In the immediate wake of the shootings at Newtown, CT, reasonable Americans had cause to hope, however briefly, that it might be the time to have a reasonable discussion about guns in this great country.
Unfortunately, even with the blood of children still wet on the floors, the very thought of a rational discussion proved too much for many leaders on the right. Alan Jones wanted to box Piers Morgan for suggesting that guns actually killed people. Rush Limbaugh and the frauds at Fox News got worked up, not because children were slaughtered, but because President Obama stood with children at a conference where he called for sensible gun controls. Within days it seemed the Gun Nut right had decided the only way to defend their untenable position was to turn up the volume, relying on cacophony, not logic. The absurd statements from the Gun Nut crew came so thick and fast, were delivered at such a high decibel level, and attended with so much bubbling anger, it was hard to know how to respond.
It was Voltaire who once said, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe both sides need to define their terms.
GUN NUT LOGIC: According to leaders of the NRA, any restrictions on types of guns or sizes of magazines sold, or mandatory background checks for all purchasers, particularly in regard to private sales, will lead inevitably—if not immediately—to gun confiscation and an end to all Second Amendment rights.
INTERPRETATION: If a child has a bag of Halloween candy and mom says, “You can only eat one candy bar before bedtime,” or “no candy now, it’s time for supper,” this means mom intends to confiscate the bag of candy. Mom is like Hitler.
GUN NUT LOGIC: President Obama has been plotting for years to take away all the guns. He has been plotting and plotting. In 2012, for example, the FBI ran 16.8 million background checks related to gun purchases in the United States. That’s 45,902 guns every day. This proves that we need more guns to make sure that the guns we just bought legally, and with almost zero interference, can’t be taken away. Because Obama is a commie.
INTERPRETATION: A small child wakes in the night, crying for his or her mother. The child believes a monster is hiding in the closet. You can open the closet, figuratively, and show the Gun Nuts that there’s no monster. They will insist that you are hiding the monster in the basement and want the monster to eat them. Maybe someday, like children, they will mature. Then you can point out that the monster never existed. Perhaps their paranoia will dissipate once the black guy is out of the White House.
GUN NUT LOGIC: Banning certain types of weapons won’t do any good—because if you ban guns bad guys will find new ways to kill, turning to knives, stones, fists, etc. (The list can be expanded almost infinitely and might also include: tire irons, crowbars, weed whackers, and frozen loaves of zucchini bread.)
INTERPRETATION: We all need to carry loaves of frozen zucchini bread.
GUN NUT LOGIC: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
INTERPRETATION: This one can be looked at in a thousand ways. For example: The only way to stop a drunk driver is to drive drunker. The only way to stop a child from stabbing a younger sibling with a fork at the dinner table is to give the younger sibling a crowbar. Children should not run with scissors. But children do run with scissors. The way to keep them from getting hurt is to buy them guns for their birthdays.
GUN NUT LOGIC: Since we live in a society where guns have been used repeatedly to shoot up lots of school children we have no choice but to arm all the teachers.
INTERPRETATION: People are going to speed no matter what we do; so we should make the speed limit in school zones 100 m.p.h. Or: keep the limit as is, but allow teachers to shoot at drivers who are going faster.
Now, let’s see if we can sum up the Gun Nut position. Since we can’t ban any types of guns (because that’s what Hitler wanted) and we can’t stop killers from finding other means to carry out killings (axes, knives, garden hoses) and since the Second Amendment is sacrosanct (because all gun owners belong to an imaginary militia), we must take the following steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones:
First, require teachers to carry guns at the hip in holsters. In fact, two guns, one at each hip, like in the old Westerns.
Second, since one mass killing occurred in a theater the workers who serve up buttered popcorn must be armed, at a minimum, with shotguns.
Third, in light of shootings at various colleges, one just this week, all incoming freshmen at all U. S. colleges will be issued assault rifles during orientation. Honor students will be awarded extra ammunition.
Fourth, and because we are thinking creatively, every golfer will henceforth be required to carry a long gun in his or her golf bag, since no one can know when a bad guy might strike on a golf course. (This shall in no way affect a player’s handicap.)
It would be easy to go on and on — require every priest to keep a gun next to the chalice — equip all baby strollers with gun racks. Perhaps, though, there’s a solution. The Gun Nuts know that United Nations forces are coming to take their guns. So we call out the imaginary militia, since we no longer have one, and send them to guard America’s thousands of miles of coastline.
This will allow the Gun Nut types to keep a firm grip on their favorite weapons. It will give them something to do and help them to feel more patriotic. The rest of us will be able to rest easy, knowing there’s no monster in the closet, and if there was, we would still have our frozen loaf of zucchini bread to protect us.