After my first letter to the local paper on gun violence, there were numerous responses. Unrelated to my own letter, the editor of the paper authored an editorial that I refer to in the opening of the following post. Mr. Chapman was one of the people that responded to me. Most were defending the NRA leadership positions to various degrees, while people who agreed with me, sought me out to tell me in person. They are reluctant to speak out publicly. So the following post was my response to their arguments. I did not choose the title, but it tied into the editorial I was responding to.
Robin Delaney's rant, "Tell Biden, It's Mental Illness, Stupid" was not without merit, but was nevertheless dishonest and illustrative of how to sabotage intelligent debate by speaking in absolutes.
Consider this paragraph by Ms. Delaney: "Believe me, if I truly believed a gun-free world would prevent another child from being laid to rest, I'd throw the U.S. Constitution out the window in a heartbeat and say 'Go for it.'"
Neither Vice-President Biden, nor President Obama, is in the least, interested in creating a "gun-free world," nor are they advocating "throwing the U.S. Constitution out the window." So why do so many people talk like this? It's dishonest, misleading and counterproductive. I suppose it is because, like Clint Eastwood speaking to an empty chair, they prefer debating an imaginary Obama upon which they can ascribe whatever opinions and motivation suit their purpose. People don't read too carefully anyway. They will likely believe these accusations about the President. After all, they believed Fox News when it claimed Romney was going to win the presidential election.
Michael Chapman wants to limit what I say. I thought the sharing and discussion of ideas was an integral part of civics. To be fearful of the sharing of diverse points of view in a public forum seems silly. I would ask Mr. Chapman what the phrase "well regulated" means to him. Is your inconvenience at having to reload your gun worth sacrificing the lives of children?
No one is talking about taking away your right to own guns. That sort of knee-jerk response is neither honest nor constructive to forming a reasonable policy that both protects the Second Amendment rights and the safety of the people. The country was still free when Ronald Reagan banned assault weapons. It will also be free when universal background checks are instituted. I want responsible gun ownership because I want to protect my family, neighbors and state.
The idea of limiting magazine clips and assault rifles is to afford the troubled and the malevolent less efficient tools with which to murder our children and our citizens. It is a safe bet that if Jared Loughner had come at Rep. Gabby Giffords with an ice pick instead of guns with extended clips, the carnage would have been greatly reduced and little nine year-old Christina Taylor-Greene would very well be alive right now.
Ice picks are not fetishized like guns. Consider a recent headline: "5 People Shot at 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day." Two of these people were shot at the show's "safety check-in booth." An armed security officer at a Michigan charter school accidentally left his gun in a restroom that is regularly used by students as young as five years old. None of these people were supposedly "mentally ill," just careless or stupid.
Therein lies the problem. More guns mean more morons with guns, which means more accidents with guns, which means more injuries and deaths from guns. Not because people are mentally ill, but because they are careless, easily distracted, impulsive, irrational, annoyed and, last but not least, stupid.
Then there is that whole class of folks who believe the rules simply don't apply to them. Riverview Park has a rule that all dogs must be on a leash. Want to guess the percentage compliance with that rule? People blow through stop signs every day in this town because they are talking on their cell phones or, even worse texting and driving. At least they had to register their car and take a test proving they know how to drive before being issued a license to do so. There is no required registration for guns though. No universal background checks for firearms yet, even though 91 percent of the public and 87 percent of Republicans think it's a good idea.
People used to board passenger trains completely unaware that there was a chance that the engineer running the train was so drunk that he had to be helped into the cab of the locomotive. Now there are rules that prohibit that from happening. Some people are idiots. They are not mentally ill. Give them assault rifles and they turn into idiots with assault rifles. Soldiers should have and use these weapons in the theater of war. They don't belong on our city streets, or under your bed, or in your hallway closet.
Change is coming sooner or later. People won't stand by while their children are gunned down. Unfortunately, gun violence is coming to a town near you as well. It's just a matter of time. What is required is less competition and demagoguery and more cooperation and real listening between stakeholders--which, by the way, is all of us.
Common sense solutions are what the Obama administration is proposing. Joe Biden talked to all the stakeholders, including the NRA. The NRA took a page from the Republican playbook and chose reactionary obstruction. We all know how that worked out for the Republicans this last election. If you are truly interested in protecting children, you'll be supporting the administration's proposals for addressing mental health services, universal background checks, closing gun show loopholes, harsher penalties for straw purchasers, gun trafficking, gun violence, and the like. You surely don't try to cloud the issue by arguing against positions that no one is proposing or advocating. That's just slimy.