FIRST WE'VE GOT 
TO CHANGE THE CULTURE

   A couple of weeks ago I started writing a column on gun control. Like every American, I was horrified by the latest mass shootings and set out to investigate how anyone could rationalize the sale and use of military-style assault weapons by private citizens.
   I never finished the column. I was expecting to come up with a rock solid argument that any rational person could not dispute. But after researching various issues, I was overwhelmed by the complexity of what is seemingly so simple.
  I looked at the statistics. I looked at other countries like Australia, Canada and Great Britain, where mass shootings pale in comparison to the United States. I talked to some conservative friends, and got their opinions. I read about the different definitions of assault weapons, semi-automatic, automatic, bump stocks and more. It was mind-boggling.
   I researched the laws on the books, starting with the 2nd Amendment. Federal laws, state laws, local laws. All over the board. I didn't even know where to start.
   I tried, though. I began with a description of a great television commercial for gun control that ran not long ago. It shows a disgruntled employee racing past a screaming receptionist and then firing a shot at a co-worker, which misses. Everyone scatters and runs for the exit as the shooter, who fired a musket, stuffs gunpowder down the barrel of the gun in a futile attempt to reload and fire again before everyone is gone.
   The tagline, in a clear attack on those who use the 2nd Amendment as evidence of their argument for less restrictive gun laws, was "Guns Have Changed." Seems so simple, so straightforward, so sensible. Outlaw all guns that don't require reloading. That's what I wanted to write about. That's what I wanted to say.
   I can still say it, and I will, but I don't believe for a second that it will ever happen. What I realized from my limited research is that there is a gun culture in this country that will never be denied. That's why I stopped mid-column with my arguments for gun control. It just sounded nave.
   Please don't misunderstand. I will always be a proponent for gun control and will continue to argue the logic of eliminating, ideally, all guns, and at the very least, all semi-automatic or automatic weapons from our lives.
   I'm saddened to say, however, that the gun culture in this country will ensure that guns of all types will always be available to anyone who wants them. And there are millions of people out there who want them.
   Heroin is illegal, cocaine is illegal, but it is readily available to users because there is a drug culture in this country that will not be denied. The same holds true for gun enthusiasts. They are addicted to their guns, and for many of them it's a matter of having the biggest and the best. When the revolution comes, they will not be shortchanged.
   Follow the money. The NRA, the gun manufacturers, the ammo providers, the gun retailers---this is an industry that will never go away quietly. There will always be guns of all types in this country, newer and more lethal all the time. We can have strict controls in California, and gun lovers will drive to Nevada. Restrict them in Nevada, and gun lovers will drive to Mexico. Just like drugs, the black market will thrive.
   Check out the internet chat rooms of gun enthusiasts in this country. I did, and it's scary. There is no compromise. Freedom to protect themselves and their family trumps (pardon the pun) everything else. They will get their hands on the most lethal weapons they can find, simply because they feel it offers them the best protection from the other guy. That's the culture that dominates many parts of this country, and it's not going to change anytime soon.
   So what do gun control advocates like myself do? We continue to push for tighter restrictions. We continue to push for a ban on assault weapons. We continue to make it as difficult as possible for an individual to obtain a firearm that can inflict mass casualties on innocent victims.
   I'm just saying we'll never be gun free, no matter how hard we try. Maybe the best we can do is spend boatloads of money on mental health, hoping we can identify and treat the random deranged gun owner before they act.
   I wish we could do more. I wish I could be more positive. I wish for simpler times, when muskets ruled the world.

 

 

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