Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bang.

Oh, well, shoot (as they say). I don't know.

We've got a problem with guns. We don't agree what it is, but no matter who you are, you have to admit we do a lot of shooting in this country. We blast away. Most of us don't, but this is one of those areas where one person can have an outsized effect. And the fact is, other nations do not experience the violence that we do routinely here in the U. S. of A. You know, unless they're in a war. So there's something going on. Can't keep pretending there isn't.

Does that mean that we're likely to be shot? Naw. If you got in line with the next 25,000 people you see, one of you might get plugged. You're way more likely to drop dead of heart failure, but no one's aiming bacon at you. At least not often enough.

There's talk about background checks but a lot of that is another slam on mentally ill people. It's not just mentally ill people. All kinds of people are ready to put some hurt on random strangers. I suppose if we were somehow able to examine everyone who bought a gun we might be able to sieve out a potential nut job once in a while.

So we have a situation in which reasonable people, people I know and love, people who will never perpetrate a crime, who merely want the ability to defend their house and home in the way they feel comfortable with, and maybe pop a deer every now and then, are so horrified by the utterly unreasonable prospect that someone is going to try to take away their guns, their protection, that they have drawn a line: and the line is somewhere past All weapons, Always. They might not need a military-style assault weapon capable of mowing down a crowd of people, personally, but they will defend to the death someone else's right to have it. Preferably someone else's death.

It's that slippery grassy knoll argument, I guess.

But where, I'd like to know, should that line really be? Anti-aircraft missiles? Nukes? Where, on the continuum that began with muskets in the Revolutionary War, do we draw the line?

I'd draw one line right through the National Rifle Association, if I could. The NRA positions itself as the friend and stalwart champion of Joe America, but gun safety classes notwithstanding, I can't see that this propaganda pump is truly dedicated to anything other than enriching arms manufacturers, and they're wildly successful, too. As long as they continue to persuade people someone's coming after their guns, sales will continue to spike. As they do after each mass murder. You'd think we'd already achieved full gun saturation (and all the safety it brings us), but you'd be wrong. Evidently there's no number of guns that is too many.

I'll admit it. I would feel safer in a country that didn't fetishize guns. But am I coming after anyone's guns? Hell no. Them folks is armed.

This blog post was written, but not published, in December 2015. I never had any doubt an appropriate time would arrive.

40 comments:

  1. OMG... your last line made me laugh... in a darkly sardonic way.

    If a person is buying rifles to hunt deer for food, or maybe a gun to protect his home, I can see that. But when a person buys a whole arsenal of guns, or even one assault rifle... I think you can automatically say that he's mentally unstable. But maybe I'm just profiling here. One doesn't need all that weaponry to hunt deer. They're not cunning and they don't have ways of fighting back. One regular rifle should do it. And you don't need a bunch of guns to defend your home. Again, one should do it. Plus, get an alarm, for crissakes.

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    1. I pulled the plug on my alarm. It was too alarming. Now I'm trying to remember to lock my door at night. My sister, in Maine, didn't even HAVE a locking door. It was tight and it sort of wedged shut, and that's how she left it, even when she went on vacation.

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  2. Most countries have little oddities of behaviour or tradition that folks in other countries don't understand. I'm thinking of examples like bog snorkelling or rolling a big cheese down a hill. That stuff you have going on over there is in another calibre altogether. Several other calibres, if the news feeds are to be believed. Maybe the USA could start small and work its way up to gun control? Go on, try rolling a Big Cheese down a hill, instead.

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    1. Oh sugar, do you have any idea how happy a clause like "bog snorkeling or rolling a big cheese down a hill" makes me?

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  3. I'm rather sad the appropriate time to publish this did arrive. Perhaps in a few years (or sooner) things might swing the other way, people might come to see that blasting away at whatever scares/angers you isn't such a good thing.

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    1. There have actually been many opportunities to publish this. I don't like to put in Serious Pieces too often and have never before done two in a row, but times are slimy. Tell the world to settle down for a moment and we'll get back to our usual crap on Saturday!

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  4. The NRA has been extraordinarily effective in crippling the funding for gun violence research. RESEARCH. Figuring out why, who, how, when, so that policy can be developed that addresses the causes. The NRA has persuaded a lot of people, elected ones and the public, that the risk of gun control is too great to even study the causes of mass shootings. That's some power they have there. It's really quite an achievement, and it benefits a very few people immensely well. Research that potentially benefits the public, now, that's a non-starter. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-02/quietly-congress-extends-ban-cdc-research-gun-violence

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  5. We are an exceptional nation. Exceptionally good at killing each other at a rate that other countries can only marvel at. We'll keep on doing it until we are great again. Or some such shit.

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    1. When I run for President, my slogan will be "Make America piddling middle-of-the-road."

