Here we go again with
Mickey Mouse and Rin-Tin-Tin
--Old Army Cadence Call
I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you
--Crazy, Patsy Cline
No escape from the mass mind rape
Play it again jack and then rewind the tape
And then play it again and again and again
Until your mind is locked in
--Bullet in the Head,
Rage Against the Machine
Is gun control a real life issue or just another hot-button topic used by both parties to keep We the People in a constant state of emotional upheaval? The issue serves to polarize and harden the plaque in our partisan arteries, without demandingd any rigorous proof which might substantiate the taking of one side over the other.
Meanwhile, our national "debate" hinges on the straw man argument: You are for gun control, or you are for unfettered Wild West violence. Good, compassionate limp-wristed liberals vs. insane, gun-toting bloodthirsty tea baggers. Only, the reality is not so facile. Who speaks for common sense today?
Let us use the figure of 30,000 annual gun homicides in the United States (this figure includes justifiable use of firearms). 30K is a lot of dead people, but so what? Dead folks are helpful to society in many different ways; in fact, they are essential lest we deplete our raw resources. Requiescat In Pace.
Why do we get crazy about gun deaths but barely raise a whisper about the approximately 100,000 annual U.S. deaths due to wrongly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs and drug reactions and interactions? There is one death (accidental or intentional) every 24 minutes in the U.S. due to drugs found in our own medicine cabinets; 61 deaths per day, on average, or 22,265 deaths per year. How do you legislate drug safety?
Good liberals decry the gun lobby and take easy pot shots at those who embrace their guns, but a far bigger and more nefarious lobby is that of Big Pharma, whose products will kill every one of us far more efficiently and in larger numbers than will guns any day of the week. Insidiously, too.
If gun deaths are unacceptable, then so too are prescription drug deaths, or tobacco-related deaths, or alcohol-related deaths. We tried to legislate the latter with the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act but found out that our citizens have a remarkable facility for circumventing the law. Banning things rarely works in a free society, though legislation may. The caveat is that a free society must sign on to the strictures. We abide by a Bill of Rights which accords us the right to weapons ownership.
The issue comes down to power and control of our lives. Are we a liberal or a conservative society? Is the Federal government allowed or legally able to force background checks and then to use these as investigative and intelligence tools? Why and how can the government use private legal purchase of firearms to establish a national database for firearms purchasers? Further, is such a warrantless intrusion into our rights of privacy and ownership consistent with what we are as Americans?
Why do we have a Fourth Amendment? We should get clear on this when discussing Second Amendment infringements.
Guns look scary and go "BOOM!", and when used destructively, the results can be spectacular. Because it is a simple, discrete item, it is easy to focus on. We are susceptible to being riled up by the press and our leaders like marionette puppets chittering on about the latest train wreck dujour, whether personal or political (or best -- a combination of both). Yet we ignore the many other forms of death which stalk us every day of our lives, some of which may be as easily legislated as gun ownership and may be more productive in terms of protection.
It seems that we have an unspoken covenant that condones certain methods of self-destruction, while opposing gun violence. But why is the death wrought at the end of a gun any different from that caused by any number of other mundane modalities?
What are willing to swallow? At the current mortality rate from prescription drugs, we have more dead bodies stacked up every 11 days than we do victims of all spree shootings since 1980. Where is our sense of perspective? All of this death without one extended magazine or assault rifle.
Guns are viewed as symbols of freedom by many Americans. In fact, we would not have our nation had the citizens not owned firearms; it was not via mediation that the Brits decided to leave us to our own devices.
We are also a nation of death, and one form is as serviceable as the next.