Gun Owners (2014Oct25)

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Those who own guns want to own guns—that’s the sad, simple fact—and that’s why reasoned arguments don’t go over so well with them. I admit, there is one thing in this dangerous world that guns will protect them from—other gun owners. Unfortunately, the stats show that gun owners shoot themselves and their families far more than any outside faction.

You can use a rifle to hunt for dinner, or to kill a wild beast in the woods (if you get one angry enough to attack you—they prefer to avoid us) and this allows pro-gun nuts to confuse the issue over hand-guns, open carry, and school shootings. So, sure, keep the rifles—at least until you can get your ass to the A&P to buy dinner, like a normal person. Come to think of it, hunting rifles are closest in kind to the “arms” noted in our second amendment—so if you’re thinking of overthrowing the tyranny of our present government, by all means, keep that rifle.

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But if you just want to feel that deliciously heavy steel killing machine in your mitt, and your neighbors all feel the same way—well, you’re all just looking for an excuse to feel the Power—that better-than-sex power you feel with a pistol in your hand. You’re in love with violence. Go on—admit it. You just want to shoot somebody—because what bigger thrill has life to offer? The power of life and death—strong stuff. I mean, they’re there, they’re right there—and if you don’t own one, someone else will—and then you’ll be helpless against their childish impulse to try something that goes bang. Happiness, as the Beatles pointed out, is a Warm Gun. (Bang, bang, shoot, shoot…)

Geometrically speaking, if we consider the ever-growing incidence of school shootings, parents shouldn’t be allowed to own guns. But then, the psychotic teenagers that perpetrate school shootings don’t always get their arms from their parents. So, better idea, gun owners should only live in child-free zones, so the two never intersect. (Or is it ‘children only in gun-free zones’?) Still, I’m starting to think that all these school shootings may have something to do with bad parenting—maybe we should focus on random, adult shootings, instead. After all, parenting is hard—and 99% of us do it wrong—so let’s leave the kids out of this.

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Maybe it’s religion—is there anything more terrifying than a fundamentalist with a fully-loaded firearm? Ask ISIS. But I have to say, if these people really believed in anything other than their own hatred, would they need weapons to enforce their ‘heaven on earth’? Isn’t God supposed to have some kind of power? Other than a tank battalion, I mean. Belief in God should disqualify us from weapons purchasing for two reasons: If you die unarmed, isn’t that a free pass to the Magic Kingdom? And isn’t God’s will going to triumph, regardless of firepower?

Religion, kids, dinner—these are the real problems. Owning a hand-gun means nothing—after all, guns don’t kill people—they just make it so damn easy.

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No Headlines

Can it be true? Has it come to this? It was bad enough when ambitious, young entertainers could no longer dream of the day they’d be a guest on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show”. Now the newspaper industry is dying—soon no one will be able to dream of someday being “in the headlines”! These social lynchpins connected us to each other, just as Sunday once brought communities together each week. People don’t ‘gather’ anymore. Well, sometimes they do, but it’s called “Occupy” Wall St., or wherever they happen to be gathering.

Summer campgrounds once gave us mini-communities, in which vacationing families would see each other as neighbors for the duration of the vacation—comments about how the kids have grown, or a new baby, or the latest Coleman camping accessory—even when we went away from our communities, we just formed new, temporary ones with whoever was at the same campground. No theme parks. No Hyatts. Just a bare patch of dirt in the woods, ready for tent-staking, and a lakeside beach for relaxing, while the kids ran themselves to exhaustion….

Where else have we stopped connecting with each other? Everywhere except the internet. But people give the Web too much credit—I bet a lot of people who are separated from each other find that ‘skyping’ is just as distant and unsatisfactory as a phone call used to be—communication, but no warmth, no flesh.

One of the things that contributes to culture shock when visiting some other countries is the total absence of internet access—and sometimes even electricity. It’s funny to think that in many communities around the world, people still are born, live their lives and die without ever using electricity. I suppose the Amish might understand, but I’d be at a total loss in such a place.

As time passes, I seem to focus more on the things that are leaving, or already gone, than the things that are new. Take ‘Skyping’ as an example—I have no desire to Skype somebody—but in my twenties, I would have lunged at that. Much of new technology guarantees two things:  (1) Something a bit more charmingly civilized will be lost. And (2) Our remove from our forebears (and from the present Third World cultures) gets wider and wider.

Think of this modern rash of ‘school shootings’—could we, back when we were students, have gotten away with anything like that? No, we were living in each other’s laps, compared to the way families live today. And obesity—that was a practical impossibility back in, say, the 1950’s—daily life simply required more movement and activity than is needed today.

That is not to say that all that communing was always a good thing—there were lynch mobs, riots, secret brotherhoods, lots of bad things—but a total lack of any ‘mingling’ in our daily lives is such a departure from our heritage. Is community activity a necessary part of a happy culture? Have we lost in Civilization what we gained in Progress?

I am, perhaps, more attuned to this, due to my shut-in-like lifestyle—most folks my age are still interacting with society a lot more than I do. But I can see in young people (including our own) a tendency towards solitary activity—even when communing with each other, they commune online. I think flash mobs are in some ways a result of the lack of actual connection between an online group of friends—they organize a brief meeting and an organized interaction, then all walk away like nothing happened. But, that may be the only time something actually happens in their lives, sans keyboard and mouse.

It worries me.