For almost four years, the present administration in Washington has had to contend with a large segment of the American republic who seem, at times, to be barking mad with fear.
Represented in Congress by those of similar ilk are Americans who think the world is flat and who think church trumps state in all debates. With a clear and sober eye, President Barack Hussein Obama, has had to contend with a segment of this nation who believes he is the emissary of the ‘dark’ Muslim forces of evil around the globe.
Now the President’s sober eye will be turned to another of America’s long standing untouchable issues: gun control.
When I was a boy, I asked my father why he removed the firing pin from the Japanese rifle he brought home as a souvenir from the War in the Pacific? His answer to me and to all his sons was the same. ‘Because you might use it’ he said bluntly.
These were the bad old days of New York City, circa 1974, where a frightened eight year old saw how junkies high on angel dust were throwing old ladies off rooftops with regularity it seemed. New York averaged almost 2000 murders a year for over twenty years beginning in 1971, peaking in 1990 with over 2600 murders.
The Bronx was a zoo and Brooklyn wasn’t any better. New York was a city where shootings on subway trains were common and rape seemed even more common. Each day, the papers and television news had stories that seemed more horrid than the last. Then there were the mafia killings nearby.
The Obama administration has pushed Congress to delve into new ways of dealing with our long standing problems. In health care, employment and education, this administration’s attempts to turn around a 40-year cycle of covert inflation for Americans has brought down a wrath of fear for what the future may look like.
Like President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930’s, President Obama also has sought to infuse in us a confidence as ‘one’ community despite the shrieks and disclaimers from the Republican Party about us being disparate parts and states (God v Godless, straight v gay, white v non white, Texas v New York).
The Democratic Party, since the 1960’s, has held that welfare and other social safety nets are untouchable despite the fact that they are often unwilling to confront the problems that arise with multi-generational joblessness and indolence. While the Democrats have, in many ways learned to curtail so much of their spending from the ‘Great Society’ era, they often ignore the very American right of an individual to better themselves.
At the same time, the Republicans have swept up powers in this nation under the triumvirate ideals of God, guns and money. Their latest emissaries of non elected fear mongering are Arkansas ex Governor and Minister Mike Huckabee, Wayne Lapierre of the NRA and Grover Norquist of the anti tax pledge that most Republicans in Congress have signed.
In league with their comrades, they have stonewalled in state houses and the Congress over abortion, gun control and taxes. In using the same tactics that have lasted far longer than McCarthyism itself, the Republicans have instilled a fear based logic that isolates even their followers from each other.
I learned marksmanship and gun safety on the rifle range of Camp Kunatah as a Boy Scout when I was eleven.
Seeing little abatement to the violence in New York City, at age 14, I again asked my father why we had no functioning gun in the house?
His focus this time was different for a son who may just have matured enough with age to understand that owning a gun did not ensure ones safety or liberty.
“Son, because I might use it. And because you can’t take it back.”
Here was a man of middle age tutoring his youngest son in the ways of plain survival. A man who, in war, legally killed with firearms for our nation and yet knew in 1981, New York City still could not keep it’s citizens safe on street, bus, subway or at home.
A man who saw, up close, the consequences of his actions in war. A man who knew that having a firearm in the home meant the option of using it.
Minister Huckabee assumes the seemingly endless number of school or mass murders in the U.S. has everything to do with a lack of God in schools.
Meanwhile, Lapierre of the NRA advocates for guns in the hands of teachers and decries New Yorker Mike Bloomberg, mayor of what is now the safest city in America, for his campaign against Americans’ second amendment right to keep and bear arms.
During this Presidents first four years, there was little talk from the administration about gun control. Even so, NRA headWayne Lapierre wrote to his fear laden forces, just days before the last election, “ a sweeping gun ban aren’t just a possibility in a 2nd Obama term. They’re a near certainty.”
Given the extreme lethality of the weapon and hollow point bullets so effectively used to kill 28 of the 29 people shot in Connecticut on Friday, Mr. Lapierre may well get his way.
When the nuns in Catholic school saw a few of the boys weren’t playing nice with the football, they took the football away. Even if most of the boys were trying to play fairly, everyone suffered for the behavior of the few. This was the nuns way of instilling order, equality and overall, safety for everyone.
For the cruel and brutal murders of six-year-olds Avielle, Jesse and Catherine, Mr. Lapierre, may get his way. For the lives of 30-year- old Lauren and 47 year old Dawn, also killed senselessly on Friday with a legally owned weapon from the home of the killer, we will be coming to you.
Gun control isn’t about mental health, God or the right of Americans to secure their homes and persons. This is about the gun in the hands of too many humans whose propensity to use them far exceeds their ability to reason. You and your ilk have coddled the angry, the scared and the barking mad for too long. In doing so, you have also held us hostage to your weapons and your fear. Your right to keep and bear arms for your presumed safety does not exceed my right to equal safety without a firearm.
We are the nuns and we are coming to take your footballs away. You asked for this.
My father was smart enough to not allow a functioning firearm in a house with seven children. More than that, in a city that couldn’t keep his children safe, he was tough and he wasn’t afraid. And we all survived. Are you that tough, Mr. Lapierre?