by Jerome Grapel…….
Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, amongst many others, as well as the death toll taken on a daily basis within the confines of the world’s most advanced nation (as they tell us here in the good ‘ol US of A) —
Guns. We’re talking a lot about guns lately. Perhaps it is a stain on our national legacy to say we’ve finally begun to think seriously about this insane proliferation of firearms only after 20 little children had to succumb to it, snuffed out, gone, dead, in a matter of seconds, beautiful children, perhaps the most telling example of why we are here on this planet; of why we exist. The usual daily carnage of gun violence was not enough to move us. Maybe we should be more ashamed than outraged for this latest outburst of psychotic behavior.
The “gun people” have a lot of assembly line rhetoric for the attitudes they represent. One such piece of excrement is that the rest of us don’t understand them or the use of firearms. They say we just don’t get it. In my case there is some truth to that. I’ve never so much as touched a real firearm. Growing up, there were no such things in our homes or any of our relative’s homes. We lived free from the paranoia of not being lethally armed. It was not a factor in our lives. Guns were for TV.
But I get it!
I’m not a parent. Although I could never plumb the depths of horror a parent in this situation might feel, I can have some understanding of the despair without borders or time limits a parent losing a young child can feel. I don’t have to be a parent to understand that. Perhaps the most heroic political act I’ve ever seen is being carried out by those grieving Connecticut parents and siblings who refuse to go away. They are like “the ghosts of Christmas past” embedding themselves in the conscience of America. Every time I see them on TV my eyes well up in a liquid haze. Imagine having gone through such a cataclysmic disaster without sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, something none of us would have blamed them for. By now I feel less sorrow than immense admiration for them. If you don’t understand that, you can be Wayne LaPierre or Senator Cruz of Texas.
It is almost embarrassing to think we Americans are debating the propriety of weapons with the ability to reel off endless rounds off bullets in seconds in the possession of anyone who might want them. Do we let anyone drive a car or an airplane? Do we let a 3 year old cross a busy street unattended? I consider our gun debate to be no more complicated than the latter question. Anyone not in agreement with that — is mentally ill.
I recently got a ticket for not using my seat belt. When I was leaving the courthouse after paying the fine, I had a lucid moment when I realized that, in this state, my not wearing a seat belt was considered a greater threat to society than a person possessing the kind of weaponry we might see in the Afghan war. So the next time you don’t buckle up, just remember what a menace to society you are. Bring your Glock or AK47, but don’t forget to fasten your seat belt unless you want the full force of the law to come crashing down on you.
Another entry into the medley of rhetoric from the “gun people” goes like this: no matter what you do to legislate gun control, people with sinister designs will always find a way to do harm.
This statement is not only true, it is so stupid it brings its sincerity into question (the sincerity of those speaking for the “gun people” will soon be raised in this essay). It is something like saying why wear helmets in a football game because people will get injured anyway. Or why give people speeding tickets because there will always be people speeding. Or why send people to prison because there will always be crime. Or, or, or — such a list would be infinite. Or how about this one: why have policemen when we can all have guns. Why have laws at all, or governments, when we can all have guns. (Cue the Beatles) All you need is guns —
One of the most prolific genres in the pantheon of the motion picture industry is the “western” — Gary Cooper westerns, John Wayne westerns, spaghetti westerns, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach, Gunsmoke, Maverick and tomahawk hair cuts. The western has left no one on the planet unfamiliar with the American “wild west”. We all remember law west of the Pecos, meaning the lack thereof. Long before the advent of MLB or NBA, of FIFA or the NFL, the “wild west” already had its favorite sport — the gun fight. We’re talking about athletes here, playing a sport with very high stakes. Winner take all. There was always some young buck coming along to challenge the fastest draw in the west with guns in holsters worn as naturally as a baseball glove, standard equipment for every man in town. The “wild west”.
Nobody living in the 19th century ever saw a western. This widespread form of entertainment is reserved for those of us privy to the technology of the 20th century and beyond. Certainly, one of the fundamental assumptions for those of us who have watched westerns is that we don’t live like that anymore. We’ve moved beyond that, are more civilized. We now have police, judges and the rule of law. Indeed, a theme running through many westerns is to subdue this vigilante gun justice and turn these virgin places into communities we could marry and raise our children in. The fact that we don’t live in the “wild west” anymore is looked upon as a sign of emotional progress by all of us.
One listening to the assembly line rhetoric of the “gun people” could easily conclude they see less gun proliferation as a sign of decay; as an emotional jump backwards; as a retro-step towards barbarism. Their party line ga-ga could lead us to believe the environment of the “wild west” is the highest form of civilization we have ever developed. Perhaps they watch a western with a teary eyed nostalgia for the “good ‘ol days”, when everyone walked around with a holster strapped to their hip containing the erect penus of their manhood for all to see — yeah man, that’s civilization!
Regardless of the assembly line rhetoric of the “gun people”, nobody wants to live in the “wild west” anymore. And that brings me to Wayne LaPierre, the mouthpiece for the “gun people”.
Perhaps some of you are wondering why I have not mentioned the National Rifle Association in this essay. Why have I chosen to say the “gun people”?
The NRA and its membership are not the real protagonists in this struggle. The NRA and its membership are not the ones most responsible for the push back against the civility of no-brainer gun laws. The NRA has now become a front organization for those who sell guns. Wayne LaPierre, in spite of his position as president of the NRA, does not really work for the NRA. He works for those who profit selling guns. He works for financial interests, not gun owners. To continue using the NRA as the boogeyman here deflects blame away from those truly responsible for this idiocy.
Can anything be said in defense of a man like Wayne LaPierre? Aren’t there lots of people lobbying for narrow financial interests that do not coincide with the “common good”? Is Wayne LaPierre no different than the person shilling for Goldman-Sachs?
Put yourself in the place of Wayne LaPierre. Think of all the assembly line rhetoric he regurgitates so naturally just to protect the profits of a mega-industry — the 2nd amendment, good guys with guns killing bad guys with guns, arming teachers, opposing the government (guns must be better than votes), ad nauseum. He does not say these things because he religiously believes in the 2nd amendment, or because a housewife with a 30 bullet clip can kill a burglar. No. He says it so an industry can go on making billions of dollars. It’s for the money!
But, you might say, lots of people do it “for the money” in the society we live in. True, but Wayne LaPierre does it for the money made over the dead bodies of little children. This is more than just power lunch greed and board room shenanigans. This is something that flirts with the word “evil”.
Could you do what Wayne LaPierre does?
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