Scarborough’s amazing transformation from gun advocate to gun opponent

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former quite conservative Republican congressman himself, has had a rather amazing transformation on the topic of guns.

And yes, we’re going to talk about Joe Scarborough a little today because it’s always interesting, and useful, to keep an eye on conservative opinion leaders who have a change of heart. They’re a window into the soul of our political opponents, and provide useful lessons for where these important issues, such as gun control, are heading, and could be heading, if approached with the right strategy.

Scarborough used to be a supporter of the NRA. Post- Sandy Hook, no more.

He said that he was a “conservative Republican” who had been solidly aligned with the NRA during his time in Congress, and had previously held libertarian views on the Second Amendment. But he added that Friday “changed everything”:

“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. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our schoolyards than putting together their next fundraiser. It’s time for Washington to stop trying to win endless wars overseas when we’re losing the war at home … For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change.”

And I don’t disagree with Scarborough. The older I get, the more disturbed I become when I see the violence on my nephews’ video games.  Do I think video games are responsible for Sandy Hook?  Well, let me put it this way: We are glorifying violence in a culture that already fetishizes violence as a constitutional right.

We are a uniquely violent country, and part of that love affair with violence is our love affair with guns, treating them as though they’re akin to the right to vote, and the’re not.  They’re an inanimate object, they’re not a God-given right.  And they’re not a civil right.  And when you take a culture that is already too violent, that already gets off far too much on violence, that already fetishizes instruments of violence (who do gun nuts need to parade around in camo, and own body armor and weapons that are unnecessary for hunting or for protecting your home?), and then you add in violent video games for kids, sure, it’s possible that those games add to our country’s already messed up love affair with guns and violence.

But the solution isn’t only going after video games and violent movies.  It’s going after the larger triggers, as it were, in our culture that help to sustain, and spread, that culture of violence.  It includes clamping down on guns, and culturally clamping down (through public scorn) on people who peddle the love of guns like pornography.

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Joe Scarborough on gun control

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Joe Scarborough on gun control.

More from Scarborough today. He had GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who’s a teabagging right-wing nut from Kansas, on to talk about the fiscal cliff, and at the end Scarborough asked him about Sandy Hook and gun control. And oh didn’t the NRA-style talking points from Huelskamp just kick into gear.  Scarborough was having none of it. Here’s the video, then a few comments:

Perhaps Scarborough’s best point was asking why it’s okay for Huelskamp to propose limits on video games but it’s not okay for others to propose limits on guns? Huelskamp suggested that Scarborough even mentioning any kind of limits on guns was “politicizing the tragedy,” but Huelskamp had no problem proposing his own political responses to Sandy Hook, proposing limits on video games.

That’s because the NRA and its pretty-boy gun fetishists like Huelskamp have done so well over the years shutting down all debate by goading their opposition with lines like “you’re politicizing the tragedy.” These tragedies should have been addressed fifty years ago when we had our first modern-day mass shooting in America. “Don’t politicize the tragedy” is a cute way of saying STFU until the next mass shooting claims innocents, and so on and so on.

I often complain about how bad traditional progressive groups are at advocacy.  The mass murder of gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School has changed the debate, finally, in this country.  But that change won’t last long, if groups who oppose gun pornographers like the NRA and Huelskamp don’t get a whole lot bolder, and fast.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Yeah, there’s definitely some societal changes that need to happen, to reduce the number of people with simmering resentment over (real or imagined) grievances, mental health issues, etc. Good to work on that stuff, to get a more just, equitable, happier society, but it’ll take a generation, even if the GOP dumbfux aren’t obstructing every step of the way.

    Until Utopia arrives, better see what can be done to lessen the damage. “Prime ingredient” is right.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    I don’t care; I’m glad he “came around.” I’m just saying it’s less “coming around” than it is self-interest. If it helps push the GOP closer toward a rational position on guns, fine, whatever… but I’m not going to hail Scarborough’s “coming around” as anything but self-interested.

  • quax

    Who cares why Scarborough came around, it generates momentum for gun control and puts pressure on the NRA. Yes, it will help the GPO when it’ll moderate on the issue, but if that allows for passing meaningful laws for the good of the country, it’s fine by me.

  • duffer71

    C’mon, John, I have to respectfully disagree. From my early childhood on, I was raised on the bloody violence of Monty Python & the Holy Grail and Robocop, and even went so far to start killing “friendlies” in Choplifter and Marathon for the fun of it, going so far to modify the weapons in Marathon to turn a two-shot rocket launcher into an unlimited-rocket machine of insane destruction — my favorite weapon to use when not using the flamethrower to burn my friends alive. My favorite driving game is the Burnout series which encourages mass, violent destruction on the road. According to your theory, I should be one of the most violent monsters of all time, leaving a trail of dead along the side of the road during my commute. And after all, as friends of mine have pointed out, Canada has access to the same violent games but their incidence of violent murder is nothing compared to ours.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    Yes, his narcissism is off the charts. I truly do think he cares about his party’s success, which is why he’s emphasizing moderation, but only because his party is making him look bad and he HATES that.

  • HolyMoly

    Leave aside the fact that the congressman is trying to blame everything else BUT the guns, and let’s look at what he’s saying. He’s saying that parents have a choice whether to allow their children to play these shooter games, and he thinks we should talk about it, but not pass a single law (because that would be politicizing…I think Scarborough backed him into a rhetorical corner on that one). I translate that his statement as such: “Hey, Americans, you’re on your own in solving the problem of gun violence.”

    And it goes hand-in-hand with many of the gun nuts’ other suggestions: More people should be carrying guns (i.e., you’re on your own); teachers should carry guns….all of this boils down to “the government isn’t going to do a damn thing about it.” And that’s pretty much their stance on EVERYTHING. But how’s that working for us?

    Reduce regulations on food safety, and we get tons of unsafe food out there; deregulate the banking and finance industry, and we’ve seen what a mess THAT’s put us into. Gun regulations are pretty lax as they are, and we’ve had mass shooting after mass shooting. The end result seems to be consistent all around.

    I think there’s more to the problem than just guns, but guns are a prime ingredient.

    Congress needs to get real about this.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Oh Scarborough cares—-about himself. Remember when he organized a multi-million dollar help vets organization? —and then spent 80% of the funds on costs—-4 star hotels, private jets, chauffeurs, high end restaurants and other administrative necessities.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net RyansTake

    Scarborough doesn’t care about guns. He cares about his party winning… and himself. Those are the only two things.

  • allamr18

    If I may add a point of disagreement. There is a big difference in distinguishing the violence people see in movies and in vide games vs interpersonal hand to hand violence. If i may ask who exactly glorifies violent behavior? Who in our society or culture says violence is ok and is acceptable? I read that our culture glorigies it but Im not sure who it is thats doing it. Im a 27 year old officer in the Marine Corps. I grew up in the military my dad was an infantry man who became a minister and detested violence at all costs. I played games like mortal combat watched japanese karate films and anime as a kid practiced karate moves with friends but that was it. There is a stark difference between a first person shooting game simulating shooting a moving character on a screen vs having an M16 pointed at an afghan you think may be implanting IEDs. You know you turn the game off and start over or just stop playing. I just dont see the connectiong. Now i think we have a very much so over hyped view of guns in our culture. The south still feels that an oncoming rebellion is near and their AR 15′S can stop a mortar section of well trained soldiers in a battle which is just ridiculous. But with all that being said I just dont see how we go from video games and movies to putting it to action. Ive killed 1200 characters in Modern Warfare 3. Ive come close to firing on Afghans and the two feelings scenarios thoughts are nowhere close to be the same.

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