The Kids Are Alright
Copyright © by Len Holman, 1/20/13
On Wednesday, President Obama, flanked by schoolchildren from Sandy Hook elementary School and Vice President Biden, made an appeal to Congress and the American public, to end gun violence—which of course is patently ridiculous in this country, since we kill each other with astonishing rapidity and regularity. And we don’t do it by throwing cream pies. The modest executive orders Obama signed mostly concern background checks and research into gun violence, but he wants the congress to pass legislation to curb assault rifles and large-capacity magazines.
Predictably, the words were hardly out of his mouth when the unctuous, ignorant, hysterical and scared outrage began. Accusations included that old favorite: “It’s an assault on the 2nd Amendment!” Followed very closely by: “See? That socialist is trying to take away our God-given right to shoot first and ask no questions later!” In fact, the President explicitly paid homage to the 2nd Amendment in his presentation and explicitly said that no one was planning to come in the dead of night (presumably ferried in by those Black Helicopters). Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky called out Obama for acting like a “king,” and obvious reference to those glory days of George III, when every colonist carried a squirrel gun.
Now, if Aristotle were among us today, he would be dismayed, and we would have to explain to him that not everyone is amenable to logic, to reason, to common sense. No matter what anyone says, no matter how reasonable a thing is, if it involves guns or ammo, it is like being in Heaven and casually mentioning to God that one particular cloud could be moved a little to the left—considered off limits to even the most innocuous of suggestions. I take it that all the very vocal, irate, and choleric folks who are positive it is the administration’s secret plan to deprive citizens of their right to shred a deer with AR-15s want NOTHING to change. No amount of school shootings or theater shootings or mall shootings or ANY kind of shootings is enough to dissuade these people from looking with extreme suspicion and prejudice at any attempt to alter the cherished, mythological factor of the American Legend—the culture of killing and shooting that made this country great. The motto of the vociferous gun people seems to be something like “Everything is fine. The kids are alright.”
The estimates vary: there are three million guns in this country; there are five million guns in this country. The fact is that no one really knows how many there are, only that there are one hell of a lot of guns in this country. There is no way that- no matter how strong the resolve, no matter how horrific the latest shooting, no matter how eloquent any public official is- those three million people will wake up one day and say, “Maybe there’s a better way.” Imagine all the scared people out there, egged on by the culture, by the “leaders.” by the crazies running amok in the crumbling economies and arid deserts, by the shadows in the closet. We kill each other by the hundreds every week, and by the thousands every year, but we all know that people, not guns, kill people.
People have, as philosopher like to say, agency. Guns are inert and don’t do much harm in and of themselves, unless a loaded one gets dropped on the cement and goes off. So the solution seems to follow easily: get rid of the people. That seems a bit drastic, so the NRA suggests arming everyone in sight. This seems right to them. Gun violence will go down if everyone knows that everyone else has a gun. Gun violence will decrease to a very small number if every kindergarten child has a Glock (just in case the armed security guards are on the other side of the campus when an assault takes place). If everyone has a gun, eventually there will be no “gun-free zones,” which is a phrase the NRA is fond of using. If there are no such zones, then, yes, the kids WILL be alright—at least that’s the logic here. These little angels will still fall off their bikes, get hit by cars, fall from heights, get preyed-upon by perverts, and wander off in grocery stores, never to be seen again. But they will not be shot. That seems to be the theory, anyway.
We won’t do as England and Australia have done, as Japan did during the Age of the Samurai—give up the gun, but we could maybe just to a little here and there, have a sane and productive e discussion, pass a few laws about background checks and gun locks, promote some gun-education classes, and then hope, as humans evolve, they will see what damage they do to each other, to civil society, with guns. If that happens, then maybe, the kids will be, if not alright, then a bit safer.
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