My cousin Ike in Indiana is the family joke teller. Here’s a sample of his work: “Do you know why you hunt deer with an assault rifle?”
“You don’t want them shooting back.”
Ike can tell that kind of joke because I know what kind of a man he is when it comes to his respect for the firearms he owns. But being an avid hunter doesn’t mean he doesn’t have serious work to do on his stand—up routine before he even thinks about quitting his day job.
Jokes aside, the recent Newtown massacre has had me thinking a lot about guns this week. Hardly the angels-we-have-heard-on-high kind of thing one might expect to be thinking about the weekend before Christmas, but that’s where I’m at.
On Friday, I tuned in to watch the National Rifle Associations CEO and executive VP Wayne LaPierre’s press conference to hear what the NRA had to say after all those innocents had been mowed down in their classrooms a week earlier. In announcing their School Shield program, LaPierre went on to say: “The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”1
More guns? But then it hit me: who is left to buy more? Who’s left to sell to? Then the really cynical thought: Maybe the suggestion of ‘more guns’ is the only thing left the gun manufacturers can do to hit their sales numbers. I think Cousin Ike’s tongue-in-cheek slam at those who won’t be happy until they can go hunting with rocket launchers is closer to the truth than any of us might think. What if LaPierre’s logic is good? Then, maybe arming the deer so they can shoot back might be the best way to end the violence of deer season and boost sales and all, in one fell bloody swoop. How Roman. After all, ever since that unfortunate incident with Bambi’s mom, anyone who’s ever watched Animal Planet has heard tell of the simmering resentment towards us in the deer community. Talk about tapping new virgin markets for Sig Sauer, Remington and Bushmaster. Sell to the deer. Brilliant!
Dripping sarcasm aside, I think it is perfectly reasonable for us, as a tribe, to talk about what kind of firearm is permissible to own and what weapons are not. No one has any problem with the fact that we Citizens can’t legally own a tank or an F-18 fighter aircraft. No one has any difficulty understanding that it is illegal to drive a NASCAR class vehicle on ‘our’ streets. And as already alluded to, I can see the worry on the part of the gun manufacturers. Any good marketing plan will respond to flattening sales in any durable goods manufacturing industry (like firearms) by appealing to the repeat buyer via variety. You’ve already got a Glock handgun? You have a Winchester rifle? Have you looked at the AK-47? No deer will ever aim at you again. So it seems that like in so many other industries, offering variety is in fact, the spice of life in the gun world.
Spice aside, the point of the spear of any comprehensive gun policy hinges on what we will be declaring to the Cosmos if we don’t outlaw semi-automatic assault rifles. Our military. Our police forces and emergency responders…all of them are there to be our modern-day militia. The Founding Fathers could never imagined a nation such as this. But they did have the foresight to construct the Constitution and The Bill of Rights in such a way that it could breathe, flex and operate. Think about it. We have so much to choose from in the Garden of Armament Eden and one more time, one tiny little slice of American culture just insists on going for the apple. ‘But I want a weapon in my hands that can fire 30 shots or more in seconds…’
Have we learned nothing from the very Beginning? I’m concerned when I hear how a relatively large percentage of the assault weapon market is grounded in registered gun owners with multiple weapons. And what about those unregistered? Wow. That’s a lot of guns. And on top of that, there are so many different firearms to choose from already. Are we really going to miss it if we were able to outlaw the sale of just assault rifles? It’s one thing, one product. Who’s gonna miss it when the dividends for getting these weapons off the street start rolling in. It’s happened plenty of times in many other parts of the world. What Australia was able to do in coming together on gun ownership after a massacre there is nothing less than remarkable. But not us.
Let me approach this from another perspective. Is it worth the demolition derby we’d have in our streets if we outlawed stop signs?. Of course not. There would be such an uproar that the law would change back the next day. Just one thing can hurt. It bleeds a lot. It gets changed. I’ve caught myself wondering what it would be like to be in a culture shifted to celebrating all the responsibilities that come with gun ownership. It is specifically mentioned in our Bill of Rights. Those were dangerous times back then. The times now are no less so. Who knew, right?
I understand why I have rural relatives who have guns in the home. The nearest ambulance is 20-minutes away. And if someone is already at your home and intent on causing trouble? I get it. We view it as reasonable to expect that Society endorses the rights of its Citizens to hold and bear arms. And you know what? I’ve talked to a lot of NRA members who are some of the most devoted fans of old weapons or pistols, deer rifles or whatever I’ve ever known. They train. They educate. They teach and live a commitment to keeping their weapons safely stored. There’s a lot that comes with responsible gun ownership. And these guys (and gals) I’ve been listening and talking with lately have all had one common theme. The other day, I had a truck driver tell me: “Who we are and how we demonstrate our respect for firearm safety is a big deal to me. That’s why I belong. What is our leadership doing? I have no issue with some manner of assault weapon reform? But they do? Who are these people? If someone is such a bad shot that it takes 30 rounds to bring down a deer, I don’t want them as an NRA member. That’s not what I signed up for.”
Bam. I got it. This is the time. This is a Moment of Truth. If not now, when? How many more human sacrifices do we need to be able to pay the price of admission into the big tent of gun sanity. The cable news world is filled with those who play the slippery slope argument of outlawing nothing and in so doing, purport to be worshiping at the high and holy temple of the Second Amendment. When I wonder if what’s really afoot is a play to double sales by arming everyone. And if everyone is armed and shooting, ammunition sales will soar! Think about the possibilities. Oooo.oo. I know. Let’s be sure to sell them in large capacity magazines…30 rounds…100 rounds. They’ll use more. They use more, they’ll buy more. “OMG. Get Jenkins in Marketing in here right now. Marge, you call Stephens. Get her back from Philly. This is big.”
My fictional firearm executive is absolutely right. His company (and the few other large weapons producers in his class) already supply a mature customer base in the police and military production requirements. Financially and ergo to their boards, adding new revenue paths into the consumer marketplace makes all the sense in the world. No wonder the deer are pissed. But that’s just the point. If everyone is armed like Rambo, there will be a lot of ammunition sold and used. And people who didn’t need to, will die.
This is the time we remind our elected officials and our CEO’s what it is we want from them. We are speaking to some really simple first steps…assault weapon ban, gun show sales and outlawing the uber capacity clips designed to hold 100 rounds. Just get it done for us. You know what we want.
Will our elected government be able to get over themselves and commence the business of doing our business when it comes to gun reform.
Let’s not settle for a quick legislative fix to something; anything, just because all of us were touched in some way by what happened in Newtown AND every 3-minutes since, someone, somewhere in America has died from a gun shot.
Have we learned nothing?
What the shooter did was a quick kill. There’s an awful lot to cover when it comes to gaining some kind of positive momentum on coming to grips with what gun sanity should look like. Countries all over the world…the ones who look to us for leadership have done it. But we, the United States of America haven’t? People. This is embarrassing. Do something Washington. Do your job. We’re telling you what we want. So go ahead. Keep talking and stalling. But just remember, there is a larger price to be paid if we don’t do anything.
The deer are waiting ;-D
And here, before I go, is my Christmas gift. If you haven’t caught what I got from Bluebird Avenue, indulge yourself.
BLUEBIRD Five-Minute Dance Party [The Carol of the Bells (For Twelve Cellos)] : http://bluebirdblvd.net/2012/12/19/five-minute-dance-party-the-carol-of-the-bells-for-twelve-cellos/
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