by photo: AmberWatchAlert.org
by photo: AmberWatchAlert.org
If there's anything fairly consistent about the contorted, oxymoronic ignorance that forms the basis of the voodoo logic behind the hard right's anti-Obama hatred, it would be that the breadth of that ignorance is always breathtaking to behold. And cultural hot button issues such as gun control always seem to offer the most fascinating insights into the mindset of those who simply can't stand the president.
Case in point: the Republican National Convention last year where the president's critics both marveled over and went ape-sh*t at the sight of the giant national "debt clock" they'd hung from the Tampa Times Forum's rafters. Certainly it provided them with enormous joy stemming from its usefulness as a visual aid with which to buttress their loony-bin charges of "socialist" Obama's fiscal tyranny, but because it's also a king-sized reminder of the angst they claim to suffer over the nation's mounting debt, it also pisses them the hell off.
Can't really say that I feel their pain, but the apparent selflessness that's led to such heights of concern for their country's future also led to speculation on my part about how they'd react to the unveiling of a barometer of a different sort -- a national "death clock." How would they respond to the display of a real time, minute-by-minute, bullet-by-bullet rendering of each gun-related death of an American by other Americans?
My guess is that they'd use it for target practice.
In the 50 days subsequent to the December 14 Sandy Hook massacre, guns killed 1,280 Americans. That's 25.6 gun deaths per day or more than one per hour. It's a dreadful strain of nihilistic carnage that represents one of the many faces of so-called American exceptionalism. Certainly, it is not the norm for any other of the planet's non-Third World societies.
Note that it was stressed that guns, instead of people with guns, killed those 1,280 Americans. That's because if, as some have suggested, a solution to a problem must transcend the level of the problem, it's essential that the problem be identified with pinpoint accuracy. According to some, the problem is exposure to graphic gun violence on television, in movies and video games; along with gun owners who are unstable either mentally or emotionally. But, according to America's most notorious weapons fanatic, National Rifle Association big gun Wayne LePierre, the problem is so easily identified that even a caveman could spot it: "bad guys with guns."
However one chooses to view the problem, the most obvious common denominator is the involvement of guns. Were logic at play, one might presume that base level solutions would include closing the gun show loophole, intensified background checks, ammo limits, and a ban on certain types of gun ownership that extend to those with no history of mental or emotional instability. However, in the minds of hard core gun nuts and NRA leadership, the ultimate solution is quite the opposite: more of the stuff they like -- guns -- and a government crackdown on stuff the dislike; violent television, movies, and video games. And it's been made clear that anything further constitutes the work of "domestic enemies of the constitution and Second Amendment rights."
"They (Second Amendment rights) are God-given freedoms," insisted LaPierre to a gathering of hunters presenting awards to each other at a banquet this past January. "They belong to us in the United States of America as our birthright. No government gave them to us and no government can ever take them away."
Now that's fairly debatable; but truth be told, LaPierre and his brethren weapons fanatics have misfired their ire in attacking President Obama for proposing alternative solutions that gun nuts insist foreshadows a slippery slope that ends with the government confiscating all their weapons. The individual most responsible for energizing the president on gun control is Adam Lanza, who used his mom's legally-obtained assault weapons to shoot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School . Gun control wasn't high on Obama's second term to-do list until Lanza provided an opening that might not have been exploited by a Romney administration.
But good luck to the president. It's hard getting the concept of less guns across to the type of folks for whom the mere sight of a high-powered assault weapon provides the same dopamine-induced rush that a mega-hit of high quality crack cocaine provides to a narcotics fiend. Theirs' is a chemical dependency on naked firepower: The bigger the barrel; the better the rush. So it's probable that upon viewing something like a death clock the response from a gun nut would be: "What's the point?"
A point might be made about the country being caught up in a deadly catch-22; an entirely preventable causality loop of violence which is the sole result of the presence of guns in our society. The thousands of people that guns kill each year can't be seen as an unintended consequence of the free-market availability of legally-obtainable weapons. Guns are intended to kill. When the NRA fires off its hackneyed slogan: Guns don't kill; people with guns kill," it's like the ice cream man telling you that it's the spoon you're using not the ice cream on it that causes the weight gain that could eventually kill you. Like ice cream, guns are legal and readily available. Therefore people buy guns. Subsequently, people wind up getting killed by guns. Thus, for protection against guns, people buy more guns.
Against this reality -- and a backdrop of the spate of massacres that have occurred over the past few years -- the suggestion by LaPierre to simply have more armed "good guys" available in schools and other public places seems less like a solution than a suggestion that the nation become an armed camp. How would LaPierre suggest that nations handle a problems of suicide bombers; give the "good guys" their own suicide vests?
What tends to render LaPierre's "good guy vs. bad guy" theorem so fundamentally ass-backwards -- particularly as it applies to mass shooters -- is that many homicidal maniacs like Sandy Hook's Lanza or the Columbine duo of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold could care less if they go out in a blaze of glory. " Suicide by cop " is often the premeditated end game in mass shootings because many of those who enact the maniacal directives of their homicidal derangement often have suicidal tendencies. One 2010 study found that about 35 percent of mass murderers commit suicide while another found that 50 percent of rampage shootings end with the gunman killing himself. So anyone who imagines that most of these Bushmaster-pumping berserkers are looking to make a quick killing and a clean getaway -- as LaPierre seems to imply -- might want to consider re-examining that position.