Guns N' Moses
The Bible is not my thing. There's a passage in Exodus that sums up why. Moses says to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" And then God says to Moses, "I am who I am."
And there you have it. God is who he is, so back off.
God subsequently commands Moses to collude in a bloodthirsty beatdown of the Egyptians - innocent babies, children and animals sliced and diced like a summer salad. God was mad as hell and He wasn't going to take it anymore. Therefore, Moses didn't have much of a choice. It was either saddle up or suffer the wrath.
And there you have a sweet little snapshot of God; an action hero so bad-ass, it's no small wonder why 83% of Americans are madly in love with his theater. After all, this is The United States of Let's Mess Shit Up.
The thing is, burning bushes, parting seas, and disbursing the plague are so B.C. Carrying out today's dirty deeds requires a today kind of firepower. Lucky for us, we have just the thing; a surrogate whose name also happens to be three letters long beginning with "G" and whose devotion continues on in churches, schools, national parks, naval yards and neighborhoods far and wide. We're taking about... cue celestial horns... the almighty GUN.
For Americans, "Gun" is a proper noun. It's about as close to God as it gets. AR15s, AK47s, UZIs, M1911s, Model 10s, Wingmasters, Glocks... the list of our favorite firearm friends goes on and on like Lindsay Lohan's rehab. Guns sell boatloads of movie tickets, boost CNN's ratings (if that's even possible) and breed the insanity we love to ignore.
Case in point. There once was a dude with gray matter as glorious as his peppery coiffure. He imparted mass energy equivalence, the cosmological constant, quantum physics, and lots of other goodies way beyond our pay grade. He also offered a byte far more fathomable for us common folk when he said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Sadly, Mr. Einstein's communiqué did not take into consideration the Great Wall of Stupid that surrounds Capitol Hill. In fact, folks up there wouldn't recognize wisdom if it ran round and round the Rotunda belting out The Barber of Seville, buck naked while guzzling bourbon from Trump's self-tanning bottles.
Evidence of said fetish is as clear as Anthony Weiner's selfies. And this is precisely why every American politician who continues to stonewall support for lock, stock and barrel gun reform is an improvident, inchoate, gutless chimp.
POLITICIAN EXCUSE #1: "Well, you know, those damn video games with all those damn guns... it's just a damn disaster waiting to happen."
Yet putting actual automatic weapons in the hands of the previously jailed or troubled is perfectly politic, but Playstation is summer camp for future terrorists?
POLITICIAN EXCUSE #2: "Well, you know, I have the Constitutional right to defend myself should a burglar come for my Rolex collection, passwords to offshore accounts and gold-plated fly-fishing rods."
There are roughly 100 burglary-homicides every year in the U.S. Compare that to 12,000 total gun-related homicides and 19,000 gun-related suicides every year. (Roughly 1% and .05% respectively.)
POLITICIAN EXCUSE #3: "I like to hunt."
I know a bear that feels the same way. You two should hook up.
So just how cracked is this country? It's like that old AT&T Wireless commercial in which a grown up host sits around a tiny table with kiddies whom he asks for the biggest number they can think of. One little girl astutely says, "Infinity plus one." The host callously trumps her with, "Sorry, the correct answer is infinity plus infinity." However, another little girl triumphantly retorts, "What about infinity TIMES infinity?" And there you have it. That's about how cracked we are.
Nucla, Colorado, population 695. Nucla's Council passed the first and only municipal ordinance in Colorado that REQUIRES heads of households to have guns and ammunition "in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the town and its inhabitants." Perhaps they passed the ordinance to protect themselves against America's jobless desperados looking to poach Nucla's pool of prized jobs, such as clerk at the local Piggly Wiggly or tour guide at Cottonwood Cave.
Truth is, such precedent was set long before Nucla. In 1982, the Kennesaw, Georgia City Council unanimously passed a law requiring heads of households to own at least one firearm with ammunition. The ordinance was enacted to "protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants." (Sound familiar?) Turns out, the ordinance was actually a knee-jerk reaction to a law passed by Morton Grove, Ill., outlawing guns within city limits. Kennesaw council members became so pissy about the attention being paid to Morton Grove that they decided to do one better. As the Marietta Daily Journal reported, "They figured the gun ownership ordinance would knock that city right off the front pages. And they were right."
