Earlier this week, Matt Drudge posted a headline that President Obama was considering executive action on guns. With Drudge's characteristic flair for class and understatement, he framed this headline alongside a photograph of Adolf Hitler. I am not a scholar on Naziism, but I feel safe saying that Hitler wouldn't enjoy seeing a white nation electing a black man to the highest office. (And not just any black man either, but one of mixed-race.) Somehow, in Drudge's mind, there is significant overlap between Hitler and Obama.
This is why it is so difficult to have a national conversation on guns in this country. One side is interested in reasonable solutions to violence that protect people and protect gun rights. The other side is interested in living in a delusional fantasyland where President Obama is a Marxist, a Nazi, a Kenyan and now, apparently, King George. They argue that guns are the only thing keeping us from reverting to a 1776 situation -- the very same situation that they regard as the apex of American freedom. If the reasoning is hard to follow, that's because there isn't any. It's no wonder they fight tooth and nail against getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. What would that do to their personal arsenals?
The fantasyland they live in extends to their solutions to the recurring American problem of assault-weapons mass murder. They argue that we should have a country where every schoolteacher is armed, to prevent a Newtown from ever happening again. And they thought negotiating with the education unions was hard before? So they want to trust teachers with Berettas, yet they won't trust them with some books. Ain't that a bitch?
But these shootings weren't just in schools, so it wouldn't just be the teachers who need guns. We've had shootings in mosques, we've had them in movie theaters, we've had them on college campuses. Would we have armed guards in all these places? If your vision of a "free society" involves armed guards everywhere, maybe you need to check your prescription. I've seen that movie. We all have. It describes every film that features a failed apocalyptic society, a nightmare come to life. We want a country where the hills are alive with the sound of music, not the sound of artillery.
Then they point out, correctly, that more people die every year from car accidents. They point out, correctly, that no one is speaking of banning cars. What they don't understand is that this proves the point that no one wants to ban all guns. A private citizen can't buy a tank or other military vehicle. That didn't mean that the government "went after" SUVs next. There was no "slippery slope" -- and even if there were, the four-wheel drive would handle it just fine. No private citizen needs an aircraft carrier, or an Apache helicopter, or an assault rifle. If I am in a position where I have to shoot thirty people at once, I don't need a better clip. I need to move.
Yes, car deaths outnumber gun massacres. So does our inability to prevent car deaths mean we shouldn't try to prevent gun deaths? Is fewer deaths a bad goal -- or is it the best possible goal? Their argument comes down to, "I get to have an assault rifle because car wrecks happen." That's how insane the reasoning is, and it just further proves how crucial the need is for background checks. And we have tried to cut down on car deaths. In my lifetime, we've gotten stricter and more informed about drunk driving, and we've forced people to wear seatbelts and have airbags. A ban on assault weapons would be the same thing -- taking an existing behavior and making it safer for everyone.
Alcohol abuse is a perfect precedent here. We don't have liquor shows where anyone and everyone can stock up on all the scotch that they want, right? There are many other dangerous substances that are restricted but still legal. Why is it harder to get two packs of Sudafed than 10,000 bullets? Why does my pharmacist know how many pills I've acquired, but no one knows how many military-grade weapons I possess? And is that safer for everyone, including myself? Gun nuts claim that they don't want assault weapons in the hands of the mentally ill -- but that's all that a background check would prevent. Why are they fighting background checks so hard, if they're not scared that, just maybe, they won't make the grade? This is why I think gun shows should be renamed "Swapmeets for Psychos".
Rather than have an honest conversation, these paranoid nuts constantly muddle the issue. They claim violent video games are the cause. I don't know if playing a violent video game will make you violent, but I do know that playing them all day will make you unemployed -- and that will make you broke, and that will make anyone violent. Yet these same video games are safely played by broke, unemployed men in other countries. The difference is, those men don't have access to assault weapons. Our broke, unemployed men do.
Next, they tried to blame Newtown on the shooter's alleged autism, something which upset me greatly. My son Kyle is autistic, and between him and me only one of us sat outside a dude's house waiting to shoot him as payback. As I recounted in my book, thankfully I calmed down before ruining two lives. But this proves another point: guns don't kill people. Assholes kill people. We can't ban assholes -- but we can sure keep them from unloading a magazine into a crowd of innocent children.
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