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It’s a radical idea, the holding of Remington Arms responsible for its advertising of an AR-15-style military weapon as a symbol of manhood, which, plaintiffs successfully argued, influenced a wacko to murder those twenty first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2014. The wacko may have fantasized this himself, but for the company (“Consider your man card reissued”) to go down that road was beyond the pale. So the company’s insurers will come up with 73 million bucks and perhaps this will give other insurers qualms about offering liability coverage to gun companies. This may work better than trying to pass gun control laws.

My home state of Minnesota, the Land of Reticent Lutherans and Dairy Queen Blizzards, is seeing violent crime like never before, women pulling into a supermarket parking lot and scoping it out for the sight of children with pistols angling to carjack them. This is now a feature of daily life. Too many guns.

Minneapolis is a city of lakes and a Minneapolitan has a right to walk along the shore and observe birdlife and not be studying every bush and tree for signs of armed interlopers. Civil order is crucial for the good urban life and Democrats have too long regarded crime as a Republican issue, that it’s a complicated socio-economic-cultural dilemma that needs further study by task forces, but nuts to that: when you pull a gun, you know you’ve crossed a line, and ever since Republicans elected a crook to the White House and supported the violent attack on the Capitol, their record on rectitude is no longer believable, so it’s time for Democrats to man up and deal with reality.

Kids are growing up in a world of security cameras and armed guards and scanning devices and anti-tank concrete barriers. At Benson School, in 1948, we walked in without being frisked for weapons and this sense of security stays with a person: thanks to Benson School, I feel quite safe walking up Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday morning. I don’t imagine violence as I walk into church, I think about my Brethren aunts gone to glory and ask their forgiveness for my Anglican heresy.

I just want our kids and grandkids to have the good things we enjoyed:

  • The freedom to roam and explore the world, cautiously at first and then with confidence, independently;
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  • An aunt or great-uncle who will tell you all that is known about your family’s history in the world going back generations; 
  • Some exposure, perhaps accidental, secret, shocking, to great art or scientific ingenuity or natural creation, something that inspires wonder.

After the Party of No takes power and McCarthy becomes House Speaker next January and McConnell is Majority Leader, the federal government will become inert matter and whatever we do for our children will happen in states and municipalities. It’ll happen because people will turn out and vote in local elections. Currently, anywhere from 15 to 25% of eligible voters do (9% in Las Vegas, 28% in Duluth), and when 50 or 60 or 70% do, you’ll see a fresh batch of candidates, and they’ll make a big impact on schools, parks, public safety, public transportation, things that matter in daily life.

While M&M lock Congress into a five-hour workweek, real change will take place at the grass roots. The crook may well be elected to a second term in 2024 even if he’s ensconced in the federal prison at Danbury, and he’ll pardon himself and his family and the January insurrectionists, and tax cuts will be dealt to the oligarchs, the mentally ill will be put in prisons, health care will be afforded to those who can afford it, small children will go to work in factories, but thanks to states’ rights, progressives will be able to create outposts along the coasts where the streets are safe and schools are happy places and maybe we’ll go the extra mile and provide that, as happened for me in 1966, kids graduate from a state college with no debt, free to fly high for a few years until they sink under a mortgage and go to work in a cubicle.

Thanks to unindebtedness, I imagined becoming a writer. I still imagine it. Otherwise I would’ve become an unhappy post office clerk, barking at the patrons. You were spared my misery. Writing this column made me happy, thinking of the angry rebuttals it’ll inspire. Anger is healthy. Just don’t shoot me.

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