News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

July 22, 2013

READERS' FORUM: July 22, 2013

TERRE HAUTE — NRA’s gun show

goes on and on


P-s-s-s-t.

There are elephants in the tea room. (Some of the tuskier specimens may even be Boone-and-Crockett caliber.) And no one is taking aim at them. Pray tell, why not? Are they invisible? Are they out of season or simply subjects taboo?

Once again, the National Rifle Association has begun its summer festivities, that is, the herding together of its membership for their traditional march of circular reasoning. (More on that a bit later.) To paraphrase Charlton Heston, former spokesperson for the NRA, “They can have my little pea-shooter when they twist this soda straw from my chilly, tea-stained fingers.”

Nobody wants to take away your pea-shooter. Chuck, you poor, dead, self-aggrandizing, misguided messianic warbler.

As Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president-for-life (and the life beyond) of the NRA, put it following the defeat of a recent effort to ever-so-slightly expand background checks for those wishing to purchase firearms, “This fight will never be over.”

Not even, presumably, after all the combatants are long-since deceased.

I do not see the correlation between concealed-carry laws and the need for a well-regulated militia, but apparently Illinois lawmakers did recently. Perhaps, they were focusing more on political pronouncements than on constitutional proscriptions.

Some will say that the more people who carry guns, the safer we will all be. But when guns are used against other humans to save someone else’s life, it is a one-in-a-million proposition. If a gun is used by one citizen to save another, it makes the news far and wide because it is such a rarity. If, however, a gun is used to murder someone, we rarely hear about it unless there are multiple victims, or it occurs nearby, or if there are freakish or unusual other circumstances surrounding the event.

I am not anti-gun. Furthermore, I support the right to own firearms as outlined in the Second Amendment. I have long believed that the most compelling reason for citizens to have their own weapons is not to defend home and hearth, nor for hunting, nor sport, nor for intimidation of one’s fellow citizens (their most common and exhilarating use today), but because we need to be able to back up our ballot boxes with the actual physical means of removing tyrants, lunatics or conspirators and usurpers of power. The founding fathers acknowledged the importance of this capability (although some of them began to have second thoughts once they realized that they had gained control of the new government and thus stood to be the next ones in line to be overthrown … and these were no nervous Nellies, mind you.)

Times have changed. Today, a small group or even a single person can inflict great harm among the rest of us. The argument is raised that muskets represented cutting-edge technology when the Constitution was adopted. True, but we don’t allow individuals to own tanks, fighter jets, RPGs, landmines, etc., now do we? So, it is established already that there should be limits. The “right to own” is not above logical restrictions.

Ask yourself this: would AR-15s really do the job if it became necessary to upend the government? Have you ever known of a revolution where there was a shortage of small-arms-type weaponry? The arms merchants have long tentacles, and they are always ready to turn a profit.

What’s more, their consciences are small enough, spit-wad-sized, to slip easily through the muzzle of a soda straw.

The hallelujah chorus of the NRA’s declaration of positions is that the only way to stop the use of guns in mass killings is to prevent criminals and people with mental problems from acquiring guns. Yet the same remain steadfastly opposed even to minimalist expansion of background checks. This is logic marching in a circle. How can those with mental problems or criminals be identified without checking into the background of would-be purchasers? That’s just crazy talk. (Friendly little game of Catch-22 anyone?)

Yet, for the benefit of M’sieurs Kite and LaPierre, the show must go on. Let’s get these ducks in a row.

All together now, tail-to-trunk-to-tail-to-trunk, once more around the Big Top!

— Clay Wilkinson

Terre Haute

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