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OPINION

Maybe Republicans Should Try Being Popular

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Republicans don't control the U.S. Senate and they don't have the presidency. Instead of wasting time and energy in doomed efforts to defeat President Obama's Cabinet nominees or sucking up to illegal aliens, why not focus on issues where Republicans can be off-the-charts popular while forcing Democrats into taking stupid positions?

After the slaughters at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., and Newtown, Conn., every sentient person knows we need to do something about institutionalizing the mentally ill and -- at the very least -- keeping guns out of their hands.

That happens to be impossible right now. Involuntary commitments even for the severely psychotic went the way of vagrancy laws. Although federal law technically requires background checks to include records of mental illness, the states and mental health industry refuse to provide that information.

Of course, the vast majority of mentally disturbed individuals are not dangerous. But looking at it from the other end, more than half of all mass murder is committed by the mentally ill. Gun ownership doesn't lead to random murder rampages; mental illness does.

And the good news for Republicans is: Democrats will only pretend to support keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous psychotics, while working frantically to gut and undermine such measures. Liberals fear "stigmatizing" the mentally ill more than they fear another mass murder.

Instead of proposing serious reforms, the Democrats play politics by demonizing responsible gun owners and the Republicans who defend them.

The Democrats' gun proposals are like the joke about the drunk looking for his keys under the lamplight:

"Is that where you dropped them?"

"No, but the light's better here."

Preventing crazy people from buying guns is hard. The ACLU will sue and we'll be tied up in lawsuits for a decade, at which point a Democrat-appointed judge will rule that including records of paranoid delusions in FBI background checks is unconstitutional.

As former federal judge H. Lee Sarokin (a Clinton appointee) might say, "We should revoke their condition, not their gun permits."

The light's better over by the sane, responsible gun owners, who wouldn't hurt a fly -- unless it's a schizophrenic shooting up a shopping mall.

Since the deinstitutionalization movement got under way in the 1970s, the mentally ill remain mentally ill, but now instead of living in warm, safe institutions, they live out on the streets, in homeless shelters and in soup kitchens, or drift back to their helpless families, occasionally showing up in "gun-free zones" to commit mass murder.

After the Virginia Tech shooting, an ABC poll showed that while Americans remained dubious about the effect of more gun control laws, 83 percent supported requiring states to provide information on the mentally ill for gun background checks.

Since then, the mentally deranged have continued committing mass shootings. There is still no way to prevent them from buying guns.

At the risk of joining the Republicans' circular firing squad when we ought to be fighting Democrats, here's how I think Republicans should be looking at things:

-- Pushing amnesty for illegal aliens: 80 percent of Americans ferociously oppose you.

-- Pointlessly opposing Obama's Cabinet nominees: 99 percent of Americans need a constant supply of NoDoz just to listen.

-- Staking out an Amnesty International position on a president's hypothetical ability to use a drone against an "American citizen" (named Anwar al-Awlaki) about to launch a devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil: 70 percent of Americans are against you.

-- Opposing the Democrats' idiotic proposals on gun control: 60-70 percent of Americans support you, but the other 30 to 40 percent will hate you because they want to "Do Something."

-- Proposing the involuntary commitment of dangerous psychotics and implementing measures to prevent them from obtaining guns: 83 percent of Americans support you and will be furious at Democrats for trying to undercut such laws.

Liberals can't help themselves -- they're like Dr. Strangelove with the Nazi salute. The Democratic base will wail, "Who's to say who is crazy? Maybe we're the crazy ones!" and bleat about stigmatizing the mentally ill. Or, to quote Judge Sarokin, again: "[O]ne person's hay fever is another person's ambrosia."

Your choice, Republicans: Take positions that will make you extremely popular, reduce mass murder in America and simultaneously reveal the insanity of the Democratic Party, or keep prattling about topics of interest to no one. Take all the time you need. 2014 is a whole year away.

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