|Orlando murder scene|
A friend I see every day in a nearby park while walking our dogs was not dismayed by the mass shootings in Orlando. I was aghast and asked him how he could support public access to assault rifles. His response outraged me.
An NRA member, he cited the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, which grants the right to bear arms so that the country would have a well-armed militia. That’s a fairly typical claim. The Founding Fathers lived in a different time, when they faced hostile Indians as well as the British. Both threats, however, have long since vanished. My friend also used spurious pro-gun quotes from the Founding Fathers, another dishonest NRA ploy.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the rest were too smart to think everyone should have a gun and carry them around. They wanted an armed militia.
My friend then said the $19 trillion federal deficit would blow up and we would need guns for defense. That, of course, is nonsense. The deficit needs to be addressed, but we owe the money to ourselves. The U.S. has the strongest economy in the world and can handle the debt load. Besides, a large chunk of it occurred when then-President George W. Bush cut taxes while committing the U.S. to war in the Middle East.
President Obama has actually reduced the deficit.
Regardless, there’s been no uproar or civic unrest fueled by the deficit. To pretend something violent is going to happen, outside of possible austerity efforts as happened in Greece, reflects more paranoia than common sense.
Then my friend insisted we needed guns to defend ourselves against the United States government. That has been a repeated National Rifle Association canard, as if average citizens, armed with any weapons, could stand up to the best equipped military in the world.
More significantly, the U.S. government isn’t going to attack its citizens. Who would it govern? Besides, a quick examination of history shows that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have never been sent into action against American citizens not would ever be since the armed forces are under civilian command.
|Ohio National Guard at Kent State|
The only two instances when government soldiers shot at Americans occurred in 1770 when British soldiers fired into a threatening crowd and killed five people. A jury, made up of Americans, found all of the soldiers, except the commanding office, not guilty of any crime.
The other occasion occurred 200 years later, May 4, 1970, when ill-trained Ohio National Guard shot and killed four students at Kent State University. Again, a jury found the Guardsmen were not liable.
That’s it. In our entire history, U.S.; troops have not fired on American citizens. They aren’t going to start now.
Nor did my friend see anything wrong with everyone carry weapons. That’s an idea easily refuted. All he had to do is look at a time in the American West, when, for close to 60 years, guns were normal adornments.
|Sample Western gun control|
What happened when towns like Deadwood, Wichita or Tombstone incorporated? They immediately passed laws preventing anyone from wearing guns within the city limits. They didn’t confiscate guns. They didn’t ban guns. They simply restricted their use so gunmen didn’t willy-nilly kill people. Guess what? Death rates fell.
In states in this country with gun control, the death rates from weapons are far lower than in states that have limited restrictions. It’s as simple as that.
Adding to the absurdity, the terrorist who killed at least 50 people in Orlando was able to legally obtain guns even though he was on the FBI watch list because Congress voted down a bill that would have permitted the FBI to restrict his ability to obtain weapons. The FBI could prevent him from getting on a plane, but can’t stop him from purchasing weapons used for mass murder.
I find that completely insane.
My friend said I am naïve. I think his views are both dangerous and illogical. He said I’ll see the truth in 20 years when the government attacks fellow Americans. I doubt he’ll ever recognize how absurd that statement is.
After all, the NRA and its followers have made ridiculous claims before. For example, in 2012, NRA President Wayne LaPierre claimed that a reelected Obama would erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights. Wrong again.
And wrong on allowing average citizens to easily obtain and then use assault rifles.
Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history. He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida. You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.net. He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion. His most recent book is Passover in Prison, which details abuse of Jewish inmates in American prisons. His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. He can also be followed on Twitter.
You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1