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Thoughts on Thoughts on the Vegas Massacre


Everybody has thoughts on what happened over the weekend in Las Vegas where a previously under-the-radar guy named Stephen Paddock shot and killed at least 59 concert-goers and wounded another 530 or so. Here are my thoughts on those others:

Thoughts and Prayers: This tag line has become a totally empty expression with the meaning of “bless you” after someone sneezes. No one’s death has ever been softened by it. No one’s thought has ever helped. And no prayer has ever been responded to any useful way. If prayers had any effective role in life then shit like this wouldn’t happen. So please, stop saying it. Instead go give blood.

This is Not the Time Talk About Guns: Actually, it is. It is precisely the time to talk about guns. The idiots like Sean Hannity, that piece of dog crap that’s stuck to your shoe and will not be scraped off, proclaimed loudly that it is “despicable” to do so. Bull. When we have a train wreck, we talk about rail safety. Hurricane Harvey hits Houston and we talk about doing something about the flood plain that development has created there. A mine shaft collapses and we talk about improving safety and working conditions in mines. And I don’t want to the hear the crap that those other things were different because they weren’t the direct action of some nut. Remember the “Tylenol murders?” Someone put poison in bottles of Tylenol and put them back on the shelf. Seven people died and a series of copy-cat poisonings soon followed. Thirty-five years later the original culprit has still not be caught. But we talked about the crime. And we did something. Drug safety codes were enacted. Seals on all pharmaceuticals were mandated and, guess what, nothing like this has happened since.

Don’t Trample of our Constitutional Rights: No one, and I mean no one, is talking about taking away anyone’s guns. But some things need to be clear about the Constitution. Those rights outlined in the Bill Thereof are not unbounded rights. There are restrictions. Yes, the 1st Amendment gives Americans freedom of speech and the press but you cannot say anything you wish. A specific, open call to induce violence against others is forbidden. If you think you have total freedom of speech trying calling openly for the murder of a president or a supreme court justice and see how fast your right is ended. The same amendment has the so-called “Establishment Clause” providing for freedom of religion but there are laws restricting how you can practice your freely chosen faith. You cannot have human sacrifices, you cannot have multiple spouses, you cannot refuse to have medical science save the life of your infant, you cannot discriminate against anyone on racial grounds — no matter what your religion preaches. Ditto for guns. There are lots of restrictions on who can own and use various firearms. It’s time to put more in place.

Don’t Politicize Guns: More bull crap. Guns are political. They’ve been so since the 2nd Amendment was added to the Constitution. If you don’t think they’ve always been politicized why do you think that in most states there are few regulations in place governing the purchase and use of guns? We require anyone who wants to drive a car pass a test and be legally licensed. Want to drive a truck? More tests and a different license. Teach school? Ditto. Practice medicine, dentistry? Become an electrician? Plumber? Hell, we license beauty salon workers, people who do your nails, pick up your garbage. You can’t even flip burgers without passing food safety tests. We even have licenses and regulatory codes in place for things that don’t even work like homeopathy. You don’t think these are “political?” They are. Every one of these (and thousands of other) regulations got put in place over the objections of some individuals, some groups, some cluster of lobbyists. They were passed by state and local legislatures or by Congress or crafted by regulatory bodies that exist only in virtue of their creation by elected officials. It’s all political. Which, of course, is why the NRA shovels so much money into public relations and bankrolls the campaigns of those running for Congress (virtually all of whom are Republicans). And, of course, it is why an astonishing number of elected officials are totally unthinking, knee-jerk pro-gun representatives — wholly bought and owned by the arms industry.

It’s Un-American to Talk About Gun Control: Well, it may be in the minds of some but it’s also Un-American to sit idly by while over 33,000 of us die from gun violence every year. Every damned year! We kill each other (and ourselves) at rates that are unheard of in other developed countries. It’s bloody Un-American to refuse to deal with this issue when there have already been 270 “mass-murder” (four or more deaths) so far this year in the US and we still have three months to go. By comparison, there have zero mass murders using a firearm in the UK. In fact, the last one there was in 2010. The sobering statistics of the killing fields that the US has become can be found here. Every industrialized nation on the planet has figured out how to regulate guns but us. Are we that stupid? I’m beginning to conclude that we are.


Reader Comments (4)

Bravo Arthur. Wonderful post.

October 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatch

Regulation. Tell me the regulations you'd create, how it would comply with constitutional mandates on federal and state levels, and the beneficial effect those regulations, as a practical matter, would have in a society that has 300,000+ firearms already in circulation. One notion to think about: It was the liberal/progressive position that Prohibition and the War on Drugs both failed as a practical matter, regardless of how many or how draconian the laws applying to each were. Those 'wars' on inanimate (and harmful) objects resulted in nothing but making the users criminal. Discounting, for the sake of argument, whether firearms differ from alcohol or other drugs in their use and impact on our society, discuss how a war on firearms would have any result other than (1) criminalizing people who now engage in lawful behavior, (2) driving up the prices of a commodity so incredibly numerous now, and (3) injecting the same kind of violence now prevalent in the war on drugs and that existed because of Prohibition.

October 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

David conflates the debate about gun regulation with the idea that any kind of regulation over guns represents a "war on guns" by the state and is doomed to failure like Prohibition. That's, in my view, just so much NRA fuelled baloney. As Arthur points out, regulation plus public education campaigns have met a lot of social/health challenges that needed fixing in America: seat-belt laws, anti-smoking campaigns, drunk driving laws...there are lots of examples. I don't believe that a ban on assault weapons is crimping anybody's 2nd amendment rights. Assault weapons have one purpose only: the ability to commit mass murder. I don't believe that should be a citizen's right - in any country.

October 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeg Keenleyside

I repeat what I said. Every other developed nation has figured out how to limit the carnage from guns. The problem here would be more difficult because of the lack of regulations to date but not impossible. There's no sense in listing the ways to accomplish this here but they aren't difficult to see.

October 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Reber

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