The NRA: guns, jerks and spiel

By Tom Kozlowski

Opinions Editor

It’s finally on our doorstep. The time spent avoiding even the thought of gun control has caught up with us, not in some intellectual evolution of momentum, but in bullets and numbers, in calamity as commonplace. For just as we left school, another one fell victim to a scenario beyond imagination. Beyond our glamorization of guns, past our most frightening “what-ifs;” but it’s the “what-if’s” that have shown us what must be done. And I’ll be damned if I allow the NRA to hold our logic at gunpoint.

Their position is lopsidedly simple: the unrestricted, patriotic freedom to lay your hands on firearms. Any grade, any power. As extreme as the pro-gun position is, many blow the anti-gun advocates out of proportion too, a problem all on its own. They blast the anti-gun advocates for what they don’t believe in, the elimination of all guns whatsoever. For the NRA and its ilk, conspiracy and misunderstanding are almost as dangerous as the guns they tout. But there is no police state takeover. There are no political games being played on the graves of Newtown’s victims. There are merely those trying to make a difference and those too narrow-minded to get out of Dylan’sproverbial road.

Fortunately, President Obama’s gun control plan has refocused some of the debate. It’s about time, too. Mass shootings are hardly a black comedy joke where hands should spring up, palms out, shouting “too soon, too soon.” Yet they do, and that must be changed. As does our inability to properly discuss this plan.

Here are some considerations: we do not have unlimited freedom. That’s a big one, I might add. We’re prohibited from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. We have to buy car insurance, and we’re penalized from driving that car too fast on a highway. One of those already violates the sacrosanct First Amendment — so when did your Second Amendment become Old Testament law? Mine is subject to limitations like everything else. A “well regulated” militia and the government responsibility to protect is citizens automatically nullify that argument, no matter how loud you can yell “freedom” over the Grand Canyon.

Now here’s a question: when have you (or a phone-a-friend buddy) benefited from owning an assault rifle? To hunt with a semi-automatic AK-47 is a long shot; to prevent crimes with, more importantly, it is undocumented. I don’t dispute the legitimacy of carry-conceal laws. What I do know is that every reported case has occurred with a handgun or shotgun. If you support taking high-powered, large magazine weapons from the hands of the mentally ill, then perhaps we should start by taking them from the public. After all, we’re the ones who least need or use them.

I asked my hard-right neighbor an easy question the other day. “Would you pass Obama’s gun control measures if you thought they would save one life?” She said no. I asked again. “Let me remind you that the measures include mental healthcare reform, school safety funding, and a director for the ATF.” Again, she said no. She thought I wanted the government to control our lives.

Such thinking will never make us safer, only more paranoid. This is a debate flooded by emotion, partisanship reigns. And a tact Obama gun plan is only a brief antiseptic. But assess your options again. To potentially reduce 36,000 gun crimes a year or watch them persist — the NRA may have the guns, but the brains aren’t so easily acquired.