October 2015

 Of course, everybody knows by now that we had another shooting  massacre here in Oregon, down at Roseburg. It has been well covered (in fact, is still being covered) on the local news, the national news, and even the international news. The "social media" have also had their usual field day with it, with such cogent and penetrating "tweets" as "How horrible!," "That's sad!, " and "I'll be praying for you."

  The President immediately took a lot of heat because he "got political," and suggested we should be doing something to prevent these types of incidents from occurring: read, "gun control." I heard two different politicians say on the day after the murders that firearms regulation wasn't necessary because these kinds of incidents don't really have anything to do with guns. The issue is crazy people who happen to get access to guns. One of the speakers pretty much said that we couldn't ever get rid of the threat of this kind of event because (like the Bible says about the poor) crazy people will always be with us. (On his television show, George Stephanopoulos suggested to one interviewee that every nation has their share of crazy people, but only the United States [You know, the country with all the guns] has regular mass murders. The interviewee chose to talk about something else.)

   Most of those who want to make the problem crazy people, not guns, are not quite as pessimistic as the Stephanopoulos guest. Many are on record as favoring (at least, as a talking point) some kind of "background check" to weed out the nut cases when they try to purchase guns. Every time this comes up as a deterrent to mass murder in schools, theaters, and shopping malls, my mind responds with the same objections:

(1) Most of these killers are not "crazy" until after the fact. Most haven't been in psychiatric care, or been diagnosed as mentally "dangerous." After the incident, people remember them as "moody," "antisocial," "loners:" guess what, a large proportion of Americans are dissatisfied with their lives, feel hopeless, take drugs (prescription and otherwise) to treat their depression, occasionally act irrationally, or otherwise exhibit behavior that might seem a threat to themselves or the community. Which ones would pass or fail a mental health "background check?"

   (2) Most of these killers are not known criminals, gang members, or any of those other millions of Americans who are likely to kill or maim us innocent victims during robberies, gang turf wars, random drive-bys, or road rage incidents. I think almost everybody agrees that there are already so many guns available in this country that "background checks" won't deter any person who really wants a gun.

    (3) Most of these killers do not buy their own guns; they "borrow" them from parents, other relatives, friends... The nuttiest fruitcake in the batch is unlikely to ever be subject to a "background check."

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Really, all the talk about background checks is just an excuse not to talk about the real problem: the  almost unlimited access to the kinds of firearms that have the potential to be "weapons of mass destruction." I limit the problem to the availability of weapons with the ability to fire large amounts of ammunition in a few moments, because it's absolutely pointless, and fruitless, to try to debate "gun control" in the United States. We, as a people, are proud of our self-created legend of the Rugged American who with his (and nowadays, her) gun will keep family safe, shoot stuff (not many Indians to shoot, anymore, but lots of wild critters), and - most important - be ready to defend against a Corrupt Government coming to take away those same guns. To continue to perpetuate this myth, we've collectively decided as The American Public that it is okay that every time I and millions like me leave our homes the chances get better and better that we will become  the  completely innocent victims of some gun crime, or some stupid mishandling of a firearm by one of our neighbors. Collateral damage. Stuff happens.

   Tell me, would it really be so UnAmerican to ban public sale of those types of firearms capable of killing 50 people in 45 seconds? You could still kill a lot of intruders with your standard pistols, rifles and shotguns. You could still kill lots of ducks, deer, bears, wolves, and miscellaneous vermin. You could still look tough with a sidearm conspicuously displayed on your belt. Hey, if you did want to murder a bunch of innocent students or theater goers, you could still do pretty well with just your standard stuff - maybe not quite as many dead and wounded before you were shot or you shot yourself, but still a pretty good count. It looks to me that the only ones really inconvenienced would be the gun manufacturers (and I suspect they would still do just fine).

   In the United States, there will never be a shortage of guns and the "crazy people" to use them. Still, rather than wasting our time (and breath) on trying to mandate pointless "background checks," wouldn't it be some kind of essentially painless victory to say that we had at least limited the magnitude of future massacres by gunfire?

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I started off mentioning  the mostly inane "social media" comments prompted by this mass murder event.  One "tweet" did stand out for me, however. It read something like, "I felt so awful when I heard, I thought I was going to vomit."  I don't know if the "tweeter" really did vomit, just felt like she could, or was just emoting. In any case, she expressed a stronger emotion than I heard from anyone with any ability to lessen the chances of similar future events. That makes me want to vomit.




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