MARLBORO MUSINGS: A Nation On Simmer

My heart hurts as I write these words, but not nearly I’m sure as much as those of the friends and relatives of the victims of the latest mass shooting here in the good old Land of the Free, the massacre at the “Pulse” nightclub in Orlando.

I can’t speak for you, but I’m tired of feeling this unnecessary remote pain, and I’m especially tired of seeing other people’s lives ruined because some nutcase with a gun decided he had something to prove or vindicate or just whatever the Hell that kind of mind comes up with and snuffs out the lives of however many innocents he can get to.

And who gets the blame? Well, according to many, why, the gun, of course.

Excuse me? Have we lost our minds?

Look, here we go, straight up. I own firearms, and I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment. I also believe in the concept of self-defense and that citizens have the right to be certified, trained and allowed to carry weapons. That said, I have no problem with some gun law restructuring. I want to make it as difficult as possible for the wrong element to get guns. THAT said, at the end of the day, any legislation is Don Quixote charging at windmills because criminals are not particularly noted for their affinity for completing government paperwork. They tend to procure their weaponry at more fluid local outlets. The selection, I understand, is also usually somewhat better.

Let’s me be serious: Do you really think the US Government could ever take the millions and millions and millions of guns currently out there out of the hands of the American citizenry? I know some people around here that I actually think are looking forward to the day some guys from Washington come down to try. You’re talking second Civil War/American Revolution. Nationwide.

But go right ahead, Congress, give gun laws a shot; I just hope it works out better for you—and, consequently, for us—than it did for residents of Chicago, where despite enacting some of the nation’s strictest gun ordinances, citizens continue to consistently suffer some of the country’s highest rates of gun-related violence. And as for the effectiveness of laws in general, making things illegal is how we got folks to stop stealing stuff, driving while drinking, and doing drugs, right, so try to make these good ones, too.

But if by chance laws don’t work, maybe more “touchy-feely” Gun-Free Zones are the answer, like those on the college campuses that, oddly enough, have been the scene of mass homicides, or the state fair out west last year that promoted its family fun atmosphere by proclaiming loudly and often that the entire site was “Gun Free,” then was promptly hit with a couple of nice, big well-timed and coordinated armed robberies. “Hurry! Hurry! Step right up! Hand over your valuables—at gunpoint! Thanks for playing, carneysI There’ll be no lovely parting gifts!”

Or a Gun-Free Zone like “Pulse,” which may still be a blood-soaked crime scene.

No, we don’t have a gun problem, people. My guns have never once tried to slip off for a weekend of mischief, nor tried to convince me to act in a foolish manner. I did that all on my own. And how many millions of guns do NOT get used in a violent manner? It’s the psycho holding the weapon that I’m concerned about, not the chunk of metal and wood or ceramic.

Cain killed Abel with a rock. The Nazi’s killed millions using cyanide gas. Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building using fertilizer and fuel oil. The 9/11 hijackers used box-cutters and planes. It ain’t guns, folks.

What we have here is a hate in the heart problem, perhaps with a twist of touched in the head. But we have to keep OUR heads out of the sand.

The sad fact is this is a mean, mean world growing colder and meaner almost by the moment. And worse is yet to come as, thanks to what must be the meanest and what can only get nastier presidential election in history, we’re basically building a compressor to pump high-octane gas onto the smoldering embers of righteous indignation that about half the American public has been inspired to feel—against the other half, thanks to the politics of division, distraction and, apparently, dismemberment, if possible. We’re fighting in the streets–and the conventions aren’t even here yet.

Worse yet, the lunatic fringe has been even more radically empowered as, for the first national election, the country is pretty well saturated with internet access, so anyone with a keyboard, a smart phone, an Internet portal and an opinion can now speak out to the world with the self-determined authority of Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite, 24/7, when in reality, once actual facts of the matter are brought into play, they are often found to be quite one-sided and much more along the lines of a Jerry Springer or Maury Povich, usually possessing the open-mindedness of a senile snapping turtle with chronic lockjaw in the middle of a Florida thunderstorm and the intellectual agility of a cracked small white soap dish missing its lid.

Scary, scary stuff. It’s a shame this is so serious. And I haven’t even touched on the incendiary religious rhetoric that is being so casually flung about.

Somewhere down the line the whole country seems to have put on blinders, and we’ve got to shed ‘em, folks. We’re not Democrats. We’re not Republicans. We’re Americans. Americans. Take two steps back and two deep breaths and reassess where you are and how you feel about some stuff. It seems we’ve lost our common ground. Please tell me we still have our Common Sense.

It don’t make no sense, that Common Sense, it don’t make no sense no more.”

John Prine

I have a Book that tells me to Love and not Judge; its words mean more every day. You probably have that Book, too. Flip it open.

Be diligent and wise. Til next time. Peace.

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