Like the dinosaurs, ultra-conservative Republicans are inflexible, hidebound creatures who seem incapable of adapting to changing times. If anyone else demonstrates evolving intelligence, the cold-blooded raptors respond with breathtaking fury. So if, for example, a politician suggests that it’s time to consider banning military-style assault weapons, the NRA and its minions quickly lunge for his throat, like a scene from Jurassic Park.
Before President Obama even announced the things he intends to do to help protect schoolchildren from gun-related violence and deaths, the NRA released an online video in which he was labeled an “elitist hypocrite.” Why? Because Secret Service agents protect Obama’s daughters, but he doesn’t favor having armed guards in every American school. Those of us with warm-blooded hearts and functional brains can easily understand why Secret Service agents are needed to protect all American presidents and their families. But like many lower life forms, the NRA seems to just lash out mindlessly at anything slightly different that crosses its path.
And when it comes to reactionary gun-related madness, Tennessee seems to be leading the pack (if rushing headlong in the wrong direction while being followed by a pack of agitated lemmings can be called “leading”). If you think I’m exaggerating, just take the time to talk to the typical Tennessee gun nut. He/she will probably inform you, in between juicy spurts of Copenhagen, that the following things are undoubtedly true:
(1) The only thing standing between American liberty and totalitarian socialism/communism is the Second Amendment.
(2) The single greatest danger right-wing patriots face today is not being able to shoot government representatives on sight, when they come to rob them of their assault weapons and ammo (and perhaps their snuff and spittoons too). Why are the hicks so hysterical? Because they really believe there is a conspiracy by the federal government to strip Americans of their guns, in order to strip them of their other rights. Somehow Sasquatches and UFOs factor into the conspiracy, as do Islam, China, demonic principalities, the UN, the New World Order, the Masons, the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, etc. But how there can be so many “all-powerful” entities and organizations, since if any of them were truly all-powerful all the others would be powerless?
(3) The hillbillies also insist, in between swigs of especially potent moonshine, that the NRA is not solely concerned about the profits and political influence of the weapons manufacturers and gun dealers it represents. They deny that the gun lobby is like the tobacco lobby, with its abhorrent willingness to let children start smoking and die, for the sake a few extra pennies on its multi-billion-dollar patrons’ bottom lines. Somehow the moonshine-swilling yokels know with great and profound certainty that the NRA is the valiant protector of the Second Amendment, and that its ideals are as pure as virgin snow. Schoolchildren who get shot by madmen wielding fearsome assault weapons are a small sacrifice to be paid for those American rights and freedoms so staunchly protected by the heroic NRA!
I could go on, but I think the picture I’ve painted is pretty clear. Dinosaurs had small brains and thus couldn’t adapt to their rapidly changing environment. When a giant asteroid appeared out of the blue and slammed into the earth, they were doomed. We human beings, thanks to our big brains and boundless ingenuity, are not completely incapable of saving our children and grandchildren from extinction. We should be able to read the handwriting on the wall and change our ways before it’s too late. Perhaps we still have time to figure out what to do about global warming and other long-term dangers. But what about the immediate danger to the lives of young schoolchildren, now that madmen have declared open season on them, and while the next serial killer probably lusts for an even higher body count in order to insure his immortality in some macabre Hall of Infamy?
Who can fathom the minds of men capable of such heinous crimes? Who can predict when and where they will strike? Because we can’t accurately predict their behavior, it actually makes perfect sense to prevent them from getting their hands on assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips. It also makes perfect sense to look at technologies that require legal gun owners to identify themselves before guns can be fired, perhaps via fingerprint or retina scans. What makes no sense whatsoever is to do nothing different or to flood schools with even more weapons, which is what the pea-brained dinosaurs of the NRA are now suggesting.
There was an armed deputy present on the school grounds the day of the Columbine massacre. He was outnumbered and outgunned, and couldn’t risk harming innocent children, so he was unable to prevent the killings.
And as Mark Kelly pointed out recently, the elite Navy Seals he knows say it’s “ridiculous” to put armed guards in schools. Kelly is an ex-combat pilot whose wife, Gabby Giffords, was shot and almost killed by yet another madman armed with a semiautomatic weapon and a high-capacity ammo clip. There was at least one armed person in the audience that day, Joseph Zamudio, but he was unable to prevent the shootings. Although he helped subdue the killer, he never had the chance to use his own weapon; the shooting stopped when the killer had to reload and he was tackled by some of his would-be victims. A smaller clip would have limited the carnage.
I agree with Gabby Giffords. When she was asked by Diane Sawyer what she thought about children being shot in schools, she said simply but emphatically, “Enough.”
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.