WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GUNS

Well, predictably enough, it happened again. Some dude with a gun killed 12 people and horribly injured a few score more, with – wait for it – legally acquired firearms! Surprise! I mean, it makes so much sense to let every madman in America run around in public with armament capable of ripping out 60 rounds in less than a minute. Sure, why not! And then, if the N.R.A. has its way, EVERYBODY would carry around one of these murderous contraptions, thereby forcing everyone into a kind of creepy detente of mutually assured destruction, at least until somebody either loses his temper or gives in to a passing impulse.

What, you say? This is America! NOBODY loses their temper or acts impulsively here. We are a civilized nation!

NOT.

We live in a country where impulse is virtually the religion people live by. Not to mention the fact that everyone thinks they have the corner on the real truth, and everybody else is WRONG. That’s what you get when you live in a hierarchical, authoritarian sort of environment. I would say the model citizen for this mindset is Anders Behring Breivik, who, despite all evidence obvious to normal people, thinks he was absolutely, incontrovertibly right to shoot down 69 teenagers at a summer camp in Norway. Doubtless, in the fullness of time, this Holmes character will join Breivik’s special club of self-righteous destructiveness, or else be declared as crazy as a locoweed-eating sheep.

So let’s see – this Aurora thing…  Gabrielle Giffords… Fort Hood … Virginia Tech … the Wong thing in Binghamton, N.Y. …  the nursing home in North Carolina … the nasty multiple murder of a whole family in Santa Clara … Columbine … Michael McLendon flips his lid in Alabama and kills 10 people … Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, aka Santa, kills a bunch of folks in Covina … Isaac Zamora, right here in Washington state, offs 6 people … the messy Northern Illinois University incident …

Well, there are plenty more, but my typing fingers are tiring out.

And, even as this slaughter goes on, the N.R.A. and its minions continues to muddy the waters regarding the issue of meaningful gun control. For example: gun proponents keep telling me that “the laws we have are sufficient to protect the public if they are enforced.” But here’s my opinion on that: BULLPUCKY. Obviously, there are not enough laws – enforced or not – to keep crazy people away from firearms. Ditto the stupid people, or, more plainly, people who are such idiots they endanger themselves and others by their complete lack of common sense. Like, the guy in Couer d’Alene who was cleaning his “unloaded” pistol – too-stupid-to-own-a-gun error number 1 – has it go off, the bullet goes through the apartment wall, hits a girl sleeping in her bed, and she’s permanently paralyzed. Or, the loon who shot Giffords, or the loon who shot up Fort Hood, or any of the rest of the whackadoodles who have guns and know how to shoot off their own toes, get that cool firearm stuffed in the pants to blast a hole in their nethers, or to conduct a mass murder inside a movie theater.

Next thing N.R.A. gun lovers like to say is “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Right. And people with guns kill a lot more people much faster that people with Leathermans, flashlights, butter knives, boulders, bricks, nunchuks, Samurai swords or killer pit bulls. Come on. That is a very transparently silly thing to rest a case on, “guns don’t kill people”. Gawd.

And here’s another thing the N.R.A. does BIG TIME. It meddles in other peoples’ business. Like, in Washington D.C., they pumped so much money into defeating the local assault weapons ban that they turned the tables, and now D.C. inhabitants are free to huddle under beds and install steel plates in their walls to defend against the impulsively stupid and assertively crazy  assault weapons lovers there. And they are even internationally attempting to make more weapons available to potentially flawed individuals: “In New York this week, the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty continued trying to draft a treaty to impose worldwide controls on small arms, including civilian-owned firearms.The NRA has made clear its opposition to any treaty that includes civilian firearms.” Great. There are not enough people on the planet terrified by gun-wielding thugs as it is. The N.R.A. wants to be 100 percent sure that every lunatic ON EARTH has access to high-powered weapons, not just local American-grown lunatics, especially in places where rule-of-law is haphazard at best. So you can pretty much shoot anybody you want, in order to steal their supply of potatoes or seed corn or whatever, and never get caught. Way to go, N.R.A.

Here’s the sensible thing to do – make people PROVE their competence to own firearms, and DON’T let them have one until they do! The way it is now, basically you can buy bread, milk, AK-47’s, Popsicles and extra-large ammo clips all on the same day, and sometimes in the same store, which seems ass-backwards if you actually would like to preserve a civil society. You will never have a 100 percent leak-proof net, but at least it would be SOMETHING.

This is what I have noticed about people who are ardently anti-gun control:

1. They are scared shitless of what MIGHT happen, despite the fact that their imaginary scenarios have never happened to them or anybody they know.

2. They all think that by packing heat, they are going to drill whoever is shooting up the theater or going ballistic with a firearm at the local mental-health treatment center. Let’s all think back to the shooting in Idaho where the guy heard it from a couple blocks out, whipped out his pistol, ran like a fiend to get in on the action, and was dropped like a wild turkey before he could get off a round. Aside from the fact that this was yet another guy too dumb to own a weapon, it illustrates the point that not just anyone is able to use a firearm effectively, especially when your biology is telling you to GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE NOW. It takes a lot of training, training to the point of muscle memory, to shoot somebody. And there is, for most of us – excluding sociopathic CEO’s of large corporations – a powerful barrier to harming another of our species. A lot of people can’t overcome that at the critical moment. It’s one thing to wave your loaded pink pistol in a reporter’s face, like Arizona state Sen. Lori Klein (R) did (another example of too-dumb-to-carry), but quite another order of magnitude to actually blow somebody away.  Colorado is one of the gun-friendliest states in the U.S., yet not a single person “returned fire”. Which is lucky, probably, as an untrained civilian in a chaotic situation firing a relatively unfamiliar weapon could easily have done as much damage as the original perpetrator. Plus, Holmes was encased in full body armor, so it would not have helped anyway. I guess to be effective enough for the N.R.A., we will all need to wear our full body armor to the movies now, just in case we have to shoot back, instead of taking the more expedient path of not selling weapons to crazy people.

3. Every anti-gun-control person I have ever debated was stuck on the “must not be infringed” part while ignoring the “well-armed militia” part of the 2nd Amendment. You can’t make one guy buying assault weapons through Amazon into part of a militia. He just … isn’t. Well-armed militias are one thing; a bunch of lone-wolf loonies with credit cards and arsenals are another.

4. Paranoia! This is kind of like being scared shitless all the time, but bigger. There are forces out there waiting to git’cha – you have no idea who or what they are, why they want to git’cha, or what happens if they do git’cha, but you are sure they are hiding under every rock. Like my old nemesis, who informed me with complete sincerity that Muslim hordes were massing at the Mexican border, preparing to invade. Oh, seriously? And where did this valuable information come from, I asked. This guy went from angry to apoplectic within three seconds. Then he went and got himself killed in a dirt-bike race a couple months later – probably one of his opponents asked him how much Fox News he rammed into his eye-holes on a daily basis, which made him so mad he was willing to die over it. Honestly, conservative people, get a grip.

5. They are certain people who think everything is horrible and collapsing and the-end-is-near, etc., even though they have lots of money and have never had anything actually too bad ever happen to them, unless you count that fender-bender where the pickup got dented, and maybe the flat that happened in the church parking lot. Kind of not up there with watching your parents machete’d before your eyes in Rwanda, or being sexually assaulted with rifle barrels in Croatia. Yet, instead of being thankful for their myriad good fortune, these people  spend much energy feeling threatened by immigrants and poor people, while maintaining that more guns magically translates into less death-by-shooting.

I don’t know how many studies it will take to prove that not having as many guns available means fewer people get shot with them. Seems pretty obvious, even to people who really are poor candidates for weapons ownership. I salute NYC mayor Bloomberg for having the guts to say so, even though he is so fricking rich he can say anything he wants and never have to worry. But with the mighty N.R.A. taking time out from their important international agenda of making more guns available to poorer people, I would predict you won’t see any other pols stepping up to state the obvious. Truly, our national loss.

 

 

 

THE CHOWDER-HEADED HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Here’s something I find hard to understand. House Republicans have come out with a glittery new declaration: Repeal Obamacare! We hate it! It stinks! It’s outta here!

And what do they propose to solve the issue of health care after this heady salvo? NOTHING. That’s right, nothing. Zip, zero, nada. Oh, they toyed with the tort reform angle a while back, in the pre-Tea Party Lunatic era, which constitutes something like 3% of the problem. And, as usual, much pointless yakking about abortion occurred, despite it is legal, tightly regulated, and a paltry 1.3 million annually out of a national population of 312 million, not to mention the fact that THEY COULD HAVE GOTTEN RID OF IT ALTOGETHER when they had the House AND the Senate AND the President, all at the same time, during Bush’s first term. Of course, they didn’t; because it is such a convenient  issue to use to excite the masses, how could they even consider ditching it? So very tricksy, those conservatives, to tell you one thing, do another, and then blame somebody else.

ANYWAY, House Republicans stayed busy the rest of THIS term with important questions about baseball and state vegetables and similar vital topics, meanwhile declining to even discuss the number one issue relevant to the fiscal health of the nation – health care program alternatives! I mean, if you get rid of Obamacare, there are millions of people still uninsured, drug companies are left free to pry the gold fillings out of your teeth to finance your prescriptions,  the simplest medical tests will still cost 10 times what they do in every other country on Earth, and doctors will continue to desert general practice in droves to flock to lucrative medical fields such as cardiology and bunion surgery. If you are serious about ditching Obamacare, maybe there should be a backup plan! And, as I recall, the House representatives make pretty good money off of ME, and they are NOT doing the job I hired them for!

Why has so much blathery wind been generated on the fact that somebody finally tried to do something about the health care crisis in this country? Who cares whose idea it was? How about trying the plan out, and if it doesn’t work, repealing it then? Or try it out,   repeal the parts that don’t work, and try something else? If it is really over 1000 pages long, it must have gotten SOMETHING right. But carrying on about its awfulness while offering absolutely no alternative – that’s a cynical, political slug-a-bug game, counting on our collective civil disengagement and fear.

Thanks, House Republicans, for – nothing!