Should Progressives, Shot Down on Gun Control, Embrace the Dark Side?


Headline at Huff Post today:

“Interest In ‘Gun Control’ Is Fading, Google Data Shows

As usual, people appear to care in the days following a major shooting — and then they lose interest”

Well, that was quick, less than a week. Okay, hardly a scientific survey, but why should the latest, unspeakable carnage disrupt what’s blatantly set in political stone? The gatling-gun free-for-all remains untouched — whenever, whoever fires what arms, however horrific or vulnerable the victims. Reality be damned, with one GOP primitive indicting last week’s corpses for not fighting back — what with chalk and erasers?

Whatever, time to deal with it: dreaming of gun reform is one tragic dud, “dead in the water” with the same awful consistency as innocents dead in classrooms. And I don’t say this just to provide cover for Bernie Sanders. Gun advocates have won the day, the season, and the next two years — and what fixated Pollyanna keeps hitting our heads against the unmovable wall of the church of the NRA? After all, this is no sudden ambush or showdown at not-OK corral: the unified gun industry pulled it off, leveraging scare tactics, Constitutional distortions, gerrymandering and the historic oddity of awarding each tiny state two Senators. That’s turned out well. Locking down the system, gun partisans own the courts plus the state and federal decision-making powers — lock, stock, and barrel. And that’s no metaphor.

Guns & Sex, Energy/Climate Education

When we internalize the gun fixation as the overarching Yankee sacred cow, time for reversal and cool-headed deal-making. Progressives arise before we become a nation of divided — and armed camps. Why not consider support for early, universal gun education (and practice) if gun defenders fully endorse 1) early, scientific education on sex, gender and procreation, even safe abortion options, and 2) early education that teaches what our total energy usage really costs (the full “externalities” of fracking, coal, nuclear and oil, war charges included). No need to glorify anything, just show the basics of modern realities on guns, sex, and our oil-driven, geopolitical foreign wars. Seems like a fair exchange to me.

Look, the alternative to enlightenment is equipping every short-waisted munchen with bullet-proof vests — or handing out six-shooters to six graders as rites of passage, like confirmations or driving privileges. We teach the young about avoiding diseases or menaces rife with danger, like opening mysterious exe. files — why not show them how to dodge getting gunned down? Imagine the latest fashion: stylish, junior-sized protective vests, also good against sucker punching by your buddy.

So, what’s the moral downside to teaching a fact of modern life? Guns are here to stay, zealous staples of American home life. Isn’t that why fun-loving owners call it “gunplay”? Or the NRA deems shooting (killing dozens per day) a “sport.” With fatal firepower displaying its gruesome prowess every week, we already have the backdrop: kindergarteners in “shock and awe.” What’s wrong with knowing which gun fits which prey, or improving facility in loading, cleaning, and locking your gun away from the curious or the deranged? Like younger siblings? Hell, why not video game apps for target practice?

That way, when guns are eventually mandated, if schools don’t go extinct, for all teachers, principals, coaches, guidance counselors, and janitors, staff is certified on the first day of school. Remember that last frumpy guidance counselor, a model of tunnel vision, now armed to the teeth with a six gun, maybe more. Who knows today which students explode — or what array of threats will head towards your head?

Guns Vs. Collegiality?

I just heard an interview with a University of Texas economics professor resigning not because he fears having his head shot off. He strongly rejects the atmosphere of tension, thanks to bizarre Texas carry laws, that will pervade college campuses. He was full of bizarre, obsolete notions that conspicuous guns torpedo the healthy give-and-take of higher education. He even linked guns to lower impulses and emotional excesses, not spirited intellectual exchanges. What a dinosaur. Gosh, imagine two strident militants, one an atheist and the other driven by God to take out abortion doctors — wonder how long “mere talk” will last?

In short, what progressives favor — rational, humane control over the surge of shiny, modern totems, pushing well beyond 300+ million guns — is a greater long-shot than Sanders winning both the presidency and handing Democrats the Senate. Reform appears a fish fantasy, a political fool’s errand when even heaps of slain tots fail to stagger enough adults. My idea could break the ice, more sensible than militarizing fortress schools or arming every skittish teacher to defend against global terrorism. If we can’t deal with the real causes, this pragmatist declares, we might as well confront the most painful symptoms.

Let the next generation resolve the psychic damage to our youngsters. Why not condition tomorrow’s leaders just like our tough-minded, rural pioneer forebears did? Threats were everywhere so everyone who could walk learned to defend homestead and family. Is it not either/or, that is, either we retrieve and destroy tens of millions of guns, with exceptions for hunting rifles (IMO limited to fire only once a minute), or havoc continues over tuna sandwich school lunches? Either we forget about registration and monitoring purchasers, which only idiots apparently obey, or mass murders proceed with abandon. We’re rapidly getting beyond where buy-backs or liability insurance per gun are workable, even “outlawing” new gun purchases (whatever that means) don’t promise solace measured by school years. There’s a century’s worth of guns at large, many beyond public reach.

Celebrate “Life-skills”

So, as this primary season elevates the “art of the deal,” what’s wrong with this comprehensive, win-win deal-making? Why not teach potential victims how to handle guns and snappily replace that full-clip? Why not award school laurels to winners who instantly get bullet-proof vests in place? For heroic, if unwise students, why not after-school sessions on confronting armed shooters, mastering the “art of rushing, then disarming maniacs armed to the teeth and keen for blood”?

Look, we all know preventing disease and crime and moral corruption is the best solution. And does that not all depend on knowledge, skills, and practice? Why, I could even imagine some day Olympic events in quick draw matvches or speed-loading competitions. That splashy show-and-tell would awaken sleepy students, bored with spelling and vocabulary quizzes, by teaching real, life-preserving tasks. After all, should some bloodied youngster, gasping for breath, know how to spell “mortality” — or know how to shoot his assailant while lying prostate behind a desk. Okay, this may not be moral progress or cultural evolution, but isn’t teaching new and important “life-skills” what justifies the “intrusion” of public education?


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.