The Fallacy of ‘Gun Appreciation Day’

Times and nations change. It’s 2013, not 1776. We don’t have bands of ‘angry Indians’ cresting the hill with feathers, war paint, and bows and arrows, wanting their land back. We broke our treaties and screwed them a couple of centuries back. The South will not “rise again” to get America back for the so-called “War of Northern Aggression.”  We’re still free.

More than once, this nation has legislated and enacted firearms-restrictive legislation. A period of gangster violence eighty years ago resulted in the enactment of the National Firearms Act of 1934. The NFA restricted, rather than banned, your ability to own a submachine gun, sawed off shotgun, as well as certain other weapons. The statute has withstood Supreme Court review, which ruled several decades ago that some guy in Arkansas could constitutionally have his firearm whims regulated in the interest of public safety for the Rest Of Us.

The turbulent 1960s saw two Kennedys, one a sitting President, and the other, a U.S. Senator running for President, gunned down. If it wasn’t so ridiculously tasteless, the gun crowd now wants to celebrate “Gun Appreciation Day” in the same holiday weekend as the day we reflect upon the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. A shocked and outraged nation enacted the Gun Control Act of 1968 after this trio of senseless assassinations. The law still stands, replete with dangerous, yet profitable (for them), gun lobby loopholes.  We just buried twenty little children from one shooting in the last month.

Yes, I have owned firearms. As a naval officer, I was also personally accountable for pistols in my safe.  There’s a primarily guy geek chic in a precision-made firearm. That said, somehow “precision” and the Chinese, Russian, or ex-Eastern Bloc-made AK family of assault rifles make for rather contradictory bedfellows.  After the rush of a big flash and bang, one realizes that the very real sport of competitive target shooting is a much more challenging activity.  I got over the allure of flash and bang. Your mileage may vary.

Nobody is likely to use an Olympic match target rifle or pistol to shoot up a school, or stick-up a 7-Eleven.  The rangemaster at the NRA range takes a dim view of reckless Wyatt Earps there.

There are almost as many firearms in circulation as there are inhabitants in this country.   In a gun control battle too often fought from the extreme fringes, some controls are necessary in 21st Century America. Even a Right-wing ideologue such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opined in Heller, that while there is a Second Amendment “Right to bear arms,” our elected representatives can constitutionally restrict the types of firearms one may possess.

NOBODY is coming to “confiscate” your guns, en masse. There are no “black helicopters from the United Nations” hovering over your neighborhood. We can, and should, maintain the government’s duty to foster a safer society.

Despite the gun lobby’s rather lucrative efforts to neuter gun laws and the agency charged with enforcing them, there has been a clarion call for change. Bullet-riddled six and seven year old school children in Connecticut are but the latest outrage. The NRA’s lame answer of “more guns” was about as ridiculous as Wayne Lapierre’s minders watching a press conference crowd for weapons while the gun industry’s shill chanted the party line.

A 30 or more round magazine might look rather Rambo-fashionable, but the latest string of massacres enabled someone who shouldn’t have had access to a .22 single shot rifle, much less high-capacity magazines, to mow down scores of innocent civilian men, women, and children. Even Sarah Palin wasn’t that bad of a shot hunting a caribou for cable TV. That Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle might come in handy in a SEAL team’s kit, but it’s overkill for a civilized society. The Barrett is nicely profitable for a NRA board member’s family.

We all share this society, like it or not. It is time for reasonable, meaningful regulation of firearms.  The OK Corral fallacy of NRA “firearms freedom” wasn’t worth one of those innocent six year olds murdered in Connecticut. Do we blindly wait for the Montessori Pre-School Massacre?