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The political scrambling over the most recent mass shootings in America brings to mind our experience last March, as our cruise ship was pulling into port to visit Christchurch, New Zealand. The captain announced that a mass shooting event had just happened there and we would instead be moving on to the next port. I was shocked to have come so close to such a horrific event.

Then we saw, within a week’s time, the New Zealand government was moving to further tighten already strong restrictions on gun ownership. Now in New Zealand, one cannot have a clip of more thanĀ 7 rounds, many combat type weapons are proscribed, and one must have a license to own a gun.

This island country of less than 5 million was able to act quickly and decisively to bring more meaningful control of guns. Yet, in our great nation of 65 times the population, despite dozens and dozens of such major incidents and ongoing gun carnage, we seem unable to legislate even the most moderate of gun control.

Is this a sign that America has become too big and diverse to govern? If not what is it a sign of?

Such swift social pressure and action to remove the confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston hate murders. Thanks to the clear motives of the killer, the word “hate” became almost instantly synonymous with that battle flag, which has flown too long after the battle was lost and the issue was settled, at least legally, if not socially.

But where is the frustration and negative symbolism about the 45 calibre handgun the 21-year-pld idiot hate-monger wielded that day? Where is the outrage over the great carnage that concealed handgun could do in minutes? The confederate flag may now be more clearly understood as a lingering symbol of hate, but where is the negative social symbolism about the needless proliferation of non-hunting guns among our civilian population?

The social frustration coming out of the Charleston massacre seems to have been channeled away from the tangible gun issue to the largely intangible flag issue. In a way, it’s too bad there had not been an image of a gun superimposed on that flag, and the guns thus symbolically associated with the hate attributed to the flag.

Take down the hateful flag! Take down the hateful guns!

What is a gun? A means of killing game. A way to threaten, stop, and/or kill an antagonist.

A gun is a remote killing machine. It is a mechanical extension of the fist, or a club, or an arrow.

Point a gun in the direction of a living target, pull a trigger, and if everything works correctly, both mechanically and on the part of the operator, the target is engaged and terminated.

Yes, that’s right, a gun is the predecessor of the drones of today — it is a remote killing machine that dates to medieval times, and one that is still being perfected. Our fascination and horror of the flying drones of the 21st century is no greater than that felt about the rise of guns hundreds of years ago.

The wonder at the power of remote killing, with concomitant reduced risk to the killer, is a magnet for the predatory instincts of humankind.

As the world evolves its social institutions, bringing us closer and closer together through our common bonds as human beings, our predatory instincts and our arsenal of precision predatory tools remains, and even grows. It is one of the great dichotomies of the human condition.

Whether we are considering gun legislation or drawing the rules of military engagement, we must consider these critical, divergent, conflicting dimensions of our fundamental character.


On Morning Joe today, someone suggested we should celebrate Congress, which is apparently getting together on background checks applicable to gun show and gun shop weapon purchases. I guess we are so disillusioned with our Congress, that any little progress at all is cause for celebration. BS. What little Congress has the potential to do to stem gun violence they have proven largely incapable of (biG surprise). What happened to assault gun sale prohibitions, and restrictions on large magazines?

Even if our impotent Congress did everything possible legislatively, it would hardly make a dent in the gun violence issue. Until private ownership of assault guns, large magazines, automatic weapons, and pistols (except small caliber target pistols) are restricted to the police and military, gun violence will continue substantially unabated.

The 2nd amendment calls for “well-regulated militias” to be allowed to be armed. That means the military. Is that so hard to understand? Someone said to me yesterday, “do I think knives should be restricted, too?” No. Guns offer the opportunity for remote killing, and can be wielded with vastly greater efficiency and effect than knives, or bows and arrows. That’s why guns were invented. So let’s get real — guns extend and increase our human ability to damage others, exponentially.

Yes, people deserve to be able to hunt with guns, and defend themselves, but they don’t have to be armed to the teeth with military-type and concealed weapons to do so. People, and even Congress, know this, and our collective failure to act on this knowledge could be the death of us, and not just philosophically.

December 2022

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