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  6. I keep thinking that a big part of the issue is that gun ownership is so normalized for so many people that they can't even see the problems it causes, that the use of those guns is so much a part of their family history and concept of their "self" that they can't imagine functioning without access to and use of guns. And that allows the NRA to do what they are doing. A gun culture can't fix itself, because it can't even see the problem clearly. (I am not talking about all Americans, but about the subset who own guns for any reason other than hunting to feed their families.) And hasn't it already been explained, over and over AND OVER, that the first amendment doesn't say quite what they think it does??

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    1. second amendment, dang it . . . I'm a Canadian, these things don't just roll off my tongue . . .

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    2. We edited that for you in our heads. Yes, it's remarkable what gets ingrained as "heritage." We live such short lives, and yet tend to think of the status quo as something that has always been. (This affects the climate change attitudes as well.)

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  7. "This blog post was written, but not published, in December 2015. I never had any doubt an appropriate time would arrive." If killing 20 primary age school children and 6 teachers didn't prompt some change... I am not thinking that anything will... This is part of that overwhelming sadness I feel now...

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    1. Whenever I feel that sad, I remember that not that long ago, there was dog poop and cigarette smoke absolutely everywhere, and I never thought that could change so fast.

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  8. I read, around the traps, that "If Australia did it, America can do it."
    I am, of course referring to the great buy-back of fire-arms after the massacre at Port Arthur.1996.
    None needs the firepower of an AK 47. Not even one AK 47.

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    1. I do think of Australians as being at least as obstreperous as Americans, so you never know.

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    2. We still have gun crimes, as the press like to call them,but legal ownership is, I'd venture, more tightly controlled.And I couldn't walk into a gun shop and buy the kind of weaponry that's on offer in USA.Hell! I need a permit for a BB gun.

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  9. This whole mess just breaks my heart, and I can't offer any solution. I remember before the NRA became so radical & political -- we participated in the "Hunter Safety Course", which was sort of "Driver's Ed." for 'gun operators'. Not only did I come out of that course with the knowledge of how to handle, shoot, disassemble, and clean guns -- BUT also with a strong sense that 'guns aren't to be used on humans' (unless in the military or law enforcement). Part of the 'Safety' teaching had an element of a civics lesson -- that here is how a civilized society does and does not act with guns. I guess that my comments here about the old days are just another facet of the sadness I feel about the mess we are in.

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    1. I believe there has been a deliberate effort over the years to gin up fear in the worst people, just to have a reliable voting bloc. Also, and related, someone stands to make a heap of money.

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  10. No one NEEDS automatic weapons!!

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  11. seems to me things would get better quickly if someone (anyone) could pull the plug on the NRA and let them whirlpool away down the drain.

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    1. They are well-funded. It's hard to flush all the money.

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  12. Fear sells guns. All hail the almighty dollar.

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  13. We'll never get rid of the 300,000,000+ guns Americans are currently toting, but we could put some controls on ammunition via licensing and tax regulation. Make 22's and shot gun shells, etc real easy to buy and require those who want military style weapon rounds to obtain a renewable license and pay a very substantial tax.

    Guess that'll have to wait until after some future election cycle when voter turnout improves.

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    1. Yeah, and that'll have to wait until we solve the gerrymandering and voter suppression and Citizens United debacles.

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  14. There's a terrific, on-target piece by Joe Blundo, a local columnist for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Highly recommended:
    http://dispatch.com/entertainmentlife/20171005/joe-blundo-lawmakers-overdue-for-response-to-mass-attacks

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  15. AND you notice the sly reference to "on target."

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  16. It's all said above, Murr. As a certifiable gun-toten' liberal of plus 70's years I got nothing. I hear all the stuff from geezers my age...."...when I was in high school every pickup in the parking lot had a rifle." etc
    Don't mean diddly squat. These ain't those times, it ain't '64 now.
    I'd happily give up my guns, not a second thought. I'd also contribute to the effort to repeal the sacred 2nd. Not much else will do. Otherwise, long after I'm gone, these discussions will be going on, after the latest mass killing. As a vet, a tax paying citizen for decades, can I just say that this country sucks.
    Mike

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    1. I believe you can still say that, but it wouldn't surprise me if it turns out to be illegal soon enough.

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  17. If someone offers unprovoked violence, i want to be able to defend myself. I would much rather have the police defend me, but they can not be everywhere at all times. I have been held up at gunpoint. i gave him the money and would have done so had i been armed. but if he offered to hurt me, I would have had nothing but my soft pink hands to defend myself.

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    1. But you probably wouldn't have an assault rifle.

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  18. I'm British. Most of us don't own guns and have a hard time understanding why so many Americans do. Over here there are far fewer shootings, per head, than over there. It does seem to me possible that these two things are linked – but I can see that there isn't going to be a quick, simple and universally popular answer to the problem.

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    1. I'm trying to imagine anything that would be universally popular in this obstreperous land. Even ice cream has its detractors.

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