When did the morality of the United States go from entering World War II because it was the “right” thing to do to invading Iraq because we could? We won the Cold War and promptly anointed ourselves the world’s policeman and obligatory parent. We went from a Vietnam-era public untrusting of our government and pleading for peace to a public untrusting of our government and spoiling for a fight with it and everybody else. We wrap ourselves in two diametrically opposed swatches of moral cloth; the second amendment and the bible. We believe our government has become tyrannical and thus we must arm ourselves with all manner of weaponry. We dismiss gun control with vitriolic fervor, siting the legislative ineffectiveness of established laws, while ignoring the fact that those same laws had been eviscerated by NRA-backed politicians. “See, they don’t work,” say the gun lovers. A cynical person might see this as a self-fulfilling prophecy purposely set up by the NRA to prove that gun laws don’t work, hiding the fact that the laws were programmed to fail as written. Fitted with a 30-second sound bite mentality, we espouse our philosophy in fortune cookie slogans. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” “If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” “Should we outlaw the spoon to prevent obesity?” “Should we outlaw the car to prevent automobile deaths?” No, we should use some common sense and prevent 100,000 Americans from being shot every year. Duh. The problem, of course, is that common sense isn’t common anymore.
We must arm ourselves with concealed weapons because the boogeyman is going to attack us in our homes, while at the same time we profess to follow the teachings of Jesus. “Keep Christ in Christmas,” reads the bumper sticker on the left side of the bumper of the twelve foot high pickup truck under which I can drive my Camry and not get wet from the rain. The right side of the bumper has another sticker which reads, “Gun Control means using BOTH hands.” If only someone in the audience in Aurora had been packing…
Yes, American machismo is alive and well, even without any requisite reasoning. The top selling vehicle in 2000 was the Ford F-150 pickup truck. In the years that have followed (living in the post September 11 world of war, our “desire” to move away from an oil based economy and the birth of “green” technology), the best-selling vehicle through June of this year is the Ford F-150 pickup truck. My, what we have learned! True, gas mileage has increased over those ten years. The 2000 F-150 only got 15 miles per gallon. The 2012 model got 17. And why do they have to be jacked up so high that in driving in my lowly hybrid sedan I can’t see past the steel wall in front of me. Having them behind me is no bargain either. Their headlights are so high that they pass directly into my rear view mirror! And when did we begin to believe that pickup trucks must be driven like NASCAR vehicles?
Of course, there is a path back to reason that doesn’t have to pass through “Who is John Galt” egoism. The 2008 Supreme Court decision referenced, championed and waived like a flag by the gun loving public (D.C. v. Heller) contains language that makes sensible legislation possible. Two words, actually. Paragraph number two specifically states:
The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
“sensitive places.” Further define “sensitive places” and the problem is solved. Add movie theatres, churches, and anyplace else that I, my wife or children might wander and I’ll be happy.
The second option is to legislate around the second amendment’s archaic premise. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D- N.Y.) suggested on November 4, 1993 that while the United States had a 200 year supply of guns, we only had a four year supply of ammunition. Turning the oft-quoted phrase noted above on its ear, he was quoted as saying before the senate, “Guns don’t kill people; bullets do.” He proposed legislation adding a tax on ammunition. A 10,000% tax! Translated, that means that a $24 box of 20 Black Talon cartridges would cost $1,500. The Black Talon was a 9-millimeter hollow-tipped cartridge with a bullet advertised as expanding “to expose razor-sharp reinforced jacket petals. Advertisements for these bullets are quoted as saying, “These cut tissues in the wake of the penetrating core,” and “penetrates soft tissue like a throwing star — very nasty; very effective; a real improvement in handgun ammo.” Sounds like a great product! Alas, despite his being the chairman of the Finance Committee, the bill went nowhere. In an odd endorsement, the comedian Chris Rock, speaking years later as part of his routine, said:
You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Men, we need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars… five thousand dollars per bullet… You know why? Cause if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders.
Yeah! Every time somebody get shot we’d say, ‘Damn, he must have done something … Shit, he’s got fifty thousand dollars’ worth of bullets in his ass.’
And people would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost five thousand dollars. ‘Man I would blow your (f*@#ing) head off…if I could afford it.’ ‘I’m gonna get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man. You’d better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway.’
So even if you get shot by a stray bullet, you wouldn’t have to go to no doctor to get it taken out. Whoever shot you would take their bullet back, like “I believe you got my property.”
In his 1870 work My Summer in a Garden, Charles Dudley Warner wrote, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Never was this truer than an agreement between Senator Moynihan and Chris Rock!
The macho American male dismisses “rational” discussion on these topics as the ranting of bleeding-heart liberals. Tree hugging, global-warming-believing, socialists. We won, you lost, discussion over. Deal with it. My gun is bigger than yours; my truck is bigger than yours. My penis is bigger than yours. Now sit down and shut up before I hit you with either of them.