We are undoubtedly a nation with ADHD as evidenced by what has been almost a complete disappearance of any real focus on gun control this past year. A small flurry to give some lip service so that the gun nuts (and those politicians bought by the gun nuts) don’t look like they don’t care at all but really more marching in place. Most of these politicians had more important tasks at hand – like figuring out how to make the poor even poorer or how to bring our country to the edge of economic collapse. But I digress. It is not like we haven’t had the opportunity to have our attention clearly focused if we wanted to. Since the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary a little over a year ago, there has been no dearth of events to remind us of the travesty of an ineffective Congress aligned with an all-powerful gun lobby. Even if we ignore the 35,000 Americans killed by guns in the last year, it is hard to pass by the 30+ incidents of mass murder with a gun. In this year alone, not even a month into the new year, there have been at least 8 incidents in schools with guns – elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges – seems it is pretty much that no level is left out. Of course pro-gun advocates immediately took to the mattresses to push for the elimination of so-called “gun-free zones” intended to keep areas with children and young adults free from guns. More rhetoric from the gun-toting right that more guns is better. This past weekend, the Mall shootings in Maryland again remind us all that none of us are really safe when we leave our houses. And apparently even in our own house many of us manage to have our potential of death by gun rise – as has been recently publicized (but not new news), in houses where there is a gun a person is twice as likely to be murdered and 3 times more likely to commit suicide. At least they keep it at home. And if you are a woman, the likelihood off being murdered is even higher. For you gun nuts who want to call bullshit, even the holy grail of news for people whom don’t want to think for themselves, Fox News, reported on the story – http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/01/21/gun-ownership-tied-to-three-fold-increase-in-suicide-risk/
The answer is not simple in the details given the complexity of the problem. To be perfectly honest, I am not in a place at all where I believe that guns should be outlawed. I understand the important role they have played in our history but that lone isn’t reason to continue to maintain this national stupidity. So if you want to shoot your food, go for it. If you want a gun for protection, OK that is understandable – especially with the number of nuts out there. Yes, there are alot of areas to be addressed beyond just increased gun control laws. However, the solution of more guns doesn’t really seem to make a whole lot of sense. The NRA mantra of more good guys with guns to take on the bad guys with guns just results in more people dead. Pretty simple calculation and logic – more guns means more houses with guns which means more dead people (even just looking at the above stats). We also have little chance of reducing the power and influence of the gun lobby but we can influence while picking out our legislators. Let’s also get off the emotion train that somehow fuels thru rhetoric our inalienable right to have guns. Ok but even if we go with the position that the 2nd amendment guarantees people the right to have guns, there is nothing in the amendment that precludes things like universal background checks or limiting gun magazine size to maybe a reasonable 6 or 7 (at least less than 10) bullets.
So what is so at risk when gun control is discussed. First let me separate out normal gun owners from gun nuts. Interestingly, most gun owners have no problem with Universal Background checks or even many of the changes that have been proposed over the past year. Most of these people might actually be reasonable and rational people – they do have some concern for their loved ones and they don’t see any imminent government takeover looming. So we really need to focus on two areas. The real gun nuts and the industries/individuals that are economically tied to guns. So the NRA, gun makers, gun dealers, Congress – it’s really all about money. Companies aren’t giving up large profits and politicians aren’t giving up deep pockets. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA mouthpiece isn’t going to give up his $1 million salary for the sake of anyone’s safety. To be honest, Wayne is pretty much in the realm of the TV Evangelist – just hawking a different religion but still living the high life on the backs of those without. Our answer here is thru the power of the vote. Our only road is to make sure your legislator – at whatever level – knows you won’t vote for him or her if they continue to ignore this issue.
For the “average” American gun nut, it has to go much deeper on a psychological level. There has to be something missing in these people – most likely a level of self-confidence. I would suggest that most of them are pretty much scared of everything around them. They always see danger lurking in the shadows. They see their weapon as the “great equalizer”. All of a sudden they can go from powerless to powerful. From small and inconsequential to large and impactful. But only really in their minds. In our world today it doesn’t really come down to “who has the biggest gun”. But it makes them feel better even though to most of the rest of us they really look like idiots. If it wasn’t that they were actually dangerous at some point it would almost be laughable. To be honest, I’m not sure what you do with these people. There is no reason or rational place to discuss or reach agreement. When all you see is “the government” coming to take your guns, not much else rings true or really important. I think we need to give them less attention and over time maybe they will start to thin out a bit given the stats we see on guns and murder and suicide. Unfortunately until then, we’ll continue to see incidents like this weekend in Maryland where we don’t really know the beef the shooter had but in feeling powerful and somehow rationalizing a response of murder there are now two families mourning the loss of young ones. We need to fix our politicians and take away the power of the gun lobby as the juice they spew only emboldens the gun nuts and somehow gives merit to their fears. Back to the power of the note and the vote – let them know and then follow it up at the ballot.
Now speaking of gun nuts, here in Pennsylvania we can’t go too far without a small look at one of our illustrious police chiefs who has taken it upon himself to make it clear to the world that his right to free speech and to bear arms is at risk and to prove it he takes an automatic weapon (not his – he likely couldn’t afford it) and goes on a video rant about his issues with the local government, including shooting at targets he names after two local Gilberton board members (who would be part of the decision to fire him). This is one angry Police Chief – only to be outdone by many of the individuals commenting on the various articles about what a great role model he was and there should be more law enforcement leaders like him out there. Interesting amount of bigotry and prejudice-laced talk – but not a surprise given my original direction of how afraid these people are of most everything that doesn’t look, think or talk like they do. In any case, a few pictures are worth a thousand words –
And for those who believe Kessler actually has the ability to do the job, a little fact to remember – he managed to shoot himself in the hand during an off-duty bar visit where he attempted to keep order. One last bit of distressing news – he is also a member of the local school board – bet you those budget meetings are interesting…..definitely the caliber of individual I would want making education decisions for my children.