Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Great American Gun Divide

Two stories in today's news make, once more, an oft-repeated-but-seldom-heeded case for greater gun control. The first involved a 10-year-old boy in Big Prairie, OH, who shot his mother in the head--fatally--with a .22-caliber rifle after she demanded that he bring some firewood inside to heat their house in bone-chilling cold weather. It turns out the the boy not only had several guns in a rack in his bedroom but ammunition as well. In addition, he was prone to violence, once hitting the principle at his school for children with behavioral problems in the face with a dust pan. His mother should be so lucky. Perhaps she sent him to his room until he settled down, not suspecting that he might emerge, guns blazing. According to the story in the Denver Post, attributed to Meghan Barr of the AP, the boy's mother had protested against having guns in his room but the father, recently estranged from her, had insisted they be allowed to remain. She would have been better off if she had kept him and tossed out the guns.

The second story involved the shootings yesterday at the Safeway market in Tucson, AZ. In this one, another apparently angry and deranged young man--age 22 and presumably more mature--took his Glock 19 semi-automatic and at least four clips holding at total of about 90 rounds as he went shopping for politicians and their groupies. By the time he stopped shooting, six people were dead, including a nine-year-old girl who was born on Sep. 11, 2001, and the Chief Judge of the Federal District Court in Arizona. At least 12 people were hurt, most notably the Democratic Congresswoman from the Arizona 8th Congressional District, which included Tucson. The shooter appears to be another weird loner who confounded and bemused his high school peers, disturbed the administration at Pima Community College who suspended him from enrollment, and the U.S. Army recruiter enough to reject him. Yet, such a troubled man is allowed to access--we don't know yet how--enough firepower to forever change the lives of nearly two dozen people within a few seconds.

In the United States of America, we are becoming inured of a lot of nuttiness lately. Hotheads and quacks can be found from Main Street to Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. Guns are so common in rural America that the neighbor of the dead mother in Ohio was quoted as saying, "Out here, if you don't hear a gunshot in a day's time, then something's wrong".

I'll tell you what's wrong with America. It's initials are NRA. It's the organization that turns its back on cases such as these as the "price we have to pay" for their twisted idea of the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The only reason to want to own a gun, other than for sport, is fear. Fear of "those others" who lurk across the border, around the block, downtown, in dark alleys, and--worst case--outside their bedroom window. If they feared more their own son "borrowing" their gun out of curiosity and then accidentally killing himself or his friend or sibling; if they feared more that someone might use that hunting rifle to kill his mother or the kid next door out of juvenile rage; if they feared more that their "worthless" or "different" son might use their means of self-defense to blast into oblivion the hopes of dozens of innocent strangers; then--and only then--might we become more deserving of taking our place among the great civilizations of the world.

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