Last Monday’s episode of The Daily Show (watch it here), Jon Stewart opened with a long, heartfelt, and sardonically witty segment that showcased the stupidity of some well-known gun-rights advocates. In many ways, that segment perfectly captures the desire for what President Obama has called “common-sense” gun control laws that will prevent horrific tragedies like December’s Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
It’s worth thinking about where Stewart is coming from, and not simply because he hosts a TV show that has supposedly replaced network news as the main source of information and analysis for most of America. Stewart makes a lot of good points, or at least points worth thinking about. In the end, though, he comes up well short of proposing meaningful reforms. In that failure, too, he’s capturing the anti-gun zeitgeist.
In The Daily Show bit, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre was shown namechecking 20-year-old movies such as Natural Born Killers and equally ancient video games such as Mortal Kombat as the proximate cause for the Sandy Hook school shooting. LaPierre even called for a national database of lunatics, though the loud-mouthed hysteric declined the chance to be the first entry.
“Technology has democratized carnage,” said a hoarse Stewart (he was getting over a cold), who was put out by Second Amendment defenders who point out the fact that the amendment is part of the Bill of Rights. Riffing on the flesh-shredding capabilities of current weapons, Stewart said, “When that constitution was written, people had muskets.”