Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A display of guns for sale is seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York on September 25, 2020. (Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

A display of guns for sale is seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York on September 25, 2020. (Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

The GOP Has Blood on Their Hands

If America is to again be a "shining city on the hill" we must end our gun violence epidemic.

Thom Hartmann

America, John F Kennedy said, was like John Winthrop's idealistic "city on a hill." Ronald Reagan added the word "shining" to that description when he plagiarized Kennedy. And now Republicans across the country want to change the word "city" to "armed encampment."

Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives just passed a so-called "Constitutional Carry" law that would allow pretty much anybody over 21 to carry a gun, concealed or not, permitted or not, experienced or not.

Democrats offered an amendment that would've forbidden "domestic terrorists and white supremacists" from the gun-carrying "right," but Republicans voted that down. 

The whole "city on the hill" metaphor was meant to evoke a nation that others would want to emulate. Apparently we're now there: Brazilian fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro has proclaimed that he wants every Brazilian to have a gun "just like in America."

After all, his country has nearly caught up with us having the second highest Covid death rate in the world; why not have the second highest gun death rate, too?

The mass shooter in Indianapolis last week had had his shotgun confiscated earlier in the month after his mother reported he was planning to commit "suicide by cop." He simply bought two more guns, this time high-powered assault rifles so he could more easily kill eight people in a few seconds.

We start by ending our epidemic of gun violence and calling out the GOP for what they have chosen to become: a death cult committed to violence, bigotry, and the destruction of our planet.

And those two weapons he bought weren't cheap: more money flowed into the blood-stained coffers of the NRA and their gun-manufacturing patrons.

As of last Friday, April 16, there have been 147 mass shootings in the US this year, a 73% increase over last year. Psychologists describe it as "a contagion," sort of like Covid. The more people do it, the more people will do it. We've known for decades that this is also how suicide works, which is why schools treat student suicide so differently from every other kind of death.

And, like with Covid, Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure that the contagious agent—in this case, a gun—is widely and freely available to anybody who may want it.

President Biden and the Democrats just proposed legislation that would limit gun magazines to no more than 10 rounds; Republicans are outraged. 

After all, if you're going to wage war against your government because it's become "tyrannical" by offering things like free college, Medicare for All, and a wealth tax on billionaires to pay for it all, you're gonna need a hell of a lot more than just 10 rounds.

For most of the 18 years I've been doing my daily radio and TV show, I've been saying that, at the very least, we should regulate guns the same way we do cars. I lay out the details in my book The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment.

The gun should be registered with the state and that registration should renew every year just like a car; the gun owner should be licensed and must demonstrate proficiency and pass a written exam just like a car driver; and there must be an insurance company writing a mandatory liability policy so when someone's hurt or killed with a gun they or their family get the same kind of financial cushion they would have had they been hit by a car.

Now, Stephen Colbert has picked up the banner of "license guns like cars," and it couldn't be a moment too soon. Hopefully more celebrities will get with the program; it's not anywhere near as extensive a form of gun control as rational countries like Australia and most of Europe have undertaken, but it's a start that every American can understand.

Our country was founded on a set of values and ideals; the first to do so in history. Or at least that was the concept, and with every passing century we get closer to realizing those ideals.

It's time to re-capture John F. Kennedy's idealism and actually make America a "city on the hill" we can be proud of and others will once again want to emulate. 

We start by ending our epidemic of gun violence and calling out the GOP for what they have chosen to become: a death cult committed to violence, bigotry, and the destruction of our planet.

This post originally appeared at hartmannreport.com, but is published here with permission of the author.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Wyden Warns Millions of Poor Families Could Be 'Denied' Child Tax Credit Unless IRS Acts

Without urgent fixes to a shoddy online application portal, Wyden said, many of "America's most vulnerable communities" will not receive the expanded monthly benefit.

Jake Johnson ·


In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak

"I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe... I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong."

Brett Wilkins ·


Landslides in India Kill 100+ as Monsoon Rains Pummel Nation

"We have been talking about climate change and it is happening," said one of the country's top environmental officials.

Kenny Stancil ·


150 Voting Rights Groups Warn Biden Against Attempting to 'Out-Organize Voter Suppression'

"Every American deserves and should be able to rely on a baseline level of voting access... Only passage of both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can make this aspiration a reality."

Julia Conley ·


'A Day of Shame': Australia Lobbying Thwarts Push to List Great Barrier Reef as Endangered

Greenpeace Australia called Friday's World Heritage Committee vote "a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history."

Jake Johnson ·