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Mayfield: Loonies and their guns

by Rich Mayfield

There is a crisis in America.

And although my more rational readers may think this national calamity may have something to do with the giant gridlock that has stalled the implementation of any reasonable health care policy, they would be wrong. Others among the saner set might assume that our continuing military involvement in Afghanistan is cause for enormous concern, with a growing consensus among our citizenry that there must be some other means for resolution there than participating in a tribal war that has been killing participants for decades. They, too, would be wrong.

For the crisis of which I write is of far greater concern to a certain segment of Americans for whom minor issues like health care and warfare pale in comparison to the frightening fact that America is running out of ammunition for our handguns! According to the Associated Press, “American bullet makers are working around the clock, seven days a week, and still cannot keep up with the nation’s demand for ammunition.”

It seems that ever since an African-American was elected president, the plethora of paranoiacs who make America statistically the top nation in the world for gun ownership have been gobbling up ammunition at a phenomenal and, for some of us, frightening rate. According to the National Rifle Association, Americans normally purchase a measly 7 billion rounds of ammunition each year. This year that has jumped to 9 billion. Even with the worst of shooters, if our gun-toting folk manage to fire off every bullet and cartridge over the next 12 months, I worry there won’t be a deer, elk, moose, bear or human being left standing.

Setting aside the often specious Second Amendment arguments that are dragged out time and time again whenever anyone dares to wonder aloud why we Americans feel compelled to mimic Wyatt Earp on the streets of Tombstone, one can’t help but see an ominous connection between our current president’s color and the current dearth of ammo. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, by most accounts, a reasonable and tolerant man, sounded the alarm recently in a column where he mused… “The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.” I worry that one of the ingredients of that cocktail is the appalling lack of reasonable gun control in America.

When men dressed in camouflage can stand at the entrances to meetings where