imagine.
(Media Sources: Gage Skidmore, ThinkProgress)