The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check USA
Guns: Money, Politics & Hyperbole
a measured approach to increasing background checks and closing gun-show loopholes as a minor but at least positive step in perhaps toning down the nearly 30,000 gun-related deaths in this country
If my December 9 column, MASS SHOOTING IN SAN BERNADINO, or as it is better known among the faithful, “Blah, blah, blah…” is any indication, I, nor anyone else have anything new or particularly salient to say about guns and violence in this country. I have written at least fifty or more columns since 1997 detailing basic human nature, the price and sacrifice relative freedom puts upon its citizenry, and the sordid history of this nation, and so there will be nothing in here approaching the cause or half-baked swipe at solutions to the inordinate amount of guns we enjoy or the misuse of said guns.
What we will discuss now, in the wake of our president’s recent emotional speech at the White House and live CNN town hall, and finally, and more importantly, his executive actions to curtail the mass shootings and illegal and surreptitious flow of weapons throughout the United States, is the way in which the specter of all this is good business in several corners of our society.
I see this issue as nothing more than a pathetic off-shoot of Prohibition or the woeful failure of the War on Drugs or any other debate on the symptoms of our nature.
Staying with Barack Obama for a moment; the notion that this president is not a big fan of guns is not some kind of myth, like his Islamic leanings or his country of origin or the completely outlandish notion that what may be the most Wall Street-friendly president since Herbert Hoover is some kind of closet socialist. With an accommodating congress, I do believe there would be stricter gun laws under this president. Now, some progressives may argue that this did not occur despite two years of a Democratic-controlled legislature, but I counter with a fairly sizable economic stimulus package, an unprecedented auto-industry bail-out, and the Affordable Care Act taking up the lion’s share of progressive agenda. And even though this general disdain for the gun fetish does not immediately roll over into the narrative that Obama has a secret plan to take anyone’s guns away, (we’ll get to that line of bullshit later), it is real and must be included in any analysis of the issue.
So, if Obama wishes to try and appear neutral here, it is silly and false. His previous words, actions, and his not-so-subtle notions that federal intervention on the gun issue are well documented. When he denies it, I cringe. He is not being the least bit honest and that’s okay, for if he were honest an already manically paranoid segment of the electorate would go further off the deep end.
This obvious anti-gun stance or at very least misunderstanding of the excitably fervent pro-gun contingent appears to be a real threat to those who do not wish to budge on any infringement on the Second Amendment, even though very few who argue this know anything about the Second Amendment. I cannot say I do not hold a similar if not militant defense of the First Amendment, as I have spent my adult life openly fighting against any sort of systemic censorship; banned books, jailed comedians, movie ratings, music-warning stickers, over-reach by an un-elected FCC or Christian robots robbing me of my right to free expression and to absorb others is my myopic passion. So, I get it.
And although I rate Obama’s recent White House speech on a measured approach to increasing background checks and closing gun-show loopholes as a minor but at least positive step in perhaps toning down the nearly 30,000 gun-related deaths in this country as one of his best, it is a spit in the wind. And I am not going out on a limb to guess that he knows this by his repeated mention that if he can save one life he is pleased. So of course you applaud a president in approaching this rare level of political bravery (although this is less heroic in the face of his being a lame duck with no other elections to win like his “evolving” on a civil rights issue for marriage equality in his 50s’), because behind Social Security, the American gun owner is our political third-rail. However, this may appease the nine out of ten Americans who support stricter gun laws and even the eight out of ten Republicans not strangled by the NRA gun lobby who agree, it is not a real solution, and so I scoff.
You see, despite the fact that it appears every five seconds someone kills someone else with a gun, and that virulent police activity has gone goofy, violent crimes in this country, including gun-related, have been reduced considerably in the last half-century. According to FBI reports, "The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly to the lowest rate in nearly 40 years. In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number has plunged by more than 25 percent."
So this latest maneuver by Obama is pure politics; sloppy and unhinged, but it pales in comparison to the NRA, who have a fail-safe measure to cash in on tragedy and mayhem like no other time in its existence.
The NRA has used its own perpetuating myth of Obama’s scourge on gun owners (by in large gun laws have widely expanded during his administration) by ramping up sales due to the pending idea that if one does not stock up, one will be without. Every time the president has merely mentioned guns in a speech the NRA sends out email blasts and unleashes its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre on television to rally more sales. It is brilliant, Madison Avenue type propaganda, which I applaud from a purely business standpoint, but it is hogwash, and LaPiere knows it.
LaPiere and the NRA do not care about guns rights or the Second Amendment. They care about serving their gun manufacturing masters by selling as many guns as possible.
The reason why I am sure of this is simply because he is adamant in applying guns to every measure of incident, weather terrorist or government overreach or mini-militia or you name it. You don’t get to be vice president of anything, especially a group funded for and manipulated by the gun industry, without seizing an opportunity to sell, sell, sell. As much as Obama jumps aboard every mass shooting as if an opportunity to squeeze political sympathy towards his cause, the NRA, led in public relations by LaPiere, brings up the insane idea that by buying more guns and thus arming everyone in sight that these random shootings will be abridged – as if people would come to Christmas parties armed to the teeth or kindergarten children packing, or any person generally minding their own business who are gunned down by a psycho because mommy didn’t love them or the Lithium is too expensive can be averted by buying lots of guns.
This whole thing is a con.
Small leans on gun laws or people buying more guns will do nothing to stop or even restrict the very thing that prompts these “debates” (by this we mean opportunities to con), period.
It is a con.
We are being conned from both ends.
Accept this premise, and then perhaps we can secure our own responsibility in this.
For that angle, please refer to the 50 previous columns I’ve written.
Blah, blah, blah…
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David Bowie 1947 - 2016
Bowie was our perpetual outsider – zigging when the rest of the thing zagged.
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James Campion is the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. His new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” is out now
Shout It Out Loud - The Story of KISS’s DESTROYER and the Making of an American Icon
by James Campion Backbeat Books Oct 13th 2015
In Defense of Ebenezer Scrooge
A Christmas Plea For Leniency For A Misunderstood Freethinking Capitalist - I maintain, that Scrooge, while being obstinate and crotchety, mostly rude and myopic, is hardly a villain and does not deserve the kind of black mark rendered upon him next to some of the most vile of literature’s rogues