Conservative Republican Joe Scarborough: Every American must know, from this day forward nothing can ever be the same again. We’ve said this before; after Columbine, after Arizona, after Aurora; after so many other numbing hours of murder and massacre. But let this be our true landmark. Let Newtown be the hour after which, in the words of the New Testament, we did all we could do to make all things new. Politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, I have spoken of the heroic teacher Vicki Soto and of the need for people of faith to affirm at minimum that the current state of things is not acceptable, and hopefully to reexamine our national conversation on the subject of guns. I have not offered a prescription on the political issues, though. Some have assumed simply because I said it was time for an honest conversation, or dared to mention that the existence of guns contributed to what happened, that I was knee-jerk pro-gun control. This is not true. I have always been a libertarian at heart. A view has been coalescing in me, and I may articulate it more fully at some point, but this morning libertarian-oriented former Republican Congressman, current TV host and possible future Presidential candidate Joe Scarborough — for whom I have always had great respect — made news when he offered his thoughts, and for the moment, I can’t improve on them.
Though entrenched special interests are going to try to muddy the cause in the coming days, the cause of this sickening mass shooting, like the others, is no longer a mystery to common-sense Americans, and blessedly there are more common-sense Americans than there are special interests even if it doesn’t always seem that way…
Of course this is not all about guns. It’s not all about violent movies. It’s not all about video games. But we can no longer allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good in this case. And we must not excuse total inaction by arguing that no single action can solve the problem.
Please watch Joe Scarborough’s statement from this morning’s show. If you don’t know, Scarborough was part of the Gingrich Army when he was in Congress; he had a perfect rating from the NRA. As he says in his statement, he has always deflected arguments for change by standing on the first and second amendments — free speech and gun rights. He stood his ground after Columbine.
He says many interesting and persuasive things and I strongly encourage you to watch the full 10-minute statement. But this is the quote that is getting the most attention, because this is news:
You know me. I am a conservative Republican that received the NRA’s highest ratings over four terms in Congress. I saw this debate over guns as a powerful symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control. And you know what? In the years after Waco and Ruby Ridge, the symbolism of that debate seemed ever more powerful to me. But the symbols of that ideological struggle — they’ve been shattered by the harvest sown by violent, mind-numbing video games and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitize those who struggle with mental health challenges; and then add in military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines to that equation and tragedy can never be too far behind. You know there’s no easy ideological way forward. If it were only that simple as to blame Hollywood or the NRA or insufficient funding for mental health, then our task would be completed in no time. But I come to you this morning with a heavy heart and no easy answers.
Still, I’ve spent the last few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers, while daring to question my own long-held beliefs on these subjects. I’ve always taken a libertarian’s approach to Hollywood’s First Amendment rights and gun collector’s Second Amendment rights, and I stood by those libertarian beliefs after Columbine, after Aurora, and after Arizona. Those young men who slaughtered innocents were crazy, after all, and they would have found another way to kill their victims if their guns of choice were not available.
But last Friday, a chilling thought crossed my mind as I saw the Times Square ticker from ABC spit out news of yet another tragic shooting. How could I know within seconds of reading that scrolling headline, that the shooter would be an isolated middle class white male who spent his days on his computer playing violent video games? How did I know that it was far more likely that he had a mental condition than a rational motive? And how did I know the end of this story before the real reporting even began? I knew the ending of this story because we’ve all seen it too often.
I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand for my children. Friday changed everything. It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington’s old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. Entertainment moguls don’t have an absolute right to glorify murder while spreading mayhem in young minds across America. And our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-style, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want. It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas…
For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change. It’s time to turn over the tables inside the temple and, for the sake of our children, we must do what’s right. And for the sake of this great nation that we love, let’s pray to God that we do.
Thank you, Joe Scarborough.