Lady Gaga is no stranger to controversy. It was unclear how she could top wearing a dress made almost entirely out of raw meat – until she donned a bra featuring plastic machine pistols less than a month after 26 people, including 20 children, lost their lives in a shooting rampage at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
While the initial shock has died down, the gun controversy is far from over.
Gun rights advocates have insisted with fiery rhetoric that guns are the only thing standing between active shooters and children. Meanwhile, the White House and multiple governors are proposing strict regulations on gun ownership, up to and including bans of the most dangerous types of weapons and heavy restrictions on who can buy a gun. Both sides have been marred by occasional lunacy in the ensuing debate, something that can only be expected as the nation tries to figure out its response to such unimaginable horror.
Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo drew the most attention by proposing a complete assault weapons ban, including a mandate that all gun permits be subject to periodic review and recertification. Now Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is set to go one step further. O'Malley seeks to ban assault weapons in the state, restrict visitors to schools, keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and undoubtedly most controversially, require gun owners to provide their fingerprints to the state police, complete a weapons safety and training course, and undergo a background check to procure a license.
"I think we have too many guns, and I think we have too much killing," said O’Malley in the days after the shooting.
In light of all this, Gaga's decision to don a gun-toting brassiere – undoubtedly with full awareness of its disturbing implications – is tasteless and inappropriate. It rubs salt in the wounds of pro- and anti-gun advocates, and much trashier, the wounds of a despondent and horrified community that just lost 20 of its children. Generating controversy from a dress made of steaks is one thing. Generating controversy from the wholesale slaughter of children and teachers is quite another.