By Patricia H. Kushlis
Update, December 21. Here's the NRA's answer: volunteer armed guards from the ranks of retirees and veterans for schools trained, of course, by none other than the NRA. Meanwhile, blame the video gaming companies and the media for creating the problem. Naturally, readily available assault weapons have nothing to do with it: read it yourself.
How many hunters live in the U.S.? How many of them use semi-automatics in their pursuit of four legged creatures and dinosaur descendants? Is a hunt for wild game in overkill mode to remain protected by a 200 plus year old amendment to the US Constitution which in reality pertains to citizen militias which have gone the way of the dodo replaced years ago by state National Guards, police and sheriff departments and even their eyes and ears – private security companies and unarmed neighborhood watches?
Do the gun-afflicted really think that they could fend off the federal government’s Special Forces with their home grown firepower if push came to shove to protect their castle er home from a government they’ve been encouraged to hate by fearmongering radio announcers? Remember how long Osama Bin Laden lasted – once he’d been found and targeted in Abbottabad. Wasn’t it about half an hour? His compound had high walls and a security guard and the CIA didn’t even use weaponized drones in that pursuit.
Or what about that unwanted intruder? Chances are those home arsenals are far more likely to be turned against a family member. Most murders are related to domestic disputes. That’s certainly what statistics show.
I never thought a lethal minority of about 4 million people (the number of NRA members) out of a country of 315 million or less than .013 percent of the population should be able to hold the other 99.9 percent hostage essentially enabling murderers and would be murderers in the name of what did you say? But that’s what the New York Times reported from Newtown even after last Friday’s tragedy there although others are trying to get a grip on the tragedy so it doesn't happen again.
Follow the money
The right to bear arms - is that it? Or maybe the real culprits are far fewer than the 4 million – maybe they are simply a tiny but wealthy and powerful lobby closely tied to the right wing - like Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, Texas’ own Rick Perry and most importantly the various gun manufacturers and their backers which have become filthy rich at the expense of little children and their distraught families.
But then why do private equity and hedge fund firms like Cerberus Capital Management’s Freedom Group plow capital into these companies anyway – return on excess cash to make more cash? Worse, why is the California State Teachers’ Association Retirement System (Cal-STRS) a major investor? Seems to me this non-profit could and should invest in cleaner funds rather than participate in enabling the madness too - it doesn't need just to study it to death.
And why does Walmart sell these serial killer guns in as many as 1,700 stores nationwide in urban areas including the one where I live.
The Second Amendment
Let’s not quibble with the Second Amendment’s words. They read: “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.” Read it again. Carefully this time. Consider the context of the clause “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” because that has all to do with the maintenance of a “well- regulated Militia” necessary for the security of a “free State.” It doesn’t mean a well-funded, finely tuned gun industry with all too many right wing and a few other members of Congress, the Supreme Court and state legislatures in its thrall.
Please. Get it right for a change.
Guns kill people and the greater the gun’s firepower the more people a single gunman – or woman – can kill. If Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy had been an archery aficionado, for instance, not a semi-automatic weapons freak the likelihood of her son’s murdering more than a couple of people if that with her bows and arrows before being stopped would have been infinitesimal. Moreover, it’s highly unlikely Lanza would have been able to turn that bow-and-arrow around to use on himself regardless of his mental state.
Other industrialized countries have gotten their murder rates and serial killers under control. Look at Japan, Australia, the UK and much of the rest of Europe. Well placed and enforced laws made all the difference in protecting the many from the few. Doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t have problem citizens with mental disorders. Dealing effectively with these troubled people is another part of the complicated equation this country needs to address but it’s no excuse for lack of gun control.
Maybe a little transparency does help: on December 18, Cerberus indicated it intended to sell its holdings in Freedom Group. Only, however, after the media focused the spotlight on that holding. But then Cerberus is not the only private equity firm to have invested capital in the arms trade. Are any others also embarrassed enough to follow suit?
Have American gun owners never heard of hunting clubs with locked gun cabinets? That’s what I remember from my years working in Europe. I knew a few people who hunted for reindeer, bear or elk or whatever else one considers fair game near the Arctic Circle but I think these hunters stored their weapons at hunting clubs and their ability to purchase weapons was far stricter. Far more Europeans I knew enjoyed the pleasure of hunting for mushrooms – which come to think of it can also be lethal weapons or not – but that’s a different story.
Controls are needed and supported
If you’ve read this far, you will undoubtedly have figured out that I belong to the 54% of Americans who support stronger gun control laws as well as the 59% of those who favor stricter control on semi-automatic weapons. Those are the figures in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll on this long standing controversy. The poll numbers are really not all that different from before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last Friday. Meanwhile, the fearful continue flocking to gun shows where, it seems, anyone and everyone can stock up for the New Year – no questions asked.
Does the U.S. then require a super majority of Americans who support gun control to get laws and legislative attitudes changed despite the fact this is the fourth massacre of innocent Americans by suicidal young men within the past four years?
Freedom of what did I hear – to pack semi-automatics to be used against whom? If only those teachers had been equipped with semis themselves. Oh yes, that terrific proposal is floating around the right wing ether-sphere yet again – even overheard in the Halls of Congress.
A partisan split - yet again
And what about Republican heavy-weights like Mit Romney, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, and Michelle Bachman? Where do they stand on the gun control issue? Not to mention GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin and the five unsuccessful Republican candidates for the House (including the controversial professional wrestling magnate Linda McMahon from Connecticut) who supported legitimate rape during the last election campaign? Haven’t heard from them about the murders in Connecticut yet. But maybe this is because consistent polling over the years shows that although gun ownership has declined that decline has come from Democratic voters not Republicans. About 55% of Republicans keep guns at home whereas only a quarter of Democrats do according to Nate Silver in the New York Times. Wouldn't want to disappoint the base now. The lack of logic, leadership – let alone the ethics - of all this boggles the mind.
Where’s the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to gun control? It’s usually consistent on the question of sacredness of life: at least its stance on abortion is consistent with its opposition to the death penalty. And it's not shy to advocate these positions publicly. Why has this morally powerful religious institution apparently gone silent on the Second Amendment’s deleterious effects?
Or am I just missing something? A little moral education from the pulpit regardless of religious denomination would be useful right now: generalized feel-good messages of peace and good will towards humanity during the Christmas season and comfort for the grieving only go so far.
The NRA and Its Cohorts
Meanwhile, it’s pretty clear that the National Rifle Association and likeminded organizations – those wonderful organizations that use their members to front for Smith and Wesson and other gun manufacturers – have reverted to past form. The NRA has reportedly closed down its Facebook page and Twitter Feed – and isn’t taking calls from journalists although it did – finally – issue a statement of condolence December 18 along with announcing its intent to hold a press conference in the future.
The apparent strategy: Lie low but work stealthily behind the political scenes to torpedo any and all legislation that might be forthcoming in the aftermath of the most recent bloodbath caused by the weapons their backers produce and sell to the fearful – or deranged. That strategy has succeeded in the past. Why shouldn’t it again? Has anything changed? Or has a tipping point finally been reached?