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.