My wife and I moved from the Los Angeles area to the hills of Northern California in 1971, 7 miles from the nearest paved road — far enough from any immediate help from law enforcement that the local police told us, "Make sure you're right, and call us when he stops twitching."
I own five firearms. Each of them has a specific purpose, ranging from bears and deer to varmints and snakes (rattlers and small children don't mix), to intruders, if necessary. The point I'd like to make here is that I'm fully aware that firearms have legitimate uses. Further, I understand that many people enjoy shooting them. I do not. I use my guns only when necessary. I don't like the noise and I do not enjoy the taking of life from any living creature; I will do so if I have to, but with regret.
So, I'm a gun owner and, to a degree, a gun advocate. But I draw the line, absolutely, at the presence of military assault rifles, which are weapons of mass destruction, plain and simple, in the hands of anyone but the military. (I don't care for them in military hands either but that's another matter). The argument that the individual has an innate (or Constitutional) right to own these weapons is nonsense; it's like saying that I have the right to a personal nuke just because, for whatever twisted reason, I want one. It is not legitimate for me to own one of these weapons and I should not want to own one. We need to look deeply into the reasons why we do want to own one; we would benefit enormously if we could muster the courage and honesty to do this, because we would discover the powerlessness and fear that actually lie at the root of so much of our behavior. Then we could change and very much for the better; our so badly broken hearts could mend and we could create a very different world.
But the barriers to change are as high as the wall Trump wants to build (and they serve the same purpose: to keep what we fear away). The National Rifle Association is in effect, as Michael Moore points out, a terrorist organization, as it relentlessly insists on the false right of the individual to own weapons of mass destruction. The association is joined at the hip with its bought-and-paid-for politicians; together they are largely responsible for the unbelievable carnage that the American people wreak upon themselves every year. They are going to have a great deal to answer for at the Pearly Gates because the facts are clear: Nations that ban these weapons undeniably have vastly lower rates of gun violence than we do. As Emma Gonzalez so eloquently said through her tears, "He couldn't have killed that many people with a knife!"
The insistence of the NRA, its politicians and many (but not all, by any means) of their supporters that the Second Amendment must be misinterpreted to allow these weapons in virtually any hands that seek to grasp them is simply shameful. It must be recognized as such, called out and stopped. Those of us who can see this obvious truth should long ago have done what the Parkland students and (God bless them all) the other young people are doing now: "Call BS!" We must show these young people that we have their backs; that we agree that this has gone on much too long, that the misery and death that we have simply accepted is no longer acceptable and that we must now arise, link arms, fill the streets and do whatever is appropriate to put a stop to this madness.
Peter Childs Peter Childs is a retired musician and activist, who has travelled across this country and abroad as a performer and studio musician and has served on several nonprofit boards of directors in different fields. He is also a card-carrying mystic and an unregenerate optimist, as is more than evident in his book, Of Thee I Sing; The American Experiment and How It Can Still Succeed (available on Amazon).
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