Parents of teenagers are used to over-reactions – if someone doesn’t laugh at their Facebook post, they’re despondent, or a bad hair day leads to “I’m too hideous to go to school today,” or my personal favorite, teens who stare at a completely full refrigerator and moan, “There’s nothing to eat!” This could be a valuable skill in politics – in fact, I used to hypothesize that moms of toddlers could solve even the toughest diplomatic crises (“Israel and Palestinian settlers, if you can’t agree on how to play nicely with the occupied territories, I’ll put you both in time out!”) But these days, I think the additional skills gained by dealing with teenagers could help even more.
Because our political system has become so virulently partisan, even the slightest policy proposal creates shock and horror – both sides are guilty of over-reaction on occasion, but lately the most flagrant example is this week’s Senate vote on background checks for guns. From the way the NRA and many politicians are reacting, you’d think Senators Manchin & Toomey had proposed banning assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, and any ammunition and were considering banning bows & arrows and fishing poles. Strengthening existing background checks and closing a couple of loopholes is a really mild step, and from all the times Wayne LaPierre has ranted about ‘bad guys with guns,’ it’s hard to understand why he is so opposed to making it slightly harder for a bad guy to get a gun. The whole thing smacks of teenage over-reaction – “Today, background checks, tomorrow, they’ll have to pry my gun out of my cold dead body” is logically identical to “if Jason asks Kendra to prom instead of me, I’ll never have a social life and I’ll die alone.”
We already regulate weapons – no one is screaming about the slippery slope caused by the fact that you can’t own a nuclear missile just in case the coyotes out back get feisty. And we already regulate a TON of products and services that haven’t sent us on a never-ending decline into fascism – so far the government isn’t coming after our cars just because they’re registered, and while food vendors do need licenses and health inspections, it hasn’t led to goose-stepping officers shutting down little Susie’s lemonade stand. So get a grip, gun lobby – and to help you stop acting like hysterical teen girls who couldn’t get Justin Bieber tickets, here’s a musical reminder of all the things that have survived being regulated . . .