Sorry, I hate going so long without a new post but my mother passed away and I was very occupied as a result. I spent some time in Florida where she lived in a gated community not so far from where Trayvon Martin died and I was kind of amazed how many gun stores I saw on the highway. There were lots of cancer clinics, liposuction clinics, face lift clinics, fast food drive-ins, tattoo parlors, paycheck advance shops and discount liquor stores, but more than just about anything there were gun stores. One every few blocks. I remember one was called Point Blank Guns.
I guess a lot of people there are afraid. I was listening to a Florida talk show and it occurred to me that Americans need so many guns because so many Americans have guns. Simple as that. And now that election is in the air we’ve got everybody talking about how Obama wants to take the guns away, perhaps by reinstating the assualt weapons ban that expired in 2004. Suddenly Mitt Romney is a hunter (sable? ermine? mink? chinchilla?) and they want people licensed to carry concealed weapons to be able to take them everywhere in America. Oddly it seems that it’s the states rights folks who want this. Anyway I thought I’d republish a piece from 2001, not too long after the Columbine High School shooting that killed 15. Since this piece was published there have been 149 more school shooting fatalities in the U.S.. These figures do not included post offices.
It’s easy to get mixed up by what’s going on with high school kids today. I mean, back in my day we used to blow up the school once in a while but it never involved more than a single cherry bomb and a single toilet. I do remember one more organized terrorist effort. When Nixon was elected president, students were planning an action called Flush for Freedom.
The idea was that the first time Mr. Nixon, in his inaugural address, uttered the word freedom, we were all to flush our toilets immediately. Theoretically this would blow out plumbing systems all over the United States, or at least those on many campuses with ROTC programs. Frankly I missed my flush, I think, because having taken LSD, I noticed that the inauguration telecast was being sponsored by Sinclair Oil, whose symbol, a brontosaurus, symbolized extinction.
Suddenly I had become convinced that Nixon was to be the very last President of the United States. This threw off my timing and I missed the flush on the word freedom, which might, perhaps, have been the straw that broke the water systems back, at least on my campus in Washington, D.C.. This stunt, by the way, was, I believe, inspired by an actual student prank that had been organized many years before at the U.S.Military Academy.
But, I digress. Let’s get back to these nutty kamikaze nerds, such as the self styled Trench Coat Mafia, who have recently been threating our high schools in this unstable mid-millenium shift. Now this side over here says that it’s the extraordinary access to firearms in our society that’s causing this mayhem. This side over there says, no, our right to bear arms in guaranteed by the United States Constitution and, if anything, these teens are being destabilized by a deadly combination of violent Hollywood films, violent video games and pharmeceutical anti-depressants. No, says the other side. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
Clearly there’s a deadlock here that may threaten the Constitution while plans for more copycat apocalyptic revenges of the nerds are coming to light every day. What’s a mother to do? I mean we love our constitution. But now areas of it are getting gray. The tasteless and worthless Jenny Jones loses a $25 million suit pressed by a man who claims he was driven to kill by being embarrassed on her show. The Supreme Court is allowing a law suit to be heard against Oliver Stone and the producers of Natural Born Killers, who are being held responsible for inspiring a young couple to go on a killing spree. People are just being driven to do things at an unprecedented rate.
I think it’s the fault of the tobacco companies. Ever since we discovered that they drove people to kill themselves against their will by smoking, there has been an extraordinary epidemic of powerlessness. I guess the surge in 12 step programs and law school matriculations have also contributed to the notion of powerlessness. It is only a matter of time before alcoholics are suing the liquor companies for cirhossis and the obese, or avordupoisly challenged, sue Land O’Lakes because butter is addictive.
I was taught in Catholic School that we all have free will, but the state is a separate thing, and the government seems to be moving to a position where we don’t have free will, we are all Manchurian Candidates and Pavlov dogs, controlled by hidden persuaders. I have never been driven to smoke by advertising, although the Marlboro man may have made me a latent homosexual, nor have I been driven to violence by Oliver Stone movies. But I do think that adults should monitor what their children are watching, and that no children under thirteen would be very interested in “Kids” or “Happiness” anyway.
But I do think I have a solution to this “Right to Bear Arms” problem. Now I don’t think that there’s a soul out there, or not more than a million anyway, who interpret this section of the Bill of Rights to mean the right to bear any kind of arms whatsoever. Citizens are definitely not allowed to bear nuclear arms and surface to air missles and landmines are definitely out; so certain restriction are implicit to this right. Since the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1790, it may be that only weapons extant in that year (not the actual weapons but the technology) should be covered since we can’t expect our forefathers to be science fiction thinkers.
I know that the NRA believes we need automatic weapons to down game but that’s wacko, I can down a deer with nothing more than my Mercedes Benz, and I know that part of the NRA believes we need automatic weapons to ensure that we can overthrow the government if it becomes necessary, but that’s wacko, as the military will always have superior firepower to any insurgent group of freedom fighters. The fact is that the right to bear arms does not mean “all arms.” If it does, I personally, would like to station a cruise missle in my garage, but as it is, I shall try to make do with my battering ram and catapult. But I think for the purposes intended by the Founding Fathers, late 18th century technology is more than sufficient. You have to draw the line somewhere. We are not permitted to own ballistic missles, nuclear warheads, landmines, machine guns, bazookas or mortars. And it’s a good thing mortars are outlawed, at least for the spec house developers in my neighborhood. So since we have have to draw the line somewhere, I suggest we draw it at about 1787, the year the constititution was adopted. Supreme Court justices Scalia, Thomas and Bork are famous as “originalists,” whil They believe that that we should uphold the constititution as it was intended and written by the founding fathers. I’m siding with that theory in this case. I can’t imagine John Hancock being in favor of widespread ownership of the Army’s XM8 assault rifle that fires 750 rounds per minute, even though the word “overkill” was not used until 1946.
I think every citizen should be permitted to carry a muzzle loader , a sword, a battle axe, quarterstaff, pike, spear or mace (not mace,). (No pikes or spears in the subway please.) I think cudgels, dirks, longbows, machetes, bolos, dudgeons, poniards, halberds, tomahawks, javelins, spontoons and polaxes, should be available to civilians, and if you wish to walk down 42nd Street carrying a bastinado, a bludgeon, knobstick, loaded cane, nightstick, shillelagh, stave, truncheon, harpoon or South Seas warclub, I give you my blessing.
Come at me and you’ll be at risk from my flick cane and knobkerrie and I am confident that such traditional arms should be more than enough to provide adequate self defense for even the smallest and meekest of us. Uzis are not necessary. They are, as we say in the urban strategy business, overkill, and if they came into wisespread use they could result in what the Rand Institute called megadeaths.
But if the Trench Coat Mafia boys had been carrying flintlocks there’s no doubt that they would have been overpowered after getting off the first shot, the first shots would probably not have been fatal, and today those boys would be in reform school, unless, of course, they had managed to fall on their swords, Roman-style, before capture.
I have my Grandfather’s old Naval Academy sword lying around the house, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t be afraid to use it if threatened by an intruder. On the other hand, I don’t have to worry about it going off accidentally. It’s in a very handsome scabbard on a beautiful gold buckled belt and it looks quite good with tailored clothing. Yes, I support the right to bear arms, but only weapons that are Grandfathered.