My recent article on gun control brought more visitors to my web site than any I have posted in the past two years. I appreciate the interest and I am grateful to those who took the time either to comment or write. This is my second article on the subject. I did not intend a series, but given the breath and tone of the responses, another posting seemed to be in order.
A contagion rages. Gun sales have been running at all time highs since the Sandy Hook massacre. Apparently, few stop to think about how unlikely it is that they will be caught in a situation where they will need a gun for self defense. Crazed gunmen don’t single out a stranger’s home as a target. No parent could rush to a school or a movie theater in time with a semi-automatic weapon to intervene commando style to save the lives of those under attack. The odds are almost beyond calculating, yet thousands are reacting as if these are likely—almost eminent—scenarios.
People seem to trust that, given the threat, anyone can handle a gun with the efficiency of a psychopathic assassin. They obviously believe that they will react with a murderous calm despite a rush of adrenalin, the awareness of another human threatening them, and the need for urgency. Apparently, they see themselves taking deadly aim with a steady hand and dispatching their adversary with clinical precision. Add a high capacity magazine, and aiming isn’t necessary. Just keep firing until the villain is down, but keep an eye out for grandma’s china.
Giving Even One Child Better Odds of Surviving . . .
My contention all along has been that high-capacity magazines and military style assault weapons should be banned. Further, I believe that background checks must be extended to include sales at gun shows and other fair style markets. If only one child’s life is saved by enacting this legislation, it is worth it. No other argument makes sense. What the NRA is saying is that these massacres cannot be prevented. They oppose any steps to limit the efficiency of the killer. The NRA is effectively saying that they don’t care if a few children and other innocents lose their lives because the freedom to own any kind of gun and to carry it anywhere is more important.
When I first moved to North Carolina in 1978, I was amazed to see people flock to the stores whenever a snow storm was forecast and stock up on milk, bread and other staples for fear of being forced to go without. They acted as if they expected to be isolated by bad weather for days on end. Their rush to fill the fridge and pantry was fueled by dread—that they will be cut off from their food and water supplies for an intolerable length of time and be gravely inconvenienced; perhaps even suffer death because of these deprivations. Something from the DNA of the early pioneers must be firing off the synapses that motivate modern man to react as if hunkered down in a log cabin miles from the nearest neighbor, low on fire wood and butchering the family pet to survive. That is how dread works in a relatively harmless way. When it comes to guns, however, the subject turns quite deadly.
The Power of Dread . . .
Fear, one author wrote, is rational, reality based and quantifiable. An angry dog charging a person gives rise to fear. Dread on the other hand is not reality based. Its power comes from the fact that it cannot be quantified. Thus a person can so dread an encounter with an angry dog that leaving the house at all is unthinkable. Dread doesn’t yield to any analysis or statistical probability. It persists even when reasonable measures are taken to prevent the dreaded threat from occurring. Dread has taken over when it comes to guns today. Having a loaded gun in the closet may reduce the level of dread by creating a false sense of security for the owner. The odds that an innocent party will fall victim to the gun are, however, far greater than the probability that it will ever be used against an intruder. The owner’s household, in other words, is less safe than it would be with no gun on the premises. Read the rest of this entry »