Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Guns and the Paranoid Style of the American Psyche

"Power grows out of the barrel of a gun," said the Chinese revolutionary, Mao Tse Tung.  
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed," said the revolutionary Americans who wrote the 2nd Amendment. 

Apparently, the importance of guns to a sense of power and a sense of security against those who may wish us harm is cross cultural.

With 300 million, imperishable guns at large in America today, one has to ask what the point is in trying to prevent more people from getting guns.

One might argue there is some benefit to reducing the number of guns just as there is benefit to reducing the number of nuclear weapons, if only to make these destructive elements less readily available to the nearest maniac, but neither premise has ever been proved. 

It strikes me as reasonable that restricting where guns can be hauled around makes some sense, if only to impede  the rash, impulsive decision for a man or woman who feels enraged or threatened to pull a gun and shoot.  Guns at a football stadium among a throng of drunken fans does not sound like a good idea and the power to restrict access to the stadium generally resides in private, commercial hands, who are worried about the bottom line, which would not be enhanced by a mow down at the next Patriots game. 

New Hampshire state Representatives have made fools of themselves by insisting guns be allowed in the state house.  It's important, apparently, for Representatives of the people to pack heat while they argue with each other about whether or not to make the Red Tail Hawk the state bird. Never can tell whether someone will get so worked up he will charge across the floor and attempt to behead someone who thinks that hawk is pernicious and should be the mascot of Planned Parenthood, but not the state. (Because, you know, the bird rips apart its prey, unlike other more decorous birds, who simply peck.)

Then again, New Hampshire Representative rarely pass up an opportunity to make fools of themselves.

In New Hampshire, last I looked a the law:
1. If you walk across someone's lawn uninvited, you are trespassing. But if you walk across that same lawn, carrying a rifle, you are not, because you are hunting, and that is specifically protected by state law. The homeowner, or the owner of the woods in the back of his house must post "No Hunting" signs.  
2. It is legal to fire a gun within 300 feet of any house in New Hampshire, if you desire, especially if you are trying to shoot a raccoon or a skunk, or perhaps a Red Tail Hawk.

3. It is legal in New Hampshire to shoot across any road to kill a deer or moose or skunk on the other side with 8 specific exceptions, including, Rte 95, Rte 93 and Rte 101. I forgot the five other roads.

Whatever the approach to gun violence, it will be at least partly ineffective--that we must accept.  Gun violence is a part of America and has been from the start.

Exactly what sorts of gun violence we will try to prevent, or can prevent, is the real discussion. We'll never prevent the lunatic who, using the element of surprise, shows up at a schoolyard or a shopping mall or movie theater and starts firing.  We might make it more difficult for him to kill lots of people by limiting his choice ordinance, and even die hard gun lovers would likely agree on limiting access to grenades, howitzers and atom bombs, but that particular form of carnage will continue no matter what we do.

Hand gun violence, which occurs on the street, usually in connection with robbery or adolescents who feel disrespected, or enraged fathers/ husbands will likely be beyond our control.

There are no simple solutions and background checks, limits on assault rifles will likely have minimal impact  on certain types of events (e.g., street corner shootings, spousal and domestic shootings) and liberals will continue to look clueless after each new incident, as they sputter in impotent rage.

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