Ah, guns. We have a bittersweet joke at the Jackson Free Press: If we feel like piling up a few more page views, we can just do a gun story or a blog post. All we have to do is mention guns, or God forbid criticize any form of the precious instrument, and the gun aficionados come out of the woodwork. They troll, yell, sputter, moan and even freak out if you call a "semi-automatic" weapon an "automatic" one (although gun makers do, too).
They get personal, and ugly, and really, really angry, and they call us names. They wail at any attempt just to discuss potential gun regulation on behalf of public safety, immediately jumping to the conclusion that we want to take all their guns. And most remarkably to me, they come up with some of the most illogical analogies one can imagine--the kind that I would have flunked out of logic class at Mississippi State for floating.
So, so ... if people didn't have guns, they'd use cars or buses or airplanes as deadly weapons, they spout. You know, like on Sept. 11, 2001!
Yes, we-the-logical respond, and we vastly regulated everything to do with air travel after 9/11. Cars and buses are already saddled with massive safety regulations.
But, but ... the framers didn't mean the Second Amendment to allow any sort of regulation of any "arm" whatsoever, not even for safety reasons! Don't touch my guns!
No, we point out. Even the First Amendment is limited in cases of libel and yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater. And if you look closely, the word "regulated" is firmly ensconced in the Second Amendment. And the right to "bear arms" already doesn't mean any damn arm you want to stockpile and play war with on the weekends.
Or , or... on the same day as Newtown, a man in China attacked a group of kids with a knife in a mass attack, too!
Yes, we respond, and none of those children died. It was bad, but not deadly.
Children dying is why we want to have this conversation that this brand of gun geek really doesn't want us to have. In other words, these folks want to deny our First Amendment rights to talk about their Second Amendment ones. Not logical.
But we're going to talk about guns in America, anyway, and we have to stop bowing down in front of the powerful gun lobby that exists to help gun corporations sell more guns. If we don't, it means we are bought and owned by a large, dangerous industry.
Does having that conversation, or enacting smarter gun regulations, mean we want to stop all hunting or take weapons of self-defense away from everyone? Of course not. That's absurd, and I personally don't know anyone who is supporting that.
Here's where the rubber--like on all those cars that are more regulated than guns, by the way--meets the road. Too many adults and children, and suicidal Americans, are dying because they have too easy access to too many weapons. The country that supported a war in Iraq over a lie about weapons of mass destruction are actually confronted with real WMD right here and now. Whatever you want to call them--mostly automatic, too automatic, somewhat automatic, deliciously automatic, mine's-bigger-than-yours automatic--the U.S. is inundated with guns that make it easy, and rather romantic, for a mentally disturbed person to act out his videogame fantasies in a theater or synogogue or school full of innocent victims. They make it easy to kill many very quickly.
The fact that a gun can and is sometimes actually used for self-defense--as the Twitter trolls love to point out--is beside the point. You can still have a gun for self-defense, but you don't need to shoot up your damn neighborhood with an AR-15 to run the robber off your property. What we're talking about here are delusions of grandeur and bloodlust. And too many people end up using those crazy guns to act it out.
Here's the thing: You can love guns and still be part of a serious conversation about them. If you also love children, it is incumbent on you to decide to be part of the solution. The gun lobby has become too strong, too strident and a bit insane. They seem to want us to turn against each other and assume that our government is coming to get us. (And I assure you that, should they, these AR-15 hobbyists aren't going to protect us.)
Countries and states with more gun control are less violent. We all know it is easiest, and quickest, to commit a mass killing with one of these weapons. (Ask that guy in China.) The question now is what kind of nation do we want to be? Do we want to follow the lead of people who profit off our distrusting "the other" and arming ourselves against them? Do we want to continue being the state that provides huge numbers of guns used in violence in Chicago? Do we want to assume that we solve violence with violence?
The same people who argue those things look and act like they're afraid of their shadows. You can watch them on talk shows and see it all over their faces. They have no problem with the gun industry flooding our poorest communities with huge numbers of guns, which they damn well know will be used in crimes. They seem to want to play war games with "the other."
But even many NRA members know that it doesn't make sense to have no regulations or restrictions on what guns we can have--or, more importantly, that gun makers can make and market to civilians.
The point of gun regulation, ultimately, is not to keep any gun crime from happening whatsoever (even though we can wish); it is to reduce the supply of weapons and the incentive for the gun industry to profit off elementary kids being blown to bits with guns designed to blow people to bits.
Meantime, not only is the NRA owned by the gun industry; so are the politicians it funds. Right now, we have state leaders who are drooling all over themselves (looking at you, Tate Reeves and Phil Bryant) to be the elected pawns of the corporate gun industry. These men are showing no interest in making your children safer. And the absurd idea to arm schools more? That would work out about as well as Haley Barbour's pardons: It might seem like a good idea until a pardonee goes and kills someone, as one allegedly did last week. Imagine being the lawmaker who pushed for that lunacy when an armed teacher shoots and kills an innocent child.
Armed school officials do not stop school shootings--including right here in Pearl. Yes, an assistant principal went after the shooter when he was leaving with a gun, but well after he had sowed the destruction that his guns empowered him to mete out. If the shooters don't kill themselves, someone often gets to them after the rampage: No, trolls, that is not preventing a shooting.
Not to mention, since Republicans expired the assault weapons ban, we're seeing gun inflation even among the mass shooters. They are covering themselves with badass-looking guns and magazines because they can easily buy them at places like Walmart. Thank you, gun industry.
It is time we talk back--in honor of every child and teacher who died at Newtown and every other victim of gun violence and suicide. We can change this, leaving the Second Amendment fully intact. We must.