(Oct 2017) Gun Rights, Trump Life and Liberty in America

David M. Fitzpatrick


And now it's Las Vegas. Just one more mass shooting in a country where stupid people fight to make gun rights holy and above any sort of reasonable management.

This won't change anything, of course. The Republicans will continue to bend over for the NRA and blindly defend unlimited gun rights as if there should be no rational control over guns. I wonder how the right-wing conservative nut jobs in the NRA might change their tune if someone used automatic weapons to open fire on an NRA gun rally. Think of it: Thousands of gun-toting attendees who believe that the right to bear arms is absolutely holy and should never be subject to any sort of limitation, all in one place, when some nut job other than the nut jobs gathered there opens up from a hidden position. Maybe he’s 32 stories up and 1,700 feet away, too far away for anyone to do anything about it. He opens up with an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine, and he just keeps shooting. Maybe he reloads. Maybe he grabs another at-the-ready weapon. And when it’s done, dozens or hundreds of people who believe that owning guns is necessary to protect themselves are all dead, and hundreds injured.

I wonder how quickly they’d defend that shooter then. I wonder if they’d consider that maybe controlling who gets what kinds of guns might make sense after all. It’s easy to preach “no gun control” when you’re not the one getting gunned down by a person who should never have had assault weapons in the first place.

We need that gun control, but the GOP won’t ever let it happen. It's the Republicans who continue to do the NRA's bidding, who refuse to enact common-sense legislation, who block Democratic attempts to enact common-sense legislation, who receive ridiculous amounts of money from the NRA, and who make up excuses every time something like this happens. They do this with straight faces, demanding moments of silence instead of demanding that rational thought take over the discussion instead of a childish gluing to the concept that gun right should never be limited. Barack Obama was right: These people do cling to their guns and religion, and in both cases do their best to force their worldview on the rest of us.

Before anyone assumed that I’m a blind liberal who just wants to take your guns away: No, I am an eyes-wide-open liberal who wants to take your guns away. Guns are a right, but like the key theme in Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. Guns are indeed a great power, but the NRA wants no limitations on that power, including not one bit of responsibility. Everyone should be able to have all the guns they want and there shouldn’t be any qualifications required to do so.


The NRA and the GOP Support the Killing

I know exactly what I’m talking about. I have a concealed-carry permit in the state of Maine; when I got it, I was required under Maine law to take an NRA-certified course. A few years later, the idiot lawmakers here took away that requirement. They call it “Constitutional carry” based on the ridiculous notion that the Second Amendment should never have limitations. My permit expires this month, and I will pay to renew it on general principles. (Also, some states recognize Maine permits, but will not allow me to carry there without a permit. It’s worth noting that the NRA is now trying to force all states to recognize all other states’ permits. Yes, that’s a real thing. Next up will be forcing all states to allow Constitutional carry. Mark my words.)

But back to the NRA-certified course. This was a few hours in a classroom and a few hours on a shooting range. The classroom time was overwhelmingly filled with dire warnings about how the recent first election of Barack Obama put our gun rights in the worst state they had ever been. He was going to take our guns, the Second Amendment was doomed, and so on. This was supposed to be a gun-safety course, but really it was a rambling far-right conservative bitch-fest based on paranoia and a complete lack of focus on the reality of guns in America. What it should have been—and what states should convert to—is a true gun-safety course that is overseen by something more intelligent than the NRA, certified by law enforcement, and required to be repeated every few years. I would have no trouble signing up for that.

Good luck with that pipe dream, with Republicans in charge. It was under a Democratic president that a loophole was closed in federal gun laws that prevented mentally ill people from buying handguns. One of the first things this new Republican Congress under this disastrous Republican excuse for a president was to undo that loophole. What kind of people deliberately goes out of their way to open a previously closed loophole to allow mentally ill people to have firearms? I'll give you a hint. It's not Democrats.

Gun-rights advocates argue that gun laws won't stop crazy people from going on a rampage such as what we have just endured. This is a diversionary tactic that has frankly become tired and disgusting. Common-sense gun laws WILL reduce the chance of a potential crazy person getting his hands on guns in the first place. Nobody believes it will stop all gun crimes. The far-right will have everyone believe that's what liberals believe, but it's not.

There's no reason people should be able to buy semiautomatic weapons of high-capacity magazines. That might have had a pretty good effect on what happened in Las Vegas. "The right to bear arms" -- like the Founding Fathers had any concept of the kinds of weapons people use to do such horrible things today. Where does it stop? People should be able to own rocket launchers and tote them to the mall? Maybe tactical nuclear weapons? Ridiculous.