Nelson, Georgia passed a similar ordinance. Though facing a lawsuit from the Brady Center, they saddled their bravado, holstered their guns, and got back to the business of... come to think of it, there is no business in Nelson, population 1,300, just one of whom is a police officer.
Towns from Maine to Utah continue to consider such mandates to keep the boogeyman at bay. And how can we forget the blind Iowans permitted to own guns. The rapists permitted to own guns. The mentally ill permitted to own guns. And Dick Cheney permitted to own guns.
Just in case you're thinking that the U.S. is not far afield from the rest of the world when it comes to its bromance with guns, let's take a closer look.
In Serbia, there are 58 guns per 100 residents. There are 7.2 million Serbians, so that's a lot of damn guns for a small-ish republic. But is it exceptional? After all, there's really only one place on earth that eats, drinks and sleeps exceptionalism.
Remember how Michael Jackson used to proudly grab his exceptional balls with his exceptional diamond-studded glove and thrust his exceptional pelvis into the face of, well, everyone. That's precisely how America feels about anyone who messes with its exceptional addiction to guns. And here's the proof. In the United States of America, there are 101 guns per 100 residents. So, suck on that exceptionalism.
But what's most gut-busting about all of the American gun-lover John Wayne bluster is the fact that such folks actually believe guns make them safer.
Let's be perfectly clear. Guns do not make you safer.
The venerable American Journal of Medicine published extensive research with the resounding conclusion that "the gun ownership rate was a strong and independent predictor of firearm-related death." Quick case in point: "The US, with the most guns per capita in the world, has the highest rate of deaths from firearms, while Japan, which has the lowest rate of gun ownership, has the least."
Hmm, how peculiar.
But again, this is America. And because we are exceptional, we take exception to facts and logic. Hey, how about that former exceptional President who said so, over and over again. For example, when such professorial pitchman schools us wee folk about our need to teach Assad a valuable lesson. He maintained that America is "the anchor of global security" with a heavy "burden of leadership" that has made the world a "better place". Obama's words are like melted butter on a French baguette. Just makes you wanna go shoot things, doesn't it?
And boy is America damn good at that. In fact, that's how we became Americans in the first place.
The Battles of Lexington and Concord, April 1775. Revere's much-poeticized ride symbolized a march toward independence. 25,000 patriots died to liberate this nation, and thus, this nation is forever indebted to such legacy.
In pursuit of such liberty, however, we must also remember the full scope of our path, not just that which fuels our conceit. In fact, our Native American brethren likely perceive this scope quite differently. Perhaps its best summed by the word "genocide." Whether poisoning them with the plague, slaughtering them by rifle, cannon or bayonet for simply being in the way, or enacting policies that pirated their well-being, the North American Indian population was estimated at 12 million in 1500, and under 250,000 in 1900.
This is but one incarnation of a country historically and roundly addicted to violent crusades. In fact, the U.S. has been immersed in roughly 100 such crusades (truly even more than that) here and abroad since self-liberating nearly 240 years ago. Boiled down, such mania has left in its wake 800 U.S. military bases in nearly 70 countries, and by way of you and me, costs upwards of $200 billion per year to sustain.
$200 billion per year. If only we could invest that same amount in the war on poverty over the next few years, we just might win one for a change.
And speaking of wars right here at home...
Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Oakland Elementary. Cleveland Elementary. Chardon High School. Appalachian School of Law. Bath School. University of Texas. Oikos University. USC. UCLA Santa Barbara. Umpqua Community College. Westside Middle School. Northern Illinois University. West Nickel Mines School. Mesa School. University of Iowa. Thurston High School. Marysville Pilchuck High School. Olean High School. Pearl High School. Health High School. Frontier Middle School. Hazard Community and Technical College. Bard College. Jiudian School. Costa Mesa School. Santee School. Stockton Schoolyard. L.A. Elementary. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Utter these words aloud, and you will be reminded that they are no longer monikers for institutions of learning. Instead, they are the bullet-riddled brand names for monumental madness. Not the madness delivered by the trigger-men, but the madness inherent in our will to assist-by-denial such domestic disorder.
