Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Guns And Apple Pie


Here's my latest newspaper column:

People died in Roseburg, but it’s not about guns; it’s about mental health. Another campus killing, but it’s not about guns; it’s about godlessness. It’s not about guns, because guns don’t kill people, demented atheists do. But we’ll never know, will we, because, yet again, Congressional Republicans have blocked funding for research on gun violence. Because research leads to knowledge, which leads to understanding, which sometimes leads to useful ideas. And knowledge, understanding, and useful ideas are, as Palinophiles and their emissaries in Congress have told us, are elitist. Plus, it’s a little too much like science, which, as we know, is “from the pit of hell.” (That claim is from one of the strangely stupid Congressional Republican physicians. Me, I once understood the Krebs cycle, if only briefly.) 
Since there’s approximately one firearm for every Still-Alive-American out there, and who knows how many rounds of ammunition for each, we must accept that the bag is way too far out of the barn, making control nearly impossible. And, yes, “If guns were outlawed only outlaws would have guns.” But no one’s talking about outlawing all guns, and I’d agree regulations are pointless were it not for the fact that there’s nearly perfect consanguinity among states (not to mention countries) with the least regulation and the most gun violence. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it’s something to consider, isn’t it? Or not. Lou Dobbs says the correlation is with lack of prayer in schools. 
Happily, legislators are on the case, generously offering thoughts and prayers. (Question: is it hard to pray with one hand reaching behind the back for NRA money?) (Another question: what’s the goal of their prayers, assuming they’re actually praying, not just tweeting? The entity to whom they’re supplicating allowed/caused it to happen, so what’s the expectation, beseechmentwise?) 
Maybe the answer really is more guns. If every student were packing, perhaps the latest school shooting wouldn’t have happened, or gone so far. If the price to pay is the occasional gun going off in a classroom accidentally (or because someone taught evolution), what can you do? And if not all of the good guys with guns know how to aim them, hey, this is America. Where civilians spray lead at shoplifters in parking lots. 
Ben Carson, emerging from his saxicoline habitat, is tired of President Obama politicizing the problem, by, you know, addressing it. But Carson is all for solutions. His is to inspire victims to rush the shooter, although when he once had an opportunity, his response was beyond disgusting. Coincidentally, someone actually did attack the gunman in Roseburg, which is also the town where, decades past, RFK braved a hostile crowd, advocating gun regulation two weeks before he was murdered. 
In Kentucky a few days ago, a five-year-old boy, using the rifle he’d been given as a birthday present, killed his two-year-old sister. “It was God’s will. It was her time to go, I guess,” said grandma. “… And I know she’s in good hands with the Lord.” Well, “accidents” happen. With guns, about every day, but what can you do? Freedom isn’t free. Besides, it was his birthday.There’s no point arguing over the contradictory words in the Second Amendment: “well-regulated” vs. “not be infringed:” original-intender Scalia settled the matter two hundred years later. “Well-regulated,” he discovered, was just filler. So here we are, the only “civilized” country where, by a factor of over a thousand, more people die yearly from civilian gun violence than from terrorism. 
Regulations won’t stop all gun violence, maybe not even most. But what if one death they stop is your child’s? Those who oppose even the most middling of regulations are those who, like Ben Carson, believe a Nazi takeover is this far from happening. Ironically, it’s only armed right-wing militias who’ve actually threatened such a thing. Those people notwithstanding, aren’t sensible controls worth a shot? How about we start regulating gun owners the way we regulate motorcycle owners? If not from me, take it from this guy. 
Either way, though, it’ll be fine. The right wing has a new solution: stop mentioning the shooters’ names. Nice work everybody. High five.  

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