Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Annie (Andy) Git Yer Gun!

I’ve always wondered why the NRA backs Republicans for political office. Every time a Democrat wins the Presidency – or is re-elected – gun sales increase dramatically and dealers can hardly keep enough ammunition on hand to meet demand. It would seem to be in the interests of the NRA and gun suppliers to support Democrats and rake in the profits.

The stories in the media the days after Barack Obama was re-elected, are the same as they were four years ago when he was elected to his first term; the same as they were each time Bill Clinton was elected. Sturdy looking men are shown on TV adding more rifles and handguns to the ones they already have, on the assumption that the government will soon be coming around to take away “our” guns.

I know – the motivation is fear. Anyone who listens to Fox News or conservative radio knows how nefarious the President is, and how all-powerful, too. Why, in an instant he could, as Commander-in-Chief, send the Black Hawk helicopters into our neighborhoods and confiscate our hunting rifles, pistols, and sub-machine guns, leaving us defenseless. Only those quick enough to throw their arsenal in the bed of their pickup truck and head for the hills will survive to fight back and restore our great land to its Christian traditions.

That seems to be the idea. Although it is beyond my understanding why Bill Clinton, and then Barack Obama allowed three terms of the Presidency to pass without mounting that assault on our Constitutional right to arm ourselves to the teeth. I’m sure someone can tell me; Clinton and Obama – cunning creatures that they are – are very likely waiting for the correct moment when Al Qaeda will be strong enough to step in and take over the reins of government. That tragic moment may not even come during Obama’s second term but it is sure to come. That’s how I’ve got it figured out, at least.

But I may be wrong. What we are seeing may be much simpler and less sinister. It may just be that those sturdy macho, gun-lovin’ men we see at the sporting goods store, stripping the shelves of guns and ammo, are really just pussy cats; macho men in public but wimps at home. They’d like to add another dozen guns to their collection but Ma doesn’t see the sense in it. So they tell her they need more guns to protect her and the kids from that sinister alien man in the White House. “Well, now,” Ma says, “If that’s the reason, then buy an extra dozen.”

Of course we know the real reason for the buying frenzy; common corporate greed. There are millions upon millions of dollars to be made, making and selling guns and ammunition. And there are plenty of people who, for some reason or other, are susceptible to the fear mongering of the National Rifle Association and the manufacturers whose dollars support the organization and pay for the campaign of misinformation against the government. And there are the Prophets of Coming Doom who, for money, or for the sheer joy of spreading lies, feed into the fears of trigger happy Americans.

It is probably true that most Americans, like me, do not own a single gun. And it is also probably true that most who do own guns would never willingly (plan-fully) use their weapons against the government or their neighbors. But it is also true that more Americans die of gunshot wounds in this country each year than have died in our last two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put together. Some of those deaths are due to tragic accidental shootings but many more murders are committed in anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in the commission of a crime, during riots or drug warfare, by urban gangs, or in other well-planned situations.

Or even consider the situation in a Milwaukee Aldi’s store last year. A customer bearing a concealed weapon discovered that an armed robbery was occurring in the checkout line. After attempting to use his weapon and discovering that the safety was on (thankfully) he fumbled until he got it off and fired off more than a half-dozen shots, only one of which slightly wounded the robber. Thankfully (again) the other shots found no humans to injure although each had the potential of killing someone.

There are reasonable things that can be done to reduce senseless killing. They do not have to infringe upon the “rights” of responsible Americans to own and use guns for legitimate purposes. But they won’t be done as long as the NRA and its supporters continue to fuel the fears of a significant minority who insist on believing that the government – particularly during Democratic administrations – is out to get us.

Am I afraid that the government is plotting to take away my vital freedoms? Not really. Am I afraid that some trigger happy customer in a Aldi’s store will shoot me in the back using his concealed weapon in an attempt to stop an armed robbery? Not really. But if I had to bet on going one way or the other I’d bet that the chances are greater that I’ll go with a vigilante bullet in my back long before Bill Clinton or Barack Obama figure out a way to get me.

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