I’ve read some stupid shit from Montana Republicans in my life, but Kalispell Representative Matt Regier has just offered the most singularly stupid observation about a political discussion I’ve read in years. And that’s saying something, given that his father Keith once compared pregnant women to cattle in a debate on abortion.
In an editorial to the Missoulian dripping with the kind of smug self-satisfaction that comes when a person has no damn idea what he is talking about, Representative Regier rejected the idea that access to weapons of war was to blame for the number of mass shootings in America. No, the issue, according to Regier, is that we tolerate the LGBTQ community in the United States:
We have to go beyond the surface and critically think. Ask ourselves the question: Have we as a society had a shift in the past 50 years as to what we value and how we think? From ignoring basic human biology to questioning centuries-old structure of marriage, how we as a society think has ramifications.
That is some social science right there, so I thought I would check the data. According to the indispensable Wikipedia, the first four countries that legalized gay marriage were:
- The Netherlands
Surely, given his impeccable reasoning, these countries must be veritable shooting galleries, with hundreds, if not thousands of people dying each month, their nation riven by the gun violence created by “ignoring centuries-old structures of marriage.” Just how brutal is the toll, I wondered.
- In the Netherlands, those pioneers of social engineering have a murder rate 1/5th that of the United States and the rate of gun crime is 23 times higher in the United States.
- What about the bloody fields of Belgium, you ask? Well, their murder rate is less than half that of the United States, with the United States having 5 times the rate of gun violence.
- In Canada, this story from 2015 notes that the entire gun county suffered 172 homicides by gun while the US experienced almost 9,000.
- In 2014, Spain suffered 289 deaths by gun.
There are differences between these countries and the United States, though.
- In the Netherlands, “gun ownership is restricted to law enforcement, hunters, and target shooters (self-defense is not a valid reason to own firearms). A hunting license requires passing a hunters safety course. To own a gun for target shooting, the applicant must have been a member of a shooting club for a year. People with felonies, drug addictions, and mental illnesses may not possess firearms.”
- In Spain, “Firearm regulation…is restrictive, enacted in Real Decreto 137/1993. A firearm license may be obtained from the Guardia Civil after passing a police background check, a physiological and medical test, and a practical and theoretical exam. Shotgun and rifle licenses must be renewed after 5 years, subject to firearm inspection.”
- Canada and Belgium also require extensive background checks and testing for gun ownership.
Now, I’ll admit to being confused why the Missoulian would run a bigoted diatribe that so clearly runs counter to the facts and available evidence, but it’s certainly revealing that a Republican member of the Legislature is so consumed by bigotry against the LGBTQ community that’d blame gay marriage for a problem so clearly linked to a legal framework that, if not responsible for gun violence, certainly partially culpable for it.
It’s the guns, stupid. It’s the guns.