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Loving our guns to death


Robin Meyers December 19th, 2012

The Oklahoma response to the latest mass shooting will be utterly predictable. Gun rights in this state are like an official religion with a canned liturgy: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

So let the people say amen!

If only it were this simple. The truth is, people with guns kill people, and in America, we kill more people with guns than anywhere else on earth. In America, where citizens can legally buy assault rifles with high-capacity ammunition clips, disturbed or despondent young white males commit mass murder in public places with a frequency that defies logic and insults the meaning of the word “civilized.”

About few issues are Oklahomans as irrational as we are about the sanctity of the Second Amendment, even though no court has ever ruled that it grants access to any kind of weapon.

In truth, it is what logicians call a conditional statement, where the second part is made necessary by the first part: because we need a well-regulated militia (in Colonial America), the right of citizens to keep and bear arms (single-shot, barrel-loaded muskets) shall not be infringed. The National Rifle Association never quotes the first half, only the second.

Republicans allowed the assault weapons ban to expire, and Democrats were too afraid of the NRA to try reinstating it. Even the president played along in the debates, saying only that he was a “defender of the Second Amendment.” After the latest massacre of children in Newtown, Conn., Obama shed a tear, thinking of his own daughters, no doubt.

That’s not enough. We have lost our minds in this gun-loving, gun-saturated, gun-worshipping culture. How many kids have to die before tired old arguments begin to sound shrill and stupid?

We talk about better psychological screening while we cut funds for mental health professionals in our schools. We assume that every young man about to snap after losing a girlfriend or a job can be detected before he acquires the weapons necessary to go on a killing spree.

And the last insanity is to argue that he would find a gun, anyway, given how many of them are out there. Well, he might, but in a civilized society, we would make that as difficult as possible.

The last thing we would ever do is to sell a machine gun to anyone with a driver’s license and no felonies. What kind of society allows the manufacture and sale of a weapon whose only purpose is human carnage?

Nobody needs an assault weapon to hunt with, or to protect one’s home. No kid needs a video game for Christmas in which the point of view is of “the shooter” and the object is to waste everything in sight. No church should allow guns in a sanctuary as if God is a trigger-happy cosmic vigilante. Jesus was not armed.

Come on, Oklahoma. We are better than this. The future has lots of shooters in it, and we are all potential targets.

Tear up that NRA membership card and repeat after me: I love kids more than I love guns.


Meyers is senior minister of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ and professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.


Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

 
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