America & Guns: A Toxic Love Story
America & Guns: A Toxic Love Story
I woke up this morning and got on the CNN website. One of the headlines made me incredulous: "Child firing Uzi at Ariz. shooting range accidentally kills instructor, police say"
This unfortunate accident begs the questions, what in God’s name is a nine-year-old doing with an Uzi? And what is wrong with this country and its lust for guns? If the founding fathers could see how much the Second Amendment has been bastardized and exploited, would they have even bothered to repel the British Empire in the first place?
I enjoy hunting, I learned from my grandfather and dad. I own a rifle and several shotguns. I shoot deer, dove, ducks, wild pigs, and hopefully a big elk one of these days. I then have the meat processed for myself and/or enjoy them with friends. This might be distasteful to some, and I understand the argument, "why would anyone want to harm a creature, etc." I don’t have blood lust though. I hunt for sport and sustenance. But that's not what this blog post is about. It’s about something far more indefensible and troubling going on in America that's been for the past 40 some odd years: Americans' ardor for ownership of weapons that should not be possessed by anyone other than a trained professional on a battlefield. It’s about an organization that has so much political power and so little conscience or rational thought, that they are, at least in my eyes, tantamount to being an enemy of the state.
There’s a Lynrd Skynrd song called “Mr. Saturday Night Special” which claims that handguns are for killing another man, they "ain’t no good for nothing" else. I tend to agree with this assertion. To me, having something so small, easily concealable, and readily available to drunk idiots, gang bangers, and meth addicts is beyond a scary proposition. But I have many friends and family members who are responsible human beings and own handguns to feel safe and protected in their house. So, I’m going to leave them alone and pick another battle, machine guns. Someone please tell my why people are able to purchase a semi-automatic machine gun at Dick’s Sporting Goods? Any numbskull dumbass can walk in and purchase a killing device. Of course, there's a three-day waiting period in some cases, or if you decide to go to a gun show, there's just a slap on the back, a wink, and a hand shake. Another recent headline that caused a stir amongst reasonable Americans (who are unfortunately in short supply) was a story about Iowa granting gun permits to blind citizens.
Again, what is wrong with us? Where is the common sense? What could justify a blind person carrying a gun in public?
The aforementioned organization that carries so much political clout is, of course, the NRA (National Rifle Association), which, I’m sure was a fine and decent organization once upon a time with reasonable members that consisted mainly of sportsmen. Now, they are so radical in their stance, claiming that everyone in the US not only deserves to own a gun, but they should also be able to do so as expeditiously as possible, with little to no encumbrances as far as regulation or background checks are concerned. I’m certain if rocket launchers were more affordable and available, the NRA would stand up for our rights as citizens to personally own one.
Of course it all leads back to the almighty dollar. Every gun-maker in the world gives money to the NRA, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to sell as much product as possible, and certainly not to follow rules and regulations that might delay or restrict a sale. It’s such big business that any congressman or senator is too scared to dare suggest restrictive legislation for firearms. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook and the movie theater in Denver (plus a host of others) there were (justifiable) political rumblings to make some changes. But, the big bad NRA just wryly smiled, and poked and prodded a few constituents in the states of some of the “troublemaker” lawmakers, waiting for the outrage to blow over, and then it was back to business as usual. Their power and obtuseness is actually kind of impressive, if it weren't such a problem for our citizens
One of my favorite comedians is Bill Hicks, he died in the '90s of cancer, but his stand-up was brilliant and very topical and satirical. He did a bit about America and guns versus England that I thought summed everything up quite well.
The Second Amendment was written so that the citizens of The United States could resist and fight tyranny. This was the dawn of a new nation, lots of variables were at play. The founding fathers thought that if the citizens were able to arm themselves, then a corrupt despot would think twice before trying to pull any funny business on our soil. They also wrote this amendment when it took roughly five minutes to load one’s musket. I’m certain they didn’t foresee a banana clip on an M-16 ever reaching the doorstep of the Jones’s next door. What happened in between? We took a 250-year-old law, and carried it forward in full. Special interest and organization became so powerful that logic went right out the window.
I was recently having a form of this discussion with a buddy of mine who I like to think of as a thoughtful and rational person. He made a point that gave me pause to think about something I call the apocalypse argument. It was a story about a friend who was living in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. After the disaster, there were gangs of street thugs roaming the street, breaking into homes, thieving, and raping— something the press failed to report on. His buddy's house was approached by a gang, and when the homeowner pointed a machine gun out of the window down at them they (naturally) retreated quite readily. If you’ve ever handled a pump action shotgun that holds five shells, you can attest that this will probably repel any band of threats as well, especially if backed by a pistol or two. And this is the argument that many make for ownership—what if everything collapses and we’re back to the stone ages, or the wild West? It holds about a thimble's worth of water, simply because in preparing for some incredibly unlikely future, we are facilitating the proliferation of sophisticated and deadly firearms, and we don’t care who is able to obtain them. Where is the sanity in that?
At this point the genie is out of the bottle, there are guns everywhere. Ninety-five percent of owners are probably upstanding, law-abiding citizens. I’m not against guns, I wish our lawmakers had the balls to stand up and pass legislation making it difficult, or impossible, for the nut-jobs that make up the other five percent to procure firearms legally on the free market.
Front image from here.