Members of the National Rifle Association are some of America’s best parents. Their paramount concern is protecting their families. Nobody can argue against such a natural and noble instinct. Over time, the weapon of choice to protect one’s family has become the gun.
Before advent of the gun, when a farmer needed to protect his family, he would stand outside his front door with his arms across his chest and a pitchfork at his side. If somebody stole his pitchfork, the entire village was put on alert. Every individual jumped out of his skin at the sight of his own shadow until the pitchfork was recovered and locked up in a safe place.
Homicides by poison and other insidious means went along at pretty much the same plodding pace until somebody figured out how to fill a steel cylinder with explosive powder, pack that powder with a steel ball, light a fuse and shout to one’s adversary, “Hey, look over here!”
Family protection soared with the arrival of the gun. There was no controversy over owning a gun, it was a right protected here in America by no less than the Second Amendment of the Constitution. So far, so good …
Eventually we figured out how to activate the gun with a trigger and how to fire multiple projectiles. Then the trouble began. Nobody could have foreseen the horror and carnage to follow when homicidal psychopaths gained control of advanced lethal weapons of protection and turned them on indiscriminate individuals, including children.
What can we do to stop, or at least reduce, the resulting carnage? We can amend the Second Amendment to read, “Henceforth, the right of the people to keep and bear single-shot arms shall not be infringed.”
I’m not suggesting we repeal the Second Amendment, but amend it to limit access of military-style assault weapons to police and the armed forces.
I have not lost a loved one to a mass shooting, but I witnessed in Vietnam what a military weapon can do to a human being. To allow civilians to purchase such killing machines here at home is unconscionable. The only thing sadder than a mass shooting is a public acceptance of it at par, a public numbing of the mind and heartstrings.
While I’m up here on this nice tall soapbox, why don’t we try to temper the rancor that exists between our political parties? To invoke the ever-prescient Mark Twain, “Cain is branded as a murderer so heartily and unanimously in America, only because he was neither a Democrat nor a Republican.”
I leave off here with this question to ponder: which do we favor most, adults living without fear because they have assault weapons or children learning without fear because adults don’t have assault weapons? We can’t have both.
McAvoy Layne is a 30-year impressionist of Mark Twain who can be reached at GhostofTwain.com.