Saturday, March 8, 2014
By RICHARD B. INNES Special to the Press Herald
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, most of the calls for change have been for school protection.
Many have forgotten that there have been more mass shootings in high schools, colleges, business places and theaters, to name some of the other venues. If armed guards for all of these are to be the answer, that would do a lot toward solving the country's unemployment problem -- except that the segment of the population that would support such legislation probably would not approve the necessary taxes. (That same segment is also the least likely to support enactment of gun controls.)
Gun owners, like members of other named groups, are not all alike. Some own guns for what they perceive as defense. These must be the most easily frightened of us, a dangerous subgroup as are all frightened animals.
Others have them for hunting non-human prey -- some for the real human need for food, but others for collecting trophies to appease an apparent need to boost their opinions of themselves. The "bad guys" of the bunch are, of course, those whose need for self-aggrandizement extends to becoming notable killers of humans, a primitive urge that has not died out in civilization.
What must not be forgotten is that guns of nearly all kinds are intended, by their designers, to be capable of killing living prey, including human prey. So their principal identity is as killing machines.
This is especially true of high-rate-of-fire weapons, whose proper design targets are large groups capable of returning fire, such as the armed forces of a proclaimed enemy.
In use against non-human prey, they are dub's weapons, needed only by gunners incapable of hitting their target with less than a fusillade. In any use against humans not similarly armed, they are cowards' weapons. Whatever their use, they should not be considered as playthings.
Further, guns are, again by design, meant to be able to kill quickly and decisively. Any potential human prey confronted with one must keep both of those facts in mind. Any attempted counteraction must be able to match that speed.
Unfortunately, this means that such armed confrontations leave little or no time for compromise or other thoughtful response. Therefore, gun displayers must, for their own safety, be careful to avoid over-alarming those around them.
This has become especially important after the recent massacres. Humans learn from experience, and the repeated recent experiences have made distrust and even fear of gun bearers the common, and therefore expected, public response, which will not wait for dialogue.
Gun toters, especially in any place where they clearly do not belong (including, but not limited to, schools), must realize that, deservedly or not, they may become instant targets of whatever counteractions their observers have available and may suddenly think it necessary to use.
Those current gun owners who are wailing "It's not our fault. We had nothing to do with it" need to realize that they are, in fact, what has given the misusers both easy ways for getting guns and deep cover for keeping them.
They need to realize how much it is up to them to be willing to sacrifice some of their current freedom for the better protection of everyone, including their own loved ones. No killer up to now has asked for NRA members in his/her target group to raise their hands to avoid death.
Gun owners also need to realize that the NRA does not exist simply to serve them.
Like any other publisher that gathers a devoted clientel in a member organization, the NRA must get the greatest amount of its monetary support not from memberships and subscriptions to its magazine, but from its advertisers. In other words, the most significant part of its policy guidance must come from the gun- and ammunition- producing corporations on which its economic life most directly depends.
The NRA ain't there just for you any more, guys and gals. It's become a business.
If massacre guns and massacre ammunition are not kept for killing, then what is their attraction?
I submit that much of what they are wanted for is to serve as big boys' toys. The "freedom" to have those is all that those "boys" would "sacrifice." Really BIG boys can stand that.
There is much agreement on both sides of the debate that background checks for more gun buyers are desirable.
Given the fact that past gun buying (especially the recent "pre-check" surge) has put many past purchases far beyond such benefits, it is totally sensible that, for a new era of required responsible ownership to begin, similar checks should be required for all current gun possessors.
Richard B. Innes lives in Gorham.