How did things ever get so far? More people die by firearms in this country than by traffic fatalities. For the record, I am entirely pareve when it comes to guns, just as I am entirely pareve when it comes to cars (not really as far as cars, but that’s for another article). I neither maintain that we have a “HaShem given right” to prevent a normal rational person from legally obtaining a firearm nor do I maintain that we have a “HaShem given right” to prevent a normal rational person from legally obtaining driver’s license and/or a car. Unlike the vast majority of substandard legislators that we are plagued with in this country, I recognize that the issue is not, nor has it ever been, gun control. The issue is and has always been people control! And until our leaders recognize this, any legislation that they propose with regard to curbing mindless murders in this country will (at best) be a shot in the dark.
Together with countless other baby boomers, I grew up on The Rifleman, Have Gun Will Travel, Gun Smoke, Bonanza and Wanted Dead or Alive; together with countless other baby boomers, at the age of 5, I walked around with a replica pistol of the one carried by Josh Logan, aka Steve McQueen of Wanted Dead or Alive, along with a holster and an ample supply of caps for “shooting outlaws”. Yet, we baby boomers went through school without the slightest concern or fear that a fellow student would enter a classroom with a real firearm and create carnage. Why was that? Could it have been that our culture — State, Church and Home — stressed the sanctity of human life? Might it have been possible that human beings were considered to have had more worth than they do now? Or was it simply that it was totally unacceptable to take the life of an innocent human being?
Richard Gordon o.b.m. was a photographer of renown, who published a number of books of his works and had various exhibitions and showings of his photography. He was a gifted artist. I would say this even if he weren’t my cousin. Among Richard’s earlier works, dating back decades, was a picture of a nondescript store advertising toys and guns. Richard was prescient.
His commentary has become a fact of life in our society. We look at guns much the same way we look at toys. We collect AK 47’s much the same way we collect Pez dispensers from our childhood. But AK 47’s are not Pez dispensers. AK 47’s, as well as all other firearms, must be treated with the greatest respect. Where is the emphasis on the part of society for total and complete restraint with regard to firearms, unless it is extremely clear that you are in mortal danger and that using such a weapon is an act of self-defense? Where is the rule, to be repeated again and again, that such weapons are to be used only at firing ranges? Until American society imbues in its people respect and perhaps even fear when it comes to guns, Americans will continue to treat lethal weapons as toys, producing disastrous as well as devastating result.
For some time now, our society has done away with the idea of being held responsible for one’s own actions. A person who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after years of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day sues the tobacco company and wins! Someone buys a coffee “to go” from a fast food restaurant, stupidly places the cup of coffee between his thighs while driving (that’s why we were born with thighs, so that they can serve as cup holders) only to have the lid pop open causing the coffee to slosh and burn his thighs. The “victim” then sues the restaurant and wins! We live in a culture where a disgruntled employee (he was fired) comes back to where he was employed and empties dozens of bullets into his former boss and coworkers. Unless I’m wrong, employees have been fired ever since there has been employment. Yet, no matter how disgruntled fired employees may have been, they never resorted to such methods. Once upon a time in America, employees who were fired were taught to take a good hard look at themselves. And if, after careful determination, these terminated employees concluded that they were fired for no just cause, they were taught that the best way to get back at the scoundrel who fired them was to get an even better job! Only gangsters and psychos and cold blooded murderers take revenge with a rifle! When did it happen that being disgruntled became reason enough to blame others and then murder and create havoc? Until we are prepared to take responsibility for our feelings, moods and actions, American society will remain out of control.
Gun Control is nothing more than a smoke screen. Until we look toward people control, control of American values and self-control, we will continue to shoot blanks.