Home Main Category Opinion Our Arsenal Of Democracy – The War Is Over, Right?

Our Arsenal Of Democracy – The War Is Over, Right?

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There are a lot of guns in this country. We know. We have one or two of them. They’re old muzzleloaders and lever-action Winchesters great great-grandaddy used on the family plat in the Gold Country – and while serving on the occasional posse.

They’ve always held a special place in the family history, and hang around collecting dust. But we know for a fact that there are a lot more of them out there, even in the supposedly liberal and progressive 24/680, because frankly we have been to the workshops and man caves where bankers, realtors, and contractors we know keep shiny or meticulously camouflaged new models stashed, and oiled, and ready.

We borrowed our title for today’s screed from a certain President Roosevelt (no, not the one who led his rough-ridin’ boys and the 9th U.S. Cavalry up Kettle Hill during this country’s little foray into Cuba), the one who promised he would turn our country into the primary supplier of matériel for the Allied war effort prior to what turned out to be American forays into Europe and Japan.

Matériel meant guns, of course, plenty of them – among other items critical to the fledgling war effort, and the assembly lines of General Motors and others answered the call, churning out weapons of all types.

Apparently, they never stopped, because this nation is awash in guns. Of all types and description. Beaters like great great-grandaddy’s and stripped down versions of military longarms carried into combat in the Middle East – only fitted with a multitude of sighting devices and mechanisms to give them the full rock n’ roll effect of automatic, or near automatic, rates of fire.

Americans, it seems, aren’t content to merely play with our guns from time to time, taking them out to plink away at bottles or cans set on fence posts. No. Some Americans like to use their guns on other Americans, in movie theaters, from a hotel room overlooking a country music concert – at our schools – in some demented extension of their middle finger to the survivors who don’t, and never will, understand why they do what they do.

When these mass murders happen the nation and families and friends of the dead convulse and wail, officials convey the usual platitudes, a number of vigils are held and then we’re back at it, cranking out more guns and buying them up and finding ways to make them ever more efficient at doing what they do and then, when the time is right, dragging them out and using them on one another with ever-efficient lethality.

We’ve seen gun violence here, in the 24/680, with incidents in Concord and Richmond overnight. Guns were leveled in the driveway of a home in Richmond as new victims were confronted by gunmen and robbed, and apparently fired into the air outside a party house in Concord. Some young people went to the hospital but we’re not sure if they were hit or suffering the ill effects of other party favors on hand, apparently people weren’t talking.

They were talking about guns in Lafayette as recently as yesterday, Saturday, at a town hall meeting held on the topic of preventing gun violence at Stanley Middle School. There were a lot of people there, with the congressional host inviting residents to give their views. The press was also invited, at least one TV crew reporting that their efforts to chronicle the meeting were interrupted by attendees unhappy that the cameras were focusing on a man taking a pro-gun position.

And that’s how this national discussion of ours appears to be going. There’s a lot of emotion, expressions of grief and sympathy, and the need to make it harder for someone to kill 17 high school kids in Florida; 13 in Colorado; 20 children – and six adults – in Connecticut. Both sides think they’re right. That their God is with them. No one appears to be listening.

We’re no closer to resolving this often rancorous and constitutionally grounded national debate than we were when a former Marine hauled a footlocker full of firearms up the University of Texas tower in 1966 – methodically picking off 13 people in a horrific real-life version of a video sniper game. And this will only make the already-angry angrier but other countries have bypassed this great nation and managed to get a handle on what has come to be known as “the gun problem,” reducing the roll of dead and maimed by guns to next to nothing in a few years. Granted, they took measures some in this country have sworn to resist, but they’ve done it.

So, apparently, there are solutions. But it remains to be seen if the established base of gun owners and lobbyists in this country will allow them – certainly not without a fight. They’ve promised that. And they’re armed.


  1. You can’t expect two corrupt parties to get anything done outside of what is for their own personal gain. I’d like to see a lot more airtime given to the medication the shooters were taking. While I agree only that certain people should not have direct access to certain guns I think we will need to look much deeper if we are to actually solve these crises.

  2. If our national ‘representatives’ have such a mental challenge to see the light on high-powered weaponry being a problem in America, they maybe need to look at the consequences of their *inaction*. Literally! they should all be required to go on a field trip to the morgue to actually see the results.

