Maybe I worry too much. Perhaps I should spend more time watching Wheel of Fortune and less time on things that really matter.
Recently, I’ve been puzzling over the things our country considers sacred. The first things that come to mind are God, motherhood, the American flag and guns.
For now, I’ll focus my attention on the subject of guns.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against all guns, just some of them. I’ve probably spent as much time in a swamp duck hunting as anyone and just as much time enjoying dove and rabbit hunting. I’ve owned rifles and shotguns since I was a young teenager and learned to appreciate their quality and what they could do. I’ve spent about as much time with my old Belgian Browning as I have with my wife. As a teenager, I was a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) when it was primarily supported by sportsmen, outdoorsmen and collectors of antique firearms.
Times change, and so has the description of the typical American gun owner. This change has been reflected in the membership of the NRA. Instead of an organization focused on the sporting aspect of gun ownership, this group now has morphed into a political action committee of gun-toting extremists who fancy themselves urban cowboys or members of the local militia. Most guns now owned in the U.S. have one purpose for their existence: to injure or kill other human beings. These are not shotguns or semi-automatic sporting firearms or collector’s items. These are “Saturday night specials,” fully automatic pistols, machine guns, or assault weapons. These guns will never be used for hunting, target practice, or other recreational uses. These are weapons of mass destruction.
Our country’s love affair with murder weapons is killing us, and we choose to ignore the fact. Since 9/11, there have been more than 120,000 of our citizens slaughtered, 25 times more than were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined — a gun death every 17 minutes, according to a CNN report.
And what do Wayne LaPierre, NRA President, and the other weapons fanatics claim: We have too few guns, not too many. They espouse the worn out theory that guns prevent violence not cause it: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Give us a break! More correctly, “People with guns kill people.”
Can you picture high school and college students walking around their campuses with six-shooters waiting at the ready for one of their schoolmates to make “the wrong move”?
What about the murders that have taken place inside churches? Should religious people have their AK-47 assault rifles cocked just in case the Sunday school teacher says something blasphemous? Should our congressmen all be “packing heat” just in case the guy across the aisle doesn’t vote for his amendment? In Carthage, N.C., where eight elderly patients were killed in a nursing home, should their attendants all have 45s? Should Mama have a loaded firearm on the kitchen table in case Junior disparages her apple pie?
Why does America have more gun deaths per capita than any other developed country on Earth? I believe it’s because we’ve got the most guns! Duh!
Guns make killing too easy and too convenient. You don’t have to talk out a disagreement or take the trouble of reaching a compromise. You don’t have to get your hands bloody. Why waste time when you can just pull the trigger and go about your business? Cowards hiding behind the Second Amendment.
When the Second Amendment was written, women could not vote, African Americans were counted as 3/5 of a person, slavery was OK, and your next door neighbor was 20 miles down the road. Americans were using single-shot black powder weapons— maybe a shot or two a minute. A modern assault weapon can fire more than 10 rounds per second.
Laws should evolve to serve the majority of people, NOT to accommodate the residual adolescent behavior of the lunatic fringe.
When “the right to keep and bear arms” was written 232 years ago, arms were muskets not AK-47s.
When are we going to start listening to our law enforcement officials who support intelligent gun control instead of the fanatics who claim it is un-American and un-constitutional? Why do we pander to the NRA and ignore the police officers who risk their lives every day? Why are we the only developed country in the world who does not see the connection between the number of guns and the number of gun-related crimes?
Intelligent gun control does not ban all guns, regardless of the NRA propaganda we constantly hear. It means ridding our society of firearms that are meant to kill people—the $50 pistols and the assault weapons that can kill dozens in a few seconds. It includes eliminating armor-piercing ammunition that is frequently used to kill police officers. It has nothing to do with shotguns and legitimate hunting firearms and collector’s items. It includes stringent background checks to filter out criminals and the mentally unstable. It would include all the sales of these type weapons including gun shows.
It takes one year and passing a state board exam in this country in order for one to obtain a license to cut hair. Vehicle owners have to be 16 years old, pass a driver’s test, and buy liability insurance to operate a car. Why do we allow anybody off the street to buy a lethal weapon at a gun show with no similar qualifications and safeguards?
If our country does not muster up the courage to stare down the NRA, we will be the country who lives by guns and dies by them.
If we continue to hold sacred the very weapons that are killing us, we are worshipping a graven idol.
David Scott writes about the intersection of politics and religion between sailing trips on Lake Waccamaw for our sister site, WilmingtonFAVS.
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.