THE BLOG
07/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Flip-Flopping, Obama, and Gun Control

Right-wingers are screeching 'FLIP-FLOP!' while leftists are clutching their heads and preparing to vote for Ralph the Nadir. All because Obama is moving to the center. Makes you wonder when this country will grow up.

Sure, I'll miss the old Obama, too. But he's not running against Hillary now. (Will the left subject him to the same sneering viciousness with which they attacked Hillary for doing the same thing? I doubt it somehow). He wants to get elected, not just get his ego stroked. Is his strategy correct? Probably.

As to the flip-flop charge, it feels kind of empty after eight years of 'staying the course' and running the nation into the ground. Personally, I have no respect for anyone who doesn't 'flip-flop' occasionally. I want a president capable of changing his mind, correcting his course when it's headed for an iceberg, learning from mistakes, profiting from feedback. I've had enough of decisive stupidity, of rigidly refusing to respond to reality. I want somebody with flexibility, no matter how much it freaks out the authoritarian personalities in the media.

I'm certainly not crazy about the shifts Obama has made -- I only hope they're tactical and not sincere. But let's face it, we have a two-party system, which forces all candidates toward the center. If we had a multi-party system we could all get exactly the candidates and positions we wanted, but they'd still be forced to compromise with their opponents in order to put together a cabinet. It all comes down to the same thing: it's democracy, which means the voice of everyone, not just the folks you agree with. For us it means including the voices of all those folks still living in the 17th century.

The antipathy to gun control is particularly bothersome. The Supreme Court now says every American has the right to kill people, subject only to certain situational constraints. While Bush and Cheney never cease fear-mongering about terrorist attacks, we already have the equivalent of regular terrorist attacks from deranged gun owners flipping out on their co-workers, bosses, teachers, fellow students, exes, relatives, neighbors, and random strangers.

The NRA keeps saying guns don't kill people, although not even the nuttiest of their fanatics could deny that the presence of guns multiplies deaths. The more guns you have in your house, the more you, some member of your family, or your kid's schoolmates are likely to bite the dust. Sure, people kill people. They do it with knives, pokers, rope, wire, etc. What distinguishes the gun from all these other murder weapons is that while these other implements have other uses, a gun has only a single function: to kill. And it's the most efficient way of doing it. That is, after all, why it was invented.

Rifles are used to kill animals more often than people, and hunting with a rifle is considered a sport. While there isn't all that much skill involved in killing an animal with a high-powered rifle, a case could be made that ridding the nation of its deer and rabbit surplus is serving a useful function.

But all handguns (not to mention grenades, automatic weapons, and other items often possessed by NRA nutcakes) are designed for only one purpose. To kill people. If you own a handgun it's because you want to be able to kill people at will.

Especially yourself. Over half of all gun deaths are suicides. And guns do kill people it turns out, for suicide attempts with guns are 90% successful, compared with 34% for jumping off high places, and 2% for pills. A household with a suicide is 3 to 5 times more likely to have a gun in it.

Gun control doesn't prevent anyone who feels realistically endangered from acquiring the means to kill. All you have to do is make a case and get a license. Unfortunately our nation has a large population of sexually insecure males who like to walk around pretending they're Dirty Harry, and a still larger population of acquisitive status-seekers, terrified someone will steal their future landfill.

The reality is, you're more likely to get killed if you own a gun than if you don't, but maybe that's part of Nature's design.

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