There is nothing unpredictable about our propensity for accommodating, inflicting, and wink-winking away gun violence.
Perhaps school kids should, in fact, have gun permits. This way they can shoot the bad guy when he storms in during story time. Come to think of it, instead of story time, let's mandate gun tutorials for toddlers. Let's replace playgrounds with shooting ranges, school uniforms with flak jackets. And for God's sake, let's get prayer back into schools to pray that evil away.
From one corner of the nation to another, our little ones sit in classrooms drawing pictures of rainbows, learning the clarinet or hearing the name "Einstein" for the very first time. Perhaps its best if we quash their dreams before their heels are too dug in. Perhaps their principals should interrupt with this intercom pronouncement: "Good morning, students. In conjunction with the National Rifle Association, we are pleased to announce that you are hereby expendable. So, good luck today and have fun while you can."
Most Americans favor tighter gun control laws. So, what is it going to take to pry the NRA out of D.C.'s ass? Sadly enough, the answer is that nothing will change the current climate; not even if a school under siege is solely populated by the progeny of Senators and Congressmen. In fact, that fuels the inferno, regardless of what momentum we currently think we have post-Parkland.
Such inanity was squarely present in a video of Gabby Giffords preposterously launching her gun control campaign by shooting at a firing range. Campaign message: it's OK to love you some guns, but please, please, please don't open fire at a strip mall.
The only way to fracture the lunacy is to embrace a fantasy. So let's indulge exactly that for just a moment. With the exception of U.S. military and safety services, what if every single one of our guns were to go bye-bye, right now? How many babies, mothers, fathers, grandparents could survive this day?
The answer is about 75. 75 today. 75 tomorrow. 75 the next day. And the next day. And the day after that. 75 lives saved. Not bleeding out in some alley or bedroom or office cube or playground.
Gun proponents argue that gun homicides have actually declined over the last 20 years. Partly true. As Yahoo News reported, this decline might have been due to an economic boom (from the 90s to early 2000s), or the Assault Weapons Ban (repealed in 2004), or a massive increase in incarceration. Sadly but predictably, the bloody tide has washed ashore again, actually since 2008. And the overriding truth remains self-evident: we are and will always be the most gun-addicted, homicide/suicide-addled nation on earth.
It's not about gun culture per se. It's about the goon culture, the macho messiah model that runs roughshod in America. "Woo-hoo, I blasted a paper target with an assault rifle... Woo-hoo, I shot a buck in the eyeball... Woo-hoo, my gun is bigger than your gun." Boiled down, it's all so embarrassingly infantile. You can't quite yet smoke pot wherever, whenever you wish, but feel free to take your Glock to McDonald's in case that Happy Meal is undercooked.
Guns don't make people tough. Plain old guts do. It takes more guts to shun guns than it does to own them. It takes more guts to stand up to the NRA's goon squad with one's voice and one's vote than it does to cower under their thuggish, thieving threats. The NRA is a colossal napoleon complex. A disease that demands a cure. And we have that cure at the ready.
Shooting Tracker has a running tally of mass killings. Take a look - it'll keep you up tonight. Since 2006, the U.S. has had about 250 such massacres leaving approximately 1,200 dead. The good news for gun makers is that this kind of murderous violence is a foolproof sales stimulant. MSN Money reported that there were 8.5 million background checks in 2006, 16.4 million in 2011, 19.6 million in 2012 and another 23 million in 2013. Things slowed some in 2014 and 2015. Probably because gun factory assemblers wanted to shoot themselves over how hard they were being worked.
With the exception of three years, The United States of America has hosted a firearms-fueled mass murder every year for the past 30 years.
One thing is for sure. Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people.