    The following article says a lot, and should be required reading by our ‘representatives’.

  3. We know a few people who are really into guns and they are essentially nice people. Its just that sometimes the way they talk about their guns is almost blatantly psychosexual. And we’ve met a few of those people you mention and you’re right – they are lawyers and police and sometimes even teachers. Guns are everywhere. They really are.

  4. As we decide where to go from here, I think we should sustain focus on *both* (i) which new potential laws have a reasonable chance at reducing gun violence and garnering enough support to become law and (ii) demand accountability (and remediation) for failures to effectively implement current laws / policies. The Parkland shooting has revealed a shocking pattern of incompetence and apathy across many independent officials and public agencies. If this level of government ineptitude is revealed under intense scrutiny, imagine the depth and breadth of dereliction that we *can’t* see. But, as noted above, let’s not ignore (i) as we pursue (ii).

  5. Old hippies like me remember the old song Ohio and the chorus “Four dead in Ohio….” that was a massed crowd of students demonstrating against a company of natioinal guard lined up in ranks. Now one man can walk into a nightclub or church and kill dozens. Where are the songs?

  6. @Kelly: Vilifying people on the opposite side of any debate may rally your base, but won’t get you closer to the consensus required for the change you presumably seek. About 40% of Americans live in a home with at least one gun. It’s mostly urban elites who find guns odd and confusing.

  7. @G Farley: Without detracting at all from your core message, you might be interested to know that the National Guard carried M1 rifles at Kent State. Those are about 2.5X as powerful (in terms of muzzle energy) compared to the 0.223 used by the AR15 (and are also semi-automatic). Annoying trivia from a sniveling gun fetishist perhaps, but the notion that the AR15 is some kind of modern super-gun is just not true.

  8. After singing When Peace Like a River in church this morning, as a moderate I’ll stay out of the gun debate between liberals and conservatives. I understand both sides.

    It is well, it is well with my soul…

  9. I remember a news story about how mixing alcohol and aspirin could create a dangerous reaction. The settled solution was to put warning labels on the aspirin, but nothing on the alcohol. We seem to be in a similar situation. At some point, our society will recognize that our gun fetish isn’t particularly healthy. And it sure doesn’t make us safer.

  10. Responding to Chris: If I remember correctly (1970 was pretty much of a blur for me!) about 30 Guardsmen with M1 rifles and an officer with a pistol loosed about 67 bullets in that horrible 13 seconds killing four and wounding several others. Today we have teens with rifles carrying almost as many bullets in their clip as all those soldiers and doing so much more damage. When do we change the song? 50 dead in Or-lando?

  11. The new reality is that we cannot have a rational discussion in this country without feeling like we need to reach for our guns. Only now we actually HAVE guns during our encounters with others.

  12. I hear you. I really do. I know because I have it written down right here on this little card. Now where’s that big mac and coke I ordered?

  13. I still believe Chris Rock had the best solution. Let the NRA keep its guns — just make everyone pay $100 for every bullet they buy.

  14. If laws worked against the type who would commit the crimes — then making one law would have done it……against the law to murder!! If that didn’t do it – compounding more laws won’t either!

    It’s as simple as can be……. Law abiding gun owners obey
    laws! They are not the ones doing the dirty deeds….on the other hand — your
    thugs and psychos don’t care about laws!!! Do you understand?

    We need to bring back “lock-em up” mental
    institutions – which where reduced to nothing years ago. There are
    approximately 160 million gun owners in the US ….of which about 30 people
    with mental problems broke the laws in recent history with mass killings. That
    leaves about 159,970,000 people that obey the law……. do you really need more gun laws?

  15. Bob, that rational does not even pass a basic sniff test and I bet you don’t even really believe it. Would you apply the same to other types of heinous crimes? Terrorism? I mean, there’s already a law not to kill others and if that doesn’t stop them then why make any other terrorism laws?

    We don’t need to guess what to do. Other countries have done it. And even our own population massively agrees with certain things like universal background checks (90%+ in support) and banning assault weapons (65%+). We just don’t have the will to do it.

  16. People are understandably seizing this opportunity to promote their longstanding objective of restricting or eliminating guns. What these people don’t realize is that every time a huge argument follows a shooting, that attention encourages the next shooter. Because the next shooter is an alienated young man (almost always) who is looking to be noticed. The more heated the current argument gets, the more it will be responsible for the next few shootings. Tone it down, people!

