"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

We are one family despite the NRA

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

While trying to fight back my anger at the National Rifle Association’s contempt for civilization the other day, I got to thinking about the concept the demonic LaPierre was spewing. He didn’t use the actual words I was thinking of but there was no mistaking they formed the irrational concept he was spouting.

It’s called “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Or maybe you remember the utterly accurate acronym: “MAD.” The world lived with that MAD sword hanging over us for some 60 years. To some extent, we still do.

It began in the 1950′s when both we and the Soviets – at that time -had nuclear bombs. The idea was, if one of us decided to lob a nuke over the North Pole, the recipient would return the favor – plus a dozen, dozen additional. The concept was simple:” You kill me – I’ll kill you more.”

It was taken to the lunatic extreme of us having some 2,000 nukes in the 60′s and they had about the same. So it got to be: “I’ll kill you a thousand times but you’ll only have time to get off enough to kill me 438 times.” I’d always thought being killed once was sufficient but – since I wasn’t asked to help with national security issues – I just sorta lived with it.

In the 50′s and 60′s, I was in the Strategic Air Command – the outfit that would do all the long-range killing for this country. Adding to the MAD irony for me was the motto of SAC emblazoned on the nose of every bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile: “Peace is Our Profession.” Looking back, you gotta admit that was kinda sick.

Stanley Kubrick skewered the concept in his movie “Dr. Strangelove – or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.” A far right SAC general – played by Sterling Hayden – got doped up on right wing paranoia and launched his planes in an attempt to flatten the Soviets before they could respond. One scene I’ll never forget is the U.S. Army storming his airbase as hundreds of machine gun bullets shredded that “Peace is Our Profession” sign at the main gate.

I’d like to say Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush light and Obama ended MAD. They didn’t. Despite occasional talk about “disarmament,” the Russians still have more than a thousand warheads and we have about the same. So, yes, MAD is still with us.

But now – now the National Rifle Association is proposing we introduce a new version of MAD into our local school systems. It’s so simple the rest of us should have thought of it, too. Put an armed person – police or principal or teacher or parent volunteer – just one person “carrying” – and it will send an immediate and stern warning to all who want to attack any second grade classroom. If that doesn’t work – if the attacker ignores his certain demise – when the shooting breaks out all the children will have to do to stay safe and out of the line of fire is “duck and cover” just like they do for earthquake drills. Damn!

The only thing making me more angry than the NRA’s stupidly arrogant self-interest is the chorus of voices being raised in support of such a mindless idea. Granted, it’s still a small chorus. And since nut cases generally are the first to speak before thinking, maybe we’ve heard from most of ‘em. I pray that’s so.

The proposal we adopt a policy of “you-shoot-me, I’ll-shoot-you-more” for the public school system reeks of the internal decay of reality so often represented by the NRA. In a nation where law enforcement has daily brushes with people creating a “suicide-by-cop” scenario on our streets, it’s entirely irresponsible. You think some dysfunctional person is going to stop on the sidewalk and suddenly say “Boy, if I take this assault rifle and these 300 bullets into that school they’re gonna hurt me. I better go home now?” You think a Connecticut National Guard tank would have changed the shooter’s mind in Newtown?

If no responsible element of the NRA – IF there still IS a “responsible element” within the NRA – doesn’t disavow the association’s current absurd stance articulated by LaPierre, solving indiscriminate mass murder incidents will be harder. But we have to do it. With or without the NRA.
As a nation, we are nothing more than parents, grandparents, great grandparents, brother, sisters and – well – you get the idea. While we are different – one from the other – we also share the need to care for each other. And each other’s children. We must end this.

As for LaPierre, sometimes someone like him comes along with no obvious parentage. In that case, we have a name for him, too.

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