Hear It Now: Silence is Deadly 

Back in the spring, as we followed the peregrinations of the Tennessee General Assembly on its way to adjournment, we tried our damnedest to be optimistic that the 99 House members and 33 state senators would eschew the kind of tomfoolery that, over the years, has made the state legislature grist for grim humor — not just nationally, but around the world.

Remember the Great Debate of some years past regarding the legality of eating roadkill? Or the alarms raised by some heroic Paul Reveres in the legislature just a couple of seasons ago that a new mop sink in the Capitol was actually being constructed as a foot-bath for Islamic followers of strict Sharia law?

click to enlarge GREG CRAVENS
  • Greg Cravens

And the bill to take away state aid from parents of failing schoolchildren, the "Don't Say Gay" bill, the bathroom bill aimed at transgenders, the attempt to make the Bible the official state book, the actual passage of a bill proclaiming an official state rifle?

For the most part the "crazy" bills (the adjective derives from a head-scratching comment on things by a perplexed Governor Bill Haslam) were shelved or delayed in the last session, and we expressed our gratitude.

But a few lulus did get through — most of them, like the aforesaid official-rifle bill, expressing the wishes of the all-powerful gun lobby. And, given the horrific event that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday night, the painstakingly prepared massacre of music festival attendees by a gun nut from the shattered windows of his lofty hotel suite (resulting in 59 deaths as of press time, and hundreds of wounded), we are inescapably reminded of another bill approved by our state's legislators this past spring.

This was the "Tennessee Hearing Prevention Act" — necessary, said its successful sponsors, to shield the ears of gun-users from the sound of discharged weaponry. What the bill did, in real-world terms, was to remove penalties for across-the-counter sale of silencers.

And it passed.

And the reason it comes to mind is that a bill providing the same result is due in the next week or two to be heard by Congress — that's the Congress of the U.S.A., mind you. Keep in mind that the only way in which concert-goers in Vegas were alerted to the unfolding tragedy and later enabled to take steps to save themselves was by hearing the rapid fire of the assaulting madman's automatic rifle and timing their escape efforts for the intervals in which his damning rat-a-tat briefly ceased.

It will be said in Washington, as it was in Nashville, that the legislation (which will be backed to the hilt by an unregenerate NRA) is necessary to protect the hearing of hunters or of innocent, Second Amendment-obeying sportsmen or whomever.

Hear it now: This was, and is, Shinola, a part of the ongoing disgrace that is the continuing domination of public life in this state and in this country by the firearms merchants.

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