    The best way to limit mass shootings is to minimize all public reaction to them. Deny the shooters the fame and sense of importance they crave. Have the gun control debate any time EXCEPT immediately following a mass shooting. I would go further by asking all media to avoid naming the shooter, substituting am unflattering description such as “mentally ill Loser”.

    • @Keith – Thanks for posting, Keith. One thing, aside from an original identification of a gunman/mass killer in a breaking news situation you won’t see that person’s name repeated on our pages. It’s a thing with us, too.

  17. If only Cadet Bone Spur had been there, this would have turned out differently. Very differently, BELIEVE ME. What this country needs, and what this country has been given, is a cartoon fantasy super hero who will run to the sound of automatic weapons fire even if those inside are too young too vote, and even if our superhero is a sociopath who is incapable of empathy. Fear not! There is a new Sheriff in town. This kind of school massacre will never happen again.

    Btw, why was yesterday’s post trash-canned? One can’t reference Jesus in a post or pose a divine do-over a la “the flood” as a likely outcome? What part of the terms did I violate?

    • @David – Hardly a violation, David. Just trying to keep the threads flowing smoothly and on topic for all.

  18. Boys and their toys…From Terminator 2

    Sarah Connor: How are you supposed to know? F**king men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death…
    John Connor: Mom.
    Sarah Connor: …and destruction…
    John Connor: Mom! We need to be a little more constructive here, okay?

    Me: I don’t think weapons of war belong on our streets although there is no denying it is fun for us boys to blow stuff up. If “recreation” is your justification, I think you are missing the bigger picture. Weapons of war are just that, capable of far greater carnage than any small capacity handgun. Sprays of bullets, bigger holes, greater tissue damage, less chance of survival. I am not allowed to own and fire a cannon. I must content myself with the cannon fire in the 1812 Overture on July 4th, but it is a small price to pay. The Constitution does not guarantee the right to own the weapons of war. On the other hand, if capacity to militarily oppose your duly elected government and the Constitution is your aim, you might want to consider the fate of the treasonous episode from 150 years ago. Holding military weapons for purposes of eventual insurrection is anti-democratic and treasonous under whatever pretense.

  19. @David: I’m not sure what your point is. Guns commonly used for hunting, recreation and/or home defense have always materially overlapped (in all material functional respects, although not always cosmetically) with guns commonly used by soldiers. That is still the case today as much as it was in 1950, 1900, 1850 or 1776. In fact, the empirical evidence suggests that the guns that most resembling “weapons of war” are least likely to be used in murders or suicide. I think there have been zero murders committed with legally-owned machine guns, and rifles of all types (including the black plastic AR15) account for 2-3% of murders (and almost no suicides).

    The humble “small capacity handgun” that you compare favorably to scarier looking guns is, in fact, the only gun that really matters if you want to make a dent in total gun-related deaths. If folks want to repeal the second amendment and confiscate those, they should say so. It might not be plausible now, but demographics are changing fast. Several prominent organizations attempted this in the 70s and 80s. Maybe the time is right to revive those efforts.

  20. @Chris: We can agree that handguns are major killers, especially in accidental shootings, family dispute shootings, and suicides because they are everywhere, but the 2nd Amendment permits their sale and use. My primary point is that weapons of war such as large-capacity magazines and assault rifles designed to inflict mass carnage through ultra rates of fire are not protected in the same way. Their ownership and use should be carefully controlled within the constraints of the Constitution. It is a political problem with a political solution, not a legal problem. Similarly, I would argue that fringe organizations that are allowed to acquire and sometimes hoard weapons of war while thinking they are revolutionary patriots are very, very dangerous. SPLC tracks a lot of hate groups as you probably know, and I hope we can agree that the idea of such groups having heavy weapons, weapons on par with law enforcement, is pretty scary.

  21. @David: Your fear is misplaced as an empirical and logical matter. The weapons you seem to fear most (sounds like semi automatic rifles) are used in fewer murders per year than hammers and other blunt force weapons. Look it up.

    Just to be clear: handguns are the primary guns used in murder. Rifles are statistical noise when looking at both suicide and murder.

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