Wednesday, July 25, 2012

American love affair

Americans love their guns.
Like all blanket statements, there are more holes in it than cheese cloth, but it is absolutely true that compared to Canadians, Americans love guns. Oh sure, plenty of Canadians own something that goes bang, but owning something is not the same as cherishing it. Statistically few Canadians spend their Saturday nights stroking gun barrels, and it’s Axe body spray I smell out on the street rather than gun oil.
I’m reminded of this basic American obsession in the wake of the Colorado tragedy. Americans, however, aren’t thinking “Oh, those poor people.” They’re thinking “Oh Jebus, the gubmint might try taking away my boom-sticks.” Gun sales have (forgive the pun) exploded in the days after some lunatic emptied clip and clip into movie theatre crowd. According to reports, one of the primary reasons is a worry that politicians will curtail some of the gun access that Americans enjoy.
Here’s a few tidbits:
1. The state of Colorado does background checks for people who want to buy guns. After Friday’s shooting, they approved nearly 3000 checks post-shooting to Sunday. Three days, and they managed to sign off on 2887 new applications. That output represented a 25% increase from the average for the same three day period. For a government, this is speedy work. It makes me believe the “background check” is looking through the window of their office and making sure the applicant’s face isn’t on the “Colorado’s Most Wanted” bulletin board. Plus what government office works on the weekends? Only in the States, apparently, and only when it comes to gun ownership. Likely the applications just need to go through a certified gun store owner, and he just uses his own judgment to eye the future gun-owner up. “Only mild twitches, just one crazy eye, hair only partially pulled out, no thousand-yard stare… Approved!”
2. Applications for a license to “carry concealed” are also way up. This one makes me think the people are less afraid of government lock-down and more thinking “If I’d been watching Batman and had a gun, I could have shot that lunatic.” Movie theatres all over Colorado will soon be packed with quick-draw experts packing heat. Most shocking, at least to me, is the stringent requirement for gaining this coveted “I can carry a Glock while shopping” license: a FOUR HOUR COURSE!! You have to spend a whole afternoon being taught the proper way to slip a gun into the small of your back. It’s important, for instance, to remember to put the safety on before you put the .357 behind your belt buckle, as that caliber of weapon can easily make a man a eunuch. Clam-shell or shoulder holster? Ankle gun or under the sleeve, Desperado-style? Those are hard questions for any man to answer.
3. Traditionally, gun tragedies herald a spike in gun sales. Why aren’t the conspiracy loons all over this? That massacre was just an attempt to bolster the sad profits on the Smith & Wesson SD40 VE! (I had to look up a new gun model to use as an example. All my gun knowledge comes from spy role-playing games made in the 80’s. Incidentally, the S&W website also claimed their new gun was a perfect way to “shield yourself.” While it is a military axiom that a good offense is the best defense, I would never consider a gun to be a “shield” of any kind. Captain America would have deflected NOTHING if he’s used an Uzi instead of his big ol’ round shield. (Though any hero named Captain America should indeed have TWO guns, one in each hand, but absolutely “made in America” brands, like Ruger or Colt.))
I’m not anti-gun (though I am compared to the typical NRA member). But it was a bad, bad mistake to put the “right to bear arms” into their Constitution. And it’s the Second Amendment, for pity’s sake. Way before 8 (no cruel or unusual punishment, without which the “waterboarding” debate would have been a lot quicker) and a light-year before 19 (women’s suffrage). Prioritizing weaponry in this way has created a tradition that has no real benefit and an enormous down-side, and now the ability to take it away requires a whole lot more work than “hey, you know, maybe giving assault rifles out for the asking isn’t the best idea.”
Twenty-twenty hindsight.

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