Sunday, June 1, 2014

Confronting America's Gun Obession

As a result of the Isla Vista massacre, many gun control advocates are predictably blaming the  National Rifle Association  for at least an indirect role in this nightmare.  But I think that the NRA (which weapons manufacturers now likewise support)  and the gun lobby as a whole are not so much the cause of such violence but are rather the result of a destructive flaw in the American character. How else could the gun nuts flourish in the U.S, the way that they do unlike in other Western industrialized countries? As an example one such fanatic,  political icon Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher,  publicly commented that the dead kids of the Sandy Hook mass murder don't trump his constitutional rights. How could anyone  with an ounce of decency so shamelessly make such a remark? Evidently his obsession with firearms crushes any respect that he may have ever had for humanity. And his type appears to be more the rule than the exception among the pro-gun crowd, the very mention of whom seems to cause the typical vote-seeking politician to cringe in fear for his /her  job if  (s)he is even perceived as favoring gun control legislation. Yet why wasn't the grievous wounding a member of Congress,  Rep. Gabriella Gifford, in a 2011 shooting rampage enough to make elected officials angry enough to finally say "enough, already"  especially considering  that she was also a legislator?

So what is it  that allowed the NRA and its ilk to mutate from their former role as supporters  for the right of Americans to own and properly use ordinary weapons such as hunting weapons, into a rabid political force that in the name of defending their rights  defeated a ban on personal possession of assault weapons?  One alibi that the gun lovers offer for such an interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is that the  right of the people to bear arms is a means of protection against a tyrannical government, especially one that might try to "take away their weapons".  But this doesn't wash simply because an attempted rebellion by these tinfoil-hat loonies would be crushed by the obviously superior firepower of U.S.military in a heartbeat. Perhaps their real motive is that they feel so personally inadequate that gun ownership gives them the feeling of strength and power that can't achieve on their own.

The previously mentioned cowardice of so many of our  leaders in the face of the gun lobby says more about them than it does about the organizations that are exercising this "persuasion". But these pro-gun groups do not intimidate the millions of American who despise their  goals of turning the country not just into a "wild West" but into a violent "gun-ocracy". Clearly, the NRA and their ilk have proven themselves to be such vociferous extremists that there's no point in continuing to try engaging them in polite debate on this matter.  Instead, we need to make our voices heard and our own political clout felt from the local to the federal level.

The main method by which the gun lobby has become so powerful  is by outspending their opponents in achieving their ambitions to control public policy. Enter former mayor of New York and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate  who has proposed using $50 million of his own wealth to push back against this imbalance.   In doing so he will fight fire with fire.  Then there is Richard Martinez, a father one of the Isla Vista victims who is also determined to take on the NRA. Yes, we've had false starts before following shooting sprees, but  maybe this will be the start of a new chapter in American history in which we will finally be able to bring sanity to our gun laws, take back the country from the gun freaks, and most importantly repair and transform our damaged culture into one that will no longer allow them to thrive.