Saturday, December 15, 2012

Semantic Games About Gun Control

"Guns don't kill people, people do." - If ever I have been sick to death of hearing a simplistic freakin' excuse for why we can't even attempt to make the slightest changes to gun laws in an effort to cut down on gun violence, it is this one. Some people on Facebook rush to make their point about the inviolability of firearm ownership even before posting the 20 stars meant to represent the children shot to death in the Sandy Hook Elementary School and the beautiful pictures of God welcoming them to heaven. It is, in effect, a shrug of the virtual shoulders - "of course, it's terrible, horrific but (shrug)...but there's nothing we can do. Let's change our avatars and turn off our Christmas lights for a night and then move on....until the next time.

"People get killed in automobile accidents, but we don't ban cars." That's another good one. No, we don't ban cars but we do have to take a test to get a driver's license - proving at least minimal qualifications to operate a vehicle, such as knowledge of laws and signs and ability to read an eye chart. We have to carry a photo i.d. to prove that the State has given us their stamp of approval. If we violate the laws, our licenses may be suspended. We can even be designated Habitual Offenders and garner a lifetime suspension if we persist in disobeying. We are all entered into a national database so that if we get a speeding ticket in Florida, we'll lose our Indiana license until we make things right with Florida. And, in addition, our vehicles must be registered. We pay taxes on them. We have to insure them. So, no, we don't ban cars but the government does do a lot to regulate them.

Some say that the difference is that driving a car is a privilege but owning guns is a constitutional right. Ironically, the same conservative types who are foaming-at-the-mouth militant that we should never submit to having our names entered into a gun registration database are the most approving of having to provide our Bureau of Motor Vehicle identification in order to vote, the most elementary of all of our constitutional rights. Go, figure. It appears they have seriously conflicting opinions about the acceptable use of power by Big Brother.

The same people who post on Facebook about the powerful God they serve, then theorize that this is all happening, these massacres, because we removed God from the schools. Seriously? We "removed" God from the schools? And this powerful God supposedly just slinked obediently away like a whipped pup? And is he a vengeful God who then said, "they made me leave so too bad about those kids but I'm out of it." Come on, people. If there is a God, such as the one you tell me you revere, He is surely not this weak...or this petty. You are imputing to him all-to-human attributes.

Aurora, Colorado - Jovan Belcher - a mall in Oregon - a Sikh temple in Wisconsin - a school in Connecticut - and who know how many other less-publicized gun homicides in that same time period. Are we ever going to reach a critical mass of anguish and at least begin a rational discussion about gun laws and what basic changes we might all agree to? Closing the gun show loophole so every single sale of a firearm requires a background check? Is that too much to ask. How crazy is it that we obsess over illegal aliens crossing our border and stopping potential terrorists from boarding planes but once here, insist, that there should be no method of stopping them from going to gun shows to buy weapons.

Mother Jones did a study on gun violence in America. Some of what they found:

1) Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders by means of firearms in the US. They've happened in 30 states and in most cases, the shooters obtained their weapons legally.

2) Eleven of the worst mass shootings in the last 50 year took place in our country.

3) America is one of the world's most violent countries....but our rate of violence has been going down.

4) The South is the most violent region in the U.S.

5) Believe it or not, from what what you read, gun ownership in America is going down.

6) More guns lead to more gun homicides....which would seem to be self-evident, even if the NRA tries to convince you that it isn't so.

7) Further, states with stricter gun control laws have fewer death from guns. Duh.

I support closing the gun show loophole. I support re-instituting the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. (And please don't cry to me about how you absolutely need these things for your own personal pursuit of happiness. For what?) I support anyone applying for a gun permit having to take a class and a test to show they have at least a passing knowledge of the proper use of firearms.

The NRA and the right-wingers profess a profound belief that we need our guns to prevent our very own government from staging a coup and taking our freedoms by force. People, I hate to tell you but if the government ever decides to to do such a thing, your little Glock and mine won't stop them.  The military has bombs, for Pete's sake. They have drones. They have fighter jets and the most sophisticated forms of intelligence beamed to them by satellite. They have biological and chemical weapons they can put in the water supply or spray into the air.

On the other hand, there are a gazillion guns in America. It would be an impossible task to confiscate them all even if Obama and the United Nations truly wanted to, which they don't. No one is going to come knocking at your door to demand you hand over your weapons. Most cops would refuse to obey such an order, even if it ever came, which it won't. Most soldiers would refuse, as well.

So, isn't the slaughter of twenty innocents by one man with guns enough of a reason for us to forego our knee-jerk reactions and rationally discuss what, if anything, we might do to lessen the possibility that it will happen again?