Friday, January 21, 2011

Guns. Again.

“What happened in Tucson was not a failure of gun control laws. This was a failure of the mental-health system.”

Remember these words. They were spoken by Lawrence Kearn, the general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, during an interview held at the world’ largest gun show which opened this week in Las Vegas.

Let’s repeat it, just to be sure we understand the implications. . .  “(it was) not a failure of gun control laws. This was a failure of the mental-health system.”

The assumption here is that controlling mentally ill people is a better (easier) and more politically acceptable initiative than trying to control gun sales. That’s quite a reach. So we are back to the “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Like all great and successful lies, the NRA mantra has a seed of truth in it. Aside from firearms that accidentally discharge, guns, in and of themselves, are no more dangerous than electric toothbrushes. The rub, of course, is that a man armed with a gun and intent on harm will do a lot more damage than a man in the same state of mind but armed with a toothbrush.  A Frisbee-wielding maniac will quickly be subdued. A gun-wielding maniac? Not so much. Really, when was the last time you heard of a berserker with a knife, a baseball bat, or an ax.

There’s no doubt the health care system needs some serious work, and this is particularly true when it comes to assisting people with serious mental health issues. Ronald Reagan gutted mental health care and research during his tenure, and three decades later we’re still paying for his cavalier attitude, his certainty that all Americans should be able to achieve what he had done by pulling upwards on their own bootstraps. It’s a nice ideal and, of course, total fiction voiced by a man who, as a former movie actor, believed in fictional beings and fictional achievements. By the way, he got shot by another madman,  proving once again that guns do indeed kill, wound, maim.
Guns are cowardly, if efficient, ways of killing; they operate from a distance and do not involve the shooter in the visceral mess that is violent death. They do not require the physical strength necessary to stab, slice or perforate. Their very simplicity ensures no great skill is needed to make them perform as designed. A twitch of the index finger and irreparable harm is done…

Now here’s another interesting quote about guns.  "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Our principle is that the ***** commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the ****. Yet, having guns, we can create **** organizations… We can also create cadres, create schools, create culture, create mass movements.  All things grow out of the barrel of a gun."

That’s Mao Zedong, Problems of War and Strategy, written in 1932. The words I have replaced with **** are “Communist Party.”

I didn’t want to offend anyone.

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