Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gun Thoughts

So here is a question. Do crazy people who buy guns often kill people, or do people who buy guns often go crazy and kill people?

I ask because, as anyone even remotely aware of the news knows, more and more children, women and men, are getting murdered by gun-wielding assailants who do not necessarily have either criminal records, or diagnosed serious mental issues. In fact, such attacks are so sadly routine that they barely make the front page anymore.

It’s important to look into this chicken-and-egg relationship between sanity and gun crimes because for years, the National Rifle Association has trumpeted that random killings would cease if the government kept a record of who is crazy and who is not, and kept firearms away from those who are. It’s a ludicrous proposition only someone short of brain cells would put forward, and it violates every constitutional belief, but there you are. No one has ever accused the NRA of being rational.

The thing about guns is they inflict death without the physical involvement of the shooter. We are rarely told that someone went on a rampage with a baseball bat or a set of tire chains, and killed twelve colleagues at work before escaping in a Ford Explorer. Such an attack would be too messy. Blood, flesh and hair all over the miscreant… And so it doesn’t happen. People, be they deranged or not, very rarely commit such acts. But a gun is a clean, shiny toy that kills from a distance; no fuss, no muss.

Now imagine a borderline mental case, a functioning member of society with, let’s say, severe anger issues.  Like most Americans, he really doesn’t want to be showered with blood and guts, and this is what prevents him from truly going postal. Cleanliness is an American virtue, right up there with godliness, and our man will shrink away from violence that requires a personal touch.

Now give him a gun, a way to make his destructionist wishes come true without soiling his Costco jeans and shirt. Depending on his skills, he can kill from inches or yards away with nary a drop of body liquids to sully his day.

Honestly, I think there’s something to this. I believe a gun can be a catalyst, the impetus needed to push past the last restraint. A gun requires no physical strength, no effort or exertion, just a spasm of the index finger. It doesn’t require much skill, either, if you’re blowing someone away from four or five feet away.

Realistically, we’ll never get the unfortunate people with shattered realities off the streets, nor should we. Nor will we ever get the 300 million guns registered. We will not get really serious laws punishing gun theft, gun crimes, or illegal gun sales. The existing system is so overtaken with gun lobbyists that change doesn’t stand a chance.

So now we return to my favorite suggestion: Let’s legislate the purchase of ammo. Let’s pass laws to make sure bullets are sold to responsible people. Yes, of course it will take years to exhaust the existing supply, and certainly some enterprising bootleggers will manufacture projectiles, but still. It would be a start when, at this point, we have no start at all. In fact, we seem to be going backwards when it comes to gun control.

And maybe, come to think of it, the truly unbalanced people responsible for all the deaths are the legislators. If they were sane, we’d have laws in place already.

Really. We would.







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