Kirstie Shanley / Flickr A Message for the NRA...
Kirstie Shanley / Flickr

The tragedy in Parkland has escalated the cultural war and anybody who doesn’t think so is either a damn fool or not paying attention. 18 school shootings in 2018 alone and it’s not even March? The ongoing religious wars in Ireland have got nothing on this.The reaction to Parkland was particularly vile and stupid, mainly because we have a sitting president who is so venal, base, and undeveloped as a person that he had to carry a cue card of empathetic phrases to stumble through a focus group on the shooting. The words out of his mouth were straight out of the NRA playbook, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman so cogently points out in his column today.

Krugman’s column is important because he makes the point that our collective inaction on regulating guns, and even cars, amazingly, has led to unnecessary and continuing carnage on the streets of our nation. He speaks of the “car death belt” in the Deep South and the Great Plains. Krugman goes on about the moves to privatize prisons and turn Medicare and education into voucher systems. The bottom line is this: “…there’s a faction in our country that sees public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.” New York Times:

This paranoia strikes both deep and wide. Does anyone remember George Will declaring that liberals like trains, not because they make sense for urban transport, but because they serve the “goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism”? And it goes along with basically infantile fantasies about individual action — the “good guy with a gun” — taking the place of such fundamentally public functions as policing.

Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — security from crazed gunmen, security from drunken drivers, security from exorbitant medical bills (which every other advanced country treats as a right, and does in fact manage to provide).

In short, you might want to think of our madness over guns as just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Our constitution guarantees us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We are now down to dealing with some bedrock concepts, namely the right of the individual over the safety of the group. And more fundamentally, can we keep our children safe? Or are we going to continue to totter insanely down the road we’ve been on for some time now, where a small special interest group, namely the NRA lobby allows military weaponry to be sold routinely without regulation? It’s time to pick our battles, and the battle right now is against the politicians who are enthralled to the coffers of the NRA and that’s a lot of them. The battle is also against the crazed conspiracy theorists, equally enthralled to the NRA and publicized through media channels such as Fox News, who are committed to presenting a false narrative that eradication of the ability to purchase military weaponry, weapons of carnage, is somehow an infringement of a fundamental right and a harbinger of a so called Deep State takeover.

It’s time for America to grow up and for us to begin an adult conversation about guns. We are hamstrung in this pursuit by a sitting president who does not understand this issue or any issue because a scripted sound bite talking point is what got him into office, not a coherent policy of any kind. These are dangerous times. Our government is operating bereft of leadership at the top and it’s no coincidence that the stumbling and bumbling of this administration acts as catnip to the crazies and they’re all coming out of the woodwork now. We will only see more of this if we do not act now. Now is the time for us to take a stance on sane gun control. We’re long overdue.

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