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Rick Santorum Is a Better Father Than I

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I read over the weekend that Bella Santorum, three-year-old daughter of Rick and Karen, is now a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. My Canadian friend and I were in Mexico at the time, which is slightly ironic because handguns are illegal in Canada as they are in Mexico and for the benefit of those who cross into Mexico from San Diego there's ample signage to announce the fact. As one draws nearer the Mexican border from the north, one is reminded more and more flagrantly each quarter-mile or so that one had best leave one's Glock behind because the Mexican authorities don't play. They catch you with a piece and you're in for some most un-amicable consequences, the sort of consequences a gringo fears like a Brit fears an orthodontist.

But what do the Mexicans know? Look at that country, torn as it is by the wanton violence of a cash-fueled drug trade that contributed to probably 40,000 murders from 2006 to 2010. That's 10,000 dead each year, mostly from guns, which are supposedly illegal in Mexico. They might want to consider legalizing guns so they can achieve the sort of societal stability we take for granted here in the U.S., where... damn it. I thought I had a point. Turns out there are also about 10,000 gun homicides per year in the U.S.

At least we're keeping pace with the Mexicans. The Canadians, ninnies that they are, they don't even get to 200. Seriously.

There's no accounting for culture. Who's to say why the Canadians can't murder one another at an acceptable rate? For that matter, who's to say why the Mexicans can shoot one another by the thousands despite the fact that guns are illegal in Mexico? But then who cares about Canada and Mexico? The one country has gobs of murder and gave us Luis Miguel, while the other has very few murders but produced Michael Bublé. They're equally awful in my book.

The point is, here in the Fifty Nifty we've got more guns than you can shake a stick at and we obviously need them because Americans keep killing one another like it's going out of style. That, of course, explains why a three-year-old should be a card-carrying lifetime member of an organization that promotes and defends the right of Americans to pack heat as part of a well-organized militia or as part of a family of Pennsylvania Catholics or whatever.

I'm a failed parent in at least one regard -- my daughter is 23 and to my knowledge has never discharged a weapon, not unless a smart mouth counts as a weapon. As it stands, my kid is ill prepared to defend herself against self-appointed neighborhood vigilantes, which mightn't matter insofar as she's a white kid, but she's equally ill prepared to protect the rights of free American citizens against an invasion by Somali pirates, the rise of an underworld race of orcs, or the tyranny of Richard Chamberlain as the evil Doctor No Real Future. When the time comes, as it certainly will, for all good red-blooded Americans to unholster their six-shooters or Berettas or what-not, don't count on my daughter to be of much help. She wouldn't know a gat from Shinola and that's my fault.

I hate admitting it but the Santorums are better parents than I by far. They know the importance of enlisting a child in a cause and an organization as early in life as possible. I know there are those who might question the appropriateness of aligning a child with any political lobbying group in that child's toddlerhood and to them I say, "Commie!"

Had we more three-year-olds in this country who understood the principles of marksmanship, hunting, self-defense and dubious construction of antiquated constitutional amendments, our preschools would be much safer places. Every day in America terrible, unspeakable things happen to children all because those children can't safely and reliably wield a licensed firearm in their own defense and that's a tragedy. It's a tragedy the Santorums don't wish to see befall their own family and that's the sort of sound American thinking that helped make this country the gun-toting, fun-loving place that has been the envy of the world ever since Paul Revere ran around Newark doling out freedom muskets to patriotic kindergartners.

If you have young children, I urge you to consider the benefits of a lifetime N.R.A. membership. Consider: N.R.A. members receive a $5,000 insurance policy to cover accidents at, on the way to or coming back from any N.R.A. event, as well as any accident that involves a firearm while hunting. For lifetime members that benefit is $10,000. Junior members don't qualify for such insurance, but those who survive to adulthood can get covered then, which is nice.

N.R.A. members also get their choice of three different N.R.A. monthly publications. Junior members can choose a fourth, namely Insights, about which the publishers say:

N.R.A.'s monthly magazine for junior members, caters to all ages and skill levels among them. From the youngster eager to learn gun safety and shoot his first BB gun, to the high school smallbore competitor on her way to Olympic Gold, young people turn to INSIGHTS for its fun-filled, action-packed coverage of safety, achievement and excellence in the shooting sports.

Aside from the insurance and the magazine, N.R.A. members get a cap, a membership card and not much else except, as we all know and appreciate, "the defense of your constitutional right to keep and bear arms," which is an issue of vital importance to all children. You get all that for $1,000 -- a measly grand, a paltry cost for such an investment in your child's future.

Bella's worth it. Isn't your son or daughter?

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