POLITICS AND OTHER MISTAKES – Guns are drawn

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“Just try to say it,” said the mental health counselor.

“OK,” I said, “I guess I can do that much. Here goes. I’m in favor of g-g-g- … gack!”

“Take it easy,” said the counselor, wiping spittle off his shirt. “Remember to breathe. Now, try again.”

“G-g-g- … g-g-gun. Guns. I’m in favor of guns.”

“That’s not the statement you’re supposed to make,” said the counselor. “Give it another shot.”

“Under the circumstances,” I said, “I assume there’s no pun intended. OK, then. Deep breath. I’m in favor of gun con-con-con … Can’t do it. I’m never gonna say that.”

“Let’s try something easier,” said the counselor. “Do you think your government should restrict violent video games?”

“Hell, yes,” I said with a heaping helping of sarcasm he somehow missed. “Even possessing them should be illegal.”

“Quentin Tarantino movies?”

“Close down any theater that shows one, and ship the owner off to Gitmo.”

“Ke$ha’s song ‘Die Young’?”

“Ban it from the airwaves and the Internet.”

“Elmore Leonard novels? Three Stooges reruns? Mixed martial arts?”

“Yes, yes and yes!” I shouted. “They’re all turning this country into a cesspool of violence.”

“How about some new restrictions on gun ownership?”

“No! Guns don’t kill people. Video games kill people. It’s the sharp edges on the packaging.”

I probably didn’t handle that court-mandated session that well. Particularly, when I insisted the counselor lie facedown on the floor with his hands on top of his head while I escaped from his office. I added urgency to my request by pointing my Glock at his midsection.

In the wake of the Connecticut school shootings, this is the way a lot of debates over guns are ending. He didn’t convince me to turn my weapon over to the government. I didn’t shoot him. It’s unsatisfying for both sides.

In many ways, the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy feels like the period following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – except in reverse. In the wake of 9/11, it was conservatives trying to crack down on those who didn’t believe the same things they did. If you weren’t singing “God Bless America,” you were suspected of having bombs in your underpants.

This time, the right wing wants to arm teachers (I’d give a shotgun to the school-lunch lady, too), but it’s the liberals who are really on the offensive. Oddly enough, the leftists’ goal seems familiar: Civil liberties need to be restricted.

“This isn’t just about guns,” Erica Dodge, spokeswoman for Democratic state Senate President Justin Alfond, told the Portland Press Herald. “It’s about our mental health services and securing our schools.”

According to a paraphrase in the Sun Journal, former Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert thinks it’s time “to worry less about individual rights and focus on protecting society.”

“I believe that no one in her right mind should acquire and play (on shooting ranges or otherwise) with [guns],” Democratic state Rep. Janice Cooper of Yarmouth wrote in a Forecaster column. “No home should contain them.”

“Why be coy?” writes author and university teacher Robert Klose in a Bangor Daily News op-ed. “The Second Amendment should be repealed. Once it is gone, meaningful firearms legislation will finally be possible – converting gun possession from a right to a privilege.”

What these frantic folks have forgotten is that most of the post-9/11 domestic security upgrades did nothing to upgrade security. They just made it more unpleasant to fly or enter a public building or exercise our right to free speech. Real terrorists probably had a chuckle about that, before getting back to developing more ingenious ways to kill us.

As the fallout from the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy settles, we seem intent on overreacting in much the same way. Politicians will have the final say as to who can purchase a gun. Schools will be surrounded by concertina wire with drones keeping watch overhead. And anybody who displays any sign of unconventionality will be pumped full of Thorazine.

We could require background checks on buyers at gun shows and in private sales – even though the Connecticut shooter didn’t buy the guns he used. He stole them. Which is already against the law.

We could ban assault weapons and large clips – even though there are plenty of both in circulation, so such a law would create a lucrative black market.

We can place restrictions on video games, forcing teenagers to take out their frustrations not by playing “Assassins Creed 3,” but with “Hello Kitty Claws the Sofa.” (If it’s true these games alter kids’ behavior, that’ll be a big boost for the reupholstering industry.)

And we can start re-education camps for libertarians like me, who since 9/11 have developed a resistance to being told what size shampoo bottle they can put in their carry-on bags, and who, even in the mourning period for Newtown, still can’t bring themselves to accept pointless attempts at g-g-gun con-con-con … damn.

If you believe in shoot first, ask questions later, it’s time for the questions, emailed to me at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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