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Could you shoot your neighbor?

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

(The following was written a week before the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. It’s here today with no apologies.)

Imagine your neighbor has begun nailing all his furniture to the floor, has tied his pickup to a tree and put long ropes on all three kids. He’s convinced God is going to turn off gravity across the world and all he has and cares about will be drifting out into space. Soon.

Now, before you write the guy off as an idiot from our little burg-in-the-woods, hear him out. Listen to his reasoning. Here it is. “It hasn’t happened yet – which means it will.”

That’s right. You got it. Gravity still worked this morning and is likely to continue all day. But, in his world, gravity will end – everything and everyone will become weightless and fly off the earth. He knows it’s true. Because “it hasn’t happened!”

With precisely this same kind of anti-logic, thousands and thousands of Americans have been rushing to gun stores since our general election. They are cleaning off the shelves of rifles, shotguns, semi-automatic weapons, pistols and millions of bullets. Some stores have been cleaned out and the underground weapons business is going strong, too.
So what connects these two unrelated pieces of nutcase off-the-wall-ness? Well, two things. First, President Obama has been re-elected. And, second, he’s going to take away your guns and put extremely high taxes on ammunition. The same ammunition gun owners won’t need if he takes their guns. Oops. Just injected some rational thought there. Sorry.

Some stores sales are up 100% in a year. Seems lots of people “think” they will need more guns and ammo to protect themselves because government is going to take away their “absolute” rights and they need protection. Though it hasn’t happened. Which means it will.

But the REALLY deep thinkers promise the President may also end the food stamp program. And IF that happens, people will need a lot of firepower to protect themselves from the starving masses.

None of this – NONE of this – is made up. I swear. Except my ersatz neighbors tying down all their worldly possessions so they don’t float off when gravity ends – which they will because it hasn’t. But these gun nuts are sure what hasn’t happened is going to happen. Because it hasn’t. But it makes the point.

I’d like to say all these nutcases came up with this off-the-wall thinking all by themselves. But such is not the case. They’re simply regurgitating the twisted output of the National Rifle Association and of its demented CEO, Wayne LaPierre. Since President Obama’s first days in office, the NRA has sent millions of pieces of paper with this twisted message thereon. Too many of the looneys cleaning out gun stores today are simply reading from that script.

I’m a gun owner. Used to be an NRA member about 30 years ago. But no more. How this troll-at-the-top survives is a mystery. Many current members I know have no use for the guy or the direction he’s taken the organization. While the NRA does yeoman’s work with gun safety and young shooter classes, it’s gone off the edge of LaPierre’s flat earth politically. And philosophically. A force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill? Yes. But no longer a healthy force dedicated to now-seldom-mentioned Second Amendment responsibilities as well as those Second Amendment rights. Now it’s conspiracies and PACs and lying to millions of people who mindlessly trail along behind.

For my money, that’s what the NRA under LaPierre has come to. Creating panic. Illogical runs on shooting stores are typical in many other states coast-to-coast. Using the “what-hasn’t-happened-yet-means-it-will-happen” school of illogic, cozy little fortresses are being restocked with multiple weaponry and piles of ammunition. That little cottage down the street – with window boxes brimming with geraniums – may be an arsenal inside, with AK-47′s and a hundred boxes of bullets.

The horribly sad part is this type of national citizen rearmament craziness has never occurred at such a level under any other president. Not even during wartime. But it’s occurring during the term of our first mixed-race president. So, has race something to do with it. Undeniably, yes.

But so does national fear abroad in the land. Fear of banks. Fear of strangers who look different and who speak different languages but who are Americans just the same. Fear on the part of people who have traditionally been in control now losing that control. Fear of changes – changes in nearly everything coming faster and faster. Fear separating us from each other.

For some, that means buying guns. And more guns. Stashing hundreds of boxes of bullets. To do what with? Kill your neighbors? Kill your neighbor’s kids? Kill someone you know down the block who might just be hungry?

Have the people who mouth this crazy “it-hasn’t-happened-which-means-it-will” trash thought about who they think they may have to shoot with their new weaponry? Have they looked at the faces of strangers and even neighbors with the conscious thought they may kill these people? Could they kill these people? For what? A meal? A drink of water? Could they put a familiar face on the fear that’s driving them to buy more guns and then pull the trigger?

Buying your gun based on some stupid, irrational B.S. is one thing. Putting the face of a neighbor or friend in the gunsight and pulling the trigger is a whole different situation.

Thanks, Wayne.

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