Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Gun Nuts

So the Arkansas legislature passed a bill to permit guns in churches.  Of course!  Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!  States are seemingly falling over each other to permit guns to be carried and concealed in every conceivable place: college campuses, bars, at sports events (soccer moms with guns!), government public hearings, K-12 schools, maybe pre-schools next, etc.   Even the Obama administration got in the act by allowing guns into national parks.

Why is this insane?  Let me splain it to you.  If I know that the family in the next tent, or the guy sitting on the next stool at the bar, or the folks next to me in the pew, or folks at a heated public meeting, might be packing firearms, I've got new choices to make.

I may choose to stay home a lot more.  I may choose to be very careful about what I say, in public, and especially to strangers but also anything that might anger anybody.  Like a joke that might be taken the wrong way.  In other words, to be fearful and unnatural, like in a totalitarian society where I have to be afraid of every word or the interpretation of every act.

Or another choice is, that if people around me in church are going to be armed, I'd better take a gun to services as well.  If there's going to be a shootout between the fans wearing red and the fans wearing blue at the Little League field, I better be able to "defend myself."

Of course, some of them might be packing a more powerful gun, with greater firepower.  So I'd better carry an even better gun--a nice lightweight assault-type weapon, semi-automatic, with lots of bullets in the mag.  And I better be ready for trouble.  Can't let anybody get the drop on me.

We learned all this from watching westerns, and the logic of it is unassailable.  It's why getting guns out of ordinary situations was essential to civilized life.

Right now the NRA is fighting like hell to prevent any restrictions on guns, including universal criminal background checks, which they used to favor--way back in 1999.  People wonder why but time to grow up.   The NRA knows that almost everybody is in favor of these checks and a law will get passed, but they want everybody to be arguing about it so nothing else gets passed, like bans on high capacity ammo and assault weapons, which are expensive products with nice profit margins for their funders.  As well as being the fetishistic comfort food of survivalists, the equivalent of pacifiers. Everybody on TV and in the movies has them--why can't I?

Here's the essential point nobody is talking about.  It's anger.  There are lots of angry people out there, and this society breeds anger, justifiable and insane.  For a person with a gun, the damage that results from  blinding anger--momentary or motivating, paranoid or righteous-- depends on how many bullets you can fire, and how fast and how easily you can fire them.  Simple as that.

I'm hearing that gun control experts say that the background checks will actually do more to reduce gun violence than anything else.  But it wouldn't have helped those children and heroic adults in New Town.  At the very least, we must ban high capacity ammunition.  If we don't also ban semi-automatic assault weapons,  and until we ban firearms from public places--I question whether we can ever think of this as a civilized society.        

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