Monday, April 16, 2012

Behind the Iron Curtain

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum announced this week at an NRA meeting that he has purchased a lifetime NRA membership for his 3 year old daughter, Bella.  Bella, who at the age of 3 understands the concept of object permanence but not that stuffed animals are not living things, fully supports the right of Americans to keep and bear arms.  Of course, it is entirely possible that she believes that the right to bear arms means you can hug any teddy bear and expect the bear to hug you in return.

Newt Gingrich announced this week, also at that NRA meeting, that the right to own a gun in America comes from God.  The right to use the gun is sometimes granted by Satan to our enemies abroad, but Gingrich did not include this caveat.  Now at least I know what God was doing on that 7th day.  He was over at Smith and Wesson cooking up some tools for His chosen religious freedom fighters.  Can I get some celebratory gunfire into the air?!!?
If the right to own a gun is God given, and children below the age of reason can be gun-rights advocates, it won’t be long before an unborn fetus will be allowed to exercise his or her right as a person to own a firearm.  I guess asking for trigger locks on rifles implanted in a mother’s womb would be too restrictive a measure for this crowd, although the forcible implant of that rifle would be perfectly reasonable. 
In Rick Santorum’s America, over a million card carrying members of the NRA are aborted each year.  Had the fetuses been armed, perhaps this tragedy could have been prevented.  What doctor in his right mind would try to terminate a pregnancy if they could face down the barrel of an assault weapon carried by a multicellular being acting on pure instinct?  It would be difficult to argue that the fetus wasn’t acting in self-defense given the circumstances, however.

This might seem to be an exaggerated idea of how far gun rights advocates could take their argument, but we need not pretend.   It’s already gotten ridiculous.

The city of Tampa, in preparation to play host to the Republican National Convention in August, released a long list of those items that will be considered security threats.  As we all know, the protection of our political leaders is crucial to maintaining faith in our democratic system.  The list includes such dangerous weapons as water pistols (could be confused with real pistols), masks (could be worn by Occupy protestors, and we heard on Hannity that they are dangerous), and pieces of string (these could be woven together to make a piece of yarn, and we know how yarn can be used to torture cats).  Clearly, this is a comprehensive list, as well it should be.

Somehow, guns did not make the list of security threats in Tampa.  We all know that pieces of string don’t kill; people do, but why are guns not consider a security threat at the GOP convention?  Guns can be infinitely more deadly than a mask (assuming the mask has air holes).  Real guns can cause more damage than a water pistol, unless it’s a real big water pistol and drowning from a well-placed head shot becomes a possibility. 
The answer is simple.  The party of law and order is having their convention in the state of law and order, Florida.  Florida law prohibits any local restrictions on guns beyond state law.  Therefore, guns are good to go this summer in Tampa.  It’s the Eisenhower MAD (mutually assured destruction) philosophy gone micro.  If everyone in Tampa is armed, everyone will be afraid to shoot anyone else for fear of massive retaliation in the form of a shower of bullets.  This might be true, but if I were at the convention, I’d still steer clear of Rick Perry after he’s had a few drinks, just in case.

In a twisted way, it makes sense that if we are all in constant fear of one another, we’ll be safer.  If I am always worried that the guy next to me has a 12 gauge while all I’m packing is a Saturday Night Special, I am more inclined to get along with my neighbor.  After all, he could kill me, and that should be motivation enough to be friendly.

There could be another way, couldn’t there?  Do we have to carry the childhood lessons of “Stranger Danger” with us our whole lives and be prepared to shoot first, or can we occasionally disarm and engage one another as mature adults?  Maybe I’ve hugged too many trees and the bark really is worse than the bite.  Given the trends in housing, the people have spoken with their mortgages and Stranger Danger is winning in a landslide.

According to the NY Times, more than 10 million homes in the United States are located within gated communities.  That number represented more than 10% of all occupied homes in this country.  Even more troubling is the trend.  There has been a 53% increase between 2001 and 2009 in the number of homes behind these voluntary iron curtains.  Apparently, as gun laws are weakened across the country, and gun ownership is on the rise, the level of fear is rising too.  Fear must be good for business.

Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, did his best pitch for more gun sales with this paranoid rant late last year:

“[The Obama campaign] will say gun owners — they’ll say they left them alone.  In public, he’ll remind us that he’s put off calls from his party to renew the Clinton [assault weapons] ban, he hasn’t pushed for new gun control laws… The president will offer the 2nd Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he’s actually been good for the 2nd Amendment.”

“But it’s a big fat stinking lie!” the NRA leader exclaimed. “It’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the 2nd Amendment in our country.”

“Obama himself is no fool. So when he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep and play us for fools in 2012. Well, gun owners are not fools and we are not fooled.”

He may be completely irrational and consumed with conspiracy theories, but the man certainly knows how to sell guns.  He’s pretty good at selling real estate in gated communities too, just like the gated community where Trayvon Martin was gunned down.  Good lots are still available there, now at a discount.

If you’re headed to Tampa this August, I recommend you stay in your hotel room and watch the convention on TV.  You might bump into Rick Perry while jogging, and that will probably end badly for you.

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