Guns, Greed and Paranoia: The Poisons Bleeding America

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The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, the second amendment stating ““A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The NRA has chosen to have only half of it emblazoned on their wall, leaving out the first part, stated as “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” There’s a good reason why.

Yes, the original verbiage is clunky, but its meaning was quite different. There was no National Guard, large standing military forces, or even police forces in most of the country then. Local militia, made up of the people who lived in the towns, farms and cities, was the force to be called up in times of war, violence or unrest, and each man was expected to have a gun (or if not, a sword or pitchfork) as a weapon to bring with him. This was the “a well regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state” part. 

Times have changed greatly in the course of 227 years. We no longer have or need local militias, but we have many other things no one could have foreseen back then. Assault weapons, not designed for the hunting of anything except people, semi-automatic and automatic killing machines have proliferated, along with all the paraphernalia to make them even more deadly. We also have a culture of fear, paranoia and racist hatred that has been promoted to sell guns of every kind to everyone, promoted and financed by the NRA, gun dealers and their lobbyists, along with a Congress and even Presidents who have been bought off with obscenely huge contributions. That good reason why? Money, lots and lots of it, along with money’s old partner, power.

 When mass shootings at schools, public events, churches and social gatherings are a constant in a country, something’s gone very very wrong with the entire culture. That paranoia has flowered into deadly uncontrollable rage among angry, irrational people who have easy access to killing machines that should have never been sold to the general public. To label these people as “mentally ill” is probably a given, but to use mental health as the reason these murders happen is specious and flawed. There’s way too many mentally damaged people in this country, but most of them aren’t out buying AR-15s and shooting people, even though the NRA and their supporters would like you to think that’s the reason. There’s way too many people on mood-altering, psychotropic and opioid drugs, too, but once again, that’s a flawed argument. Mental health is a huge and underfunded problem, one so complex that it takes the pressure off the NRA and their supporters to point that convenient finger.

The finger of common sense and truth points only one direction: stop selling assault weapons to the general public, put more controls on the requirements to buy any gun, from a hunting rifle to a pistol, and stop gun shows where anyone can buy almost any kind of weapon with or without a bribe under the table. This just makes sense, and doesn’t endanger any law-abiding sane citizen’s right to own a gun. Why does the NRA not support this? Or anyone else, gun owner or not? Oh, yeah, we’re back to money again. And really, that’s ALL it is, propaganda and paranoia aside.

I grew up with guns, shot a deer when I was twelve, bought a Colt .38 for what I thought was “self-defense” when I was 22. I’ve shot an AR-15, a BAR for fun and target practice, and live in the West where rattlesnakes hang around the corrals and water tanks. I no longer own any guns, because I don’t need them. I sold the first of them when my children were small, and over the years the guns have all gone. Some of my friends own guns, some don’t, but that’s their choice. What I can’t wrap my head around is why people think by putting more stringent controls on assault weapons and qualifications to buy any gun they are losing their right to own a gun. This is not only incorrect, but ridiculous. The paranoia and hatred whipped up by the gun lobby at any mention of regulations on these things is completely nuts. The hypocrisy of lawmakers who have taken money from the NRA who send “thoughts and prayers” and say “this isn’t the time to talk about gun control” whenever there’s a shooting is even worse. How dare they?

After a killer shot three people and wounded eight near Santa Barbara, conservative activist “Joe the Plumber” posted a letter to the victims’ families. “Your dead kids,” he wrote, “don’t trump my Constitutional rights.” No, Joe, your appalling message is wrong. You can take your gun to bed with you every night. We just don’t want the next angry mass shooter to be able to do so with his AR-15.

 We can fix this, or at least make a start. Every single country that has regulated guns, or even just assault weapons, has seen dramatic decreases, in some cases to zero, in the proliferation of mass shootings. Will it stop all of it, forever? Sadly, probably not.  But if it saves lives, and it will, especially those of schoolchildren, targeted out of sick rage, it’s the only thing to do.

This isn’t about political opinion or differences, it’s about morality, truth and common sense. It’s way past time.

Raven