If he had not been able to buy all those assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, would this tragedy have happened? Would 58 people be dead and 500+ injured? He would never have done that kind of damage with handguns from the 32nd floor 1,700 feet away. To even try to kill and wound so many would require him to be down there in the middle of the festival. Could have killed 58 people with a handgun before someone tackled him? I don't think so.

This is why we need common-sense gun control—not to prevent every gun death, but to prevent mass gun deaths in horrific scenes like this. Stop them from buying assault weapons. End high-capacity clips. Have red flags go up when someone buys a giant pile of guns.

But to argue that common-sense safeguards, protections, checks, and balances are useless is irresponsible. The Bill of Rights is great. But there are checks on all of our rights. There are limitations on all of them. We have freedom of speech, but it's still illegal to yell fire in a crowded theater when there isn't a fire, or to threaten to kill someone. We have freedom of the press, but if the press abuses that freedom and libels someone, be held accountable. There is no reasonable, rational, logical justification that the right to bear arms is 100 percent holy and cannot be limited in any way.


It's Long Past Time for Change

Those outside of the United States often have trouble understanding why this is so difficult. I have trouble with it, to be fair. But it’s because of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms. I won’t belabor it here, but in short, changing the Constitution is a very difficult process, and when a large segment of the population is afraid that the government will take their guns away completely, the process is even more difficult. Solving this won’t be about amending the Constitution; it will be about enacting common-sense controls on gun ownership. Other rights in the Bill of Rights are limited in many ways; to not limit this one is nothing short of insane.

Gun control will never prevent all gun deaths. No sane person would believe that. But common-sense gun control will reduce it. But we're not doing that, and it really IS the GOP that is doing everything to stop it. Instead of talking about what we can do to make things better, Congress has moments of silence and everyone prays. The White House says that this is not the time to talk about it. This is the EXACT TIME to talk about it. This is the EXACT TIME to act on it. But they won't. They'll not act. They'll ignore this. They'll couch their ignorance in the holiness of gun rights. And someone else will buy assault weapons and high-capacity clips and gun down dozens more innocent people and injure many more. And this will keep happening, over and over and over. There will always be someone else.

Maybe it’s time to interpret “the right to bear arms” as being arms other than firearms. Think about it: A guy with a knife has to get up close and personal to do damage. He won’t take out a crowd with a knife. You know, unless he has an semiautomatic knife thrower and can attack from a great distance.

The red on the flag seems less like representing the blood of those who died for our freedom and more for those who died because the NRA believes that one freedom is worth however many innocent lives it takes to protect that freedom. That is what is very tragic in these senseless mass murders: They were probably preventable. If gun control had been where it needs to be, this crazy bastard in Las Vegas would not have had those assault weapons and all those rounds, and a lot more people would be alive and unhurt today.

But hey—they asked for it, right? They willingly went into a public place at a music festival, in full view of plenty of sniper points, in a country that they all know very well prizes the right to own assault weapons over their safety. I guess that will teach them—just the way those Pulse victims had the audacity to try to enjoy an evening out in Florida. Just the way those children at Sandy Hook learned their lesson for having the audacity to go to school. Just how every innocent person learned his lesson in every mass shooting this country has seen, and for every one that we will see in the future. Keep an eye on the news. It will happen soon enough. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be a victim! Your name will be forever honored as one who gave his life in defense of the Second Amendment.

The saddest part about that sarcastic paragraph is that there are certainly people in this country who would say the same things WITHOUT sarcasm. Yes, people truly believe that things like that are part of living in this free country with the marvelous right to own guns.

If we're not willing to enact common-sense gun control to do our very best to try to reduce the senseless, innocent deaths, then what does that say about us? And if we are truly THAT despicable, then maybe we don't deserve the right to bear arms at all, and we need to begin the process to amend the Constitution to severely curtail it. And I say that as a gun owner and believer in the right to bear arms. But I believe in common-sense gun control, and if we can't have that, then perhaps it's time to do things differently.


A long time contributor to The Cud, David M. Fitzpatrick is a writer based in Maine, USA. His many short stories have appeared in print magazines and anthologies around the world. He writes for a newspaper, writes fiction, edits anthologies, and teaches creative writing. Visit him at www.fitz42.net/writer to learn more.