By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Last week, after the umpteenth rejection by Congress to pass any restrictions on the sale of guns, President Obama acted with an executive order to restrict online and gun show sales of weapons without a sufficient background check of the persons attempting to purchase firearms in this manner. Naturally he was immediately attacked by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and candidates seeking the support of the NRA.
Donald Trump, in his efforts to pander to the gun lobby this week even said that his “first” action as President would be to eliminate all “gun free zones,” in America including the ones near and on school grounds! Of all the outrageous remarks he has made as a candidate for President, that one is probably the saddest of all.
I have written much about efforts to enact sensible restrictions on the sale and possession of dangerous and deadly firearms. I have spoken about the culture of guns ingrained in the American experience. I have strenuously criticized Congress and candidates who look the other way in the face of mass murders with high powered assault weapons. I have trotted out statistics which show that since the assassination of President Kennedy with a mail ordered rifle, 1.5 million people have died at the hands of persons with guns. That is more deaths than all the American servicemen and women who died during all American wars spanning 240 years… combined! And still the politicians look the other way and pretend that the Second Amendment is inviolate and cannot be tampered with, even if a gun could propel a nuclear device. This is utter madness. These arguments fall on politicians ears drowned out by the sound of campaign cash and political endorsement by the NRA.
Killings with guns has becomes so ordinary that many people become indifferent to the loss of life, human or animal. I was reminded of this sad fact when reading a letter to the editor published last week (Wednesday, January 6) in the New York Daily News. It was written by a Missouri mother about her young son. I share it with you because I think that this letter defines the problem in this country in words far better than any that I can write:
“My 7-year old son Cash killed his first deer Saturday on our farm and it turned out to be two of them! He shot at a doe and it went through her into a button buck. Cash and his dad Eryc were shocked. Eryc jumped up and said ‘hot damn, Cash. you got one.’ But it wasn’t one deer, it was two. Cash has hunted all season with no luck until Saturday. I tucked him in the night before and he said ‘Mom, I just want to shoot a deer. Any deer. A doe. A buck. A button buck. A small doe. A big doe. Anything.’ As his Mom I am glad that he got his anything.”
That letter to the editor was also accompanied with a photograph of a beaming young Cash, rifle in hand, kneeling over his bloodied killed prey.
Young Cash inherited his values from his parents along with an insensitivity to killing innocent animal life as sport. His parents undoubtedly received the same from their parents passed down through generations. Cash, like most kids, just want to be like their parents and emulate them. And guns are as American as apple pie. Cynical politicians feed on this tradition and pretend that they are protecting the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution written 225 Years ago at a time when electricity was unknown and certainly there was no comprehension of high powered assault weapons. At that time in history an oppressive British government was the enemy, and colonists with a rag tag citizen army that had been at war with that British government. Such circumstances faded into history centuries ago.
The NRA feeds on this gun and hunting tradition to justify blacking all sensible restrictions on any guns. In reality they are only seeking to protect their thriving businesses of selling ever more lethal weapons and making huge profits.
But at the core of the American romance with guns, is a young child who prays at bedtime that he can be successful in killing an innocent and graceful animal, and a family that thinks such aspirations are wonderful.