Friday, December 21, 2012

We Are Beyond Thunderdome

Thunderdome's simple. Get to the weapons, use them any way you can. I know you won't break the rules, because there aren't any. 
--Dr. Dealgood, explaining things to Mad Max and Blaster

Earlier today, NRA executive and longtime spokesman Wayne LaPierre gave a press conference, laying out his team's talking points.  Basically, they blame the news media and video game industry, and think that the solution to gun violence in schools is to arm teachers and security guards.  He argued, in so many words, that "the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." ( Reuters has the story here.)

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg summed it up succinctly: "[LaPierre] offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe."

This is not an extreme characterization of the NRA's vision.  Their central idea -- which is also the Supreme Court's idea in D.C. vs. Heller -- is that guns enhance personal security, so more of them will create a more secure nation.  This is a little like arguing that, since when a truck hits a sports car, the truck driver is more likely to survive, therefore the key to highway safety is for everybody to drive trucks.  Who needs traffic laws?  Just buy bigger trucks.

While LaPierre was talking, a man in Pennsylvania walked into the Juniata Valley Gospel Church and killed a woman who was putting up Christmas decorationsThen he shot three more civilians, and three state troopers.  The crime scene extends for several miles.  Yes, the good guys with guns did stop him -- eventually.  That won't be much comfort to any of the people he has harmed.

In related news, the store where Nancy Lanza bought her guns has been raided by police.  Not because Lanza shopped there, nor even because Omar Thornton went there to buy the handguns he would use in 2010 to kill eight people at a berr distributorship, but because a third man, Jordan Marsh, stole a Bushmaster rifle like Lanza's, apparently intending to use it much as Adam Lanza had used his.  The store has apparently had a lot of trouble with inventory control in the past; Marsh was still on probation after an earlier theft, and in 2007, the store's owners contacted ATF because they couldn't account for 33 different guns.

None of this means that hunters, collectors and other enthusiasts shouldn't be allowed to own guns.  But it most certainly does mean that we, as a nation, have to make a choice.  The Wayne LaPierres of our nation think that, in the interest of safety, everybody ought to be armed, including elementary school principals and ladies decorating churches.  We could choose that route if we want; but the alternative -- the only alternative, were it even politically feasible -- is to tighten up the system in a way that is common in other nations, but without precedent in America.  Gun dealerships need to be heavily regulated and supervised by law enforcement agencies, and gun owners need -- at the very least -- to meet education and licensing requirements comparable to automobile drivers.  There's also got to be a serious discussion about whether any automatic or semiautomatic weapons belong in the hands of civilians.

Absent that level of regulation -- at a minimum -- LaPierre is right.  We should all start packing heat and wearing body armor and standing our ground, because otherwise we are just targets for the crazy people who can get guns so easily.  That may sound like a paranoid, dystopian vision, but it's also where the country is right now.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Has any Christian yet commented yet about Jesus' admonition to turn the other cheek? I know that is a hard one in the face of the gun, but facing a gun with nothing, one might as well turn the other cheek. I keep thinking about my husband who probably could never even shoot a murderer if the situation came up. Human life is precious, we believe, or at least are told by large segments of our society, yet this doesn't seem to come into the equation in the gun discussion. Should we let just anybody shoot a suspected gun toter/shooter? Don't we believe in innocent until proven guilty? What if the "good guys" with the guns shoot at another good guy with a gun and kill him/her? Too many questions.

Anonymous said...

automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons & seriously mentally disabled people are huge problems confronting us. what to do?

perhaps weapon rental at regulated shooting ranges rather than purchase of automatic & semi automatic weapons might work for the weapons. the mentally disabled defy answers.hvignf

Father Anonymous said...

I'm sorry it took me so long to post this, PS -- somehow missed it in my comments box.

Both of these comments are important and worth thinking about.

First, let's just say it: the NRA/Heller moral vision, if you can call it that, actually privileges killing a perpetrator over preventing the perpetration. In this imaginary world, it is actually better to kill a guy mid-rampage than to have prevented the rampage by keeping guns out of his hands.

This is morally deficient; it gets more so when you factor in "stand your ground" laws, which extend the privilege to killing a POTENTIAL perpetrator.

Second, the idea of outlawing personal ownership of automatic weapons while keeping them available for use at ranges, in clubs, and so forth is new to me, but seems very promising. The weapons held, one presumes securely, by these institutions might even satisfy some of the 2nd-Amendment absolutists, by serving as a sort of "community armory" in the event that a militia is ever required to fight off the invading hordes.