IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE
ONCE UPON A TIME, a very famous, and beloved, TV bigot suggested that to stop all airplane hijackings we simply arm all the passengers. That line, uttered in 1972 by "All in the Family’s" Archie Bunker, got the big laugh that an absurd solution to a serious problem justly deserved. Just over 40 years ago, that line of delirious logic made very little sense to most Americans, and so made us laugh.
Fast forward to the supposedly more enlightened 21st century, and Archie’s famous Hijacking Cure now makes far too much sense to far too many Americans. A hefty percentage of the population believes exactly that: The more guns we have, the safer we are.
If only it were true.
But it’s not. The citizens of the U.S. own more guns than any other nation—nearly 300 million firearms –and we are, by far, the least safe of any modern, industrialized nation.
Let us fly, quickly, through just a few of the more uncontested and unsettling statistics:
We are only 5% of the world’s population, but for the last 50 years our nation accounted for 31% of the world’s mass murders by firearms.
In the last three decades alone, there have been over 70 mass shootings in America. Guess how many were halted by someone with a gun? Some claim two, others say zero. Either way, when it really counts, there is no dependable line of defense against mass murder in our massively armed nation.
More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Let that sink in for a moment.
Finally, how big is 1,400%? This big: American children are 14 times more likely to die from guns than children in other developed countries.
The list of past-sad, now-perverse gun murder statistics is much longer. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter one whit to the rabid defenders of the Second Amendment (starting with the fact that they have significantly misinterpreted their favorite amendment).
It doesn’t matter to self-appointed militias, posse runners, vigilantes, make-believe cowboys, and all the others who deputize themselves for any reason, or for no reason.
It surely doesn’t matter to the NRA. They, more than any other entity, being the chief proponents of More Guns Equal More Safety, More Freedom, and More Peacekeeping. I mean, who can argue with that equation? Who even dares to? (Do you remember "Happiness is a Warm Gun”? Years back, this was the ironical title of a Beatles’ song. Now, it would be a well-received marketing slogan).
But every time some horrible gun violence erupts and there are calls (cries, desperate pleas, begging) for some slight, commonsense legislation, all that the Gun Lovers have to do is reply to the cries with a howl. Over and over, they howl the same old song: They want to take our guns away!
It’s an old song, a tired song, and an untrue song—but it works. And it works every single time, and in almost every Red State, and some Blue ones, too. Most woefully, it works—despite national polls that show up to 90% support for some basic gun purchase rules and restrictions—with the majority of politicians, Democrats as well as Republicans.
Even under Liberal Obama, gun sales have soared. Shoot first, pacify after Stand Your Ground Laws have poison-mushroomed to 33 states (because if George Zimmerman is not a national role model, then well, who is?). Open Carry Laws have grown state by state by state (but come on, who doesn’t want to go shopping in the nearest mall or dining at the local Pizza Palace without someone’s assault rifle poking you in the side ribs?).
Not that the most heavily or lethally armed simians much care, but the rest of the world looks at us and wonders how in God’s name the polio-curing, man on the moon-achieving, magic movie-making, Apple products-producing country has gone so frightfully, and most ballistically, out of its mind.
It is a question, sadly, that no one person, no matter their depth, could ever fully answer. Even the dozens of books we have, well researched by author-experts, all fail to properly satisfy the despondent curiosity of our aching hearts.
So here, now, with my own anger turned to sarcasm and my deeper frustrations turned to a bitter kind of retrenchment, I am left, like the rest of us are left, half numb, looking at these non-stop stories of irrational carnage. Here are just two…
On Monday August 24, 2015 a Louisiana highway patrol officer stopped to help a man whose truck appeared to be stranded. He was thanked by a shotgun blast to his face by this peculiar American worshipper of death, who, after shooting him, stood over his body and said, "You’re lucky. You’re going to die soon." He did just that; wrenching his 45-year-old public-serving soul away from a wife and 9-year-old son. Two days later, on the last Wednesday in August, an enthusiastic and earnest reporter, who had just turned 24, a local girl on the cusp of everything, along with her 27 year old cameraman, by all accounts a decent and chipper fellow, were gunned down while interviewing a woman from the Chamber of Commerce in the generally pleasant Roanoke, Virginia area. A routine and altogether benign local television morning interview turned malignant, and grisly. Both 20-somethings got to see their assassin, their personal Angel of Death, a former co-worker, before screaming in horror, and then dying.
How much can we take? How far can our heartstrings reel?
Now pretend you knew one of these people; that they were an old friend, a neighbor, or a cousin. How about a child? Your child.
Is there a long German word for something that makes you feel sick and terribly sad at the same time? No matter, that is how many of us feel, with or without the one right phrase. We are heart-sick, soul-deflated, and worse. Not only because we live in a country of callous gun and weapons fetishists, but all the more because we live in a nation of cowardly politicians, who know what must be done, but who refuse to do even the smallest, slightly sensible, morally valiant, and infinitesimally decent thing.
Ken Taub is a copywriter, strategic marketing advisor, author, online journalist, and associate editor of RoelResources.com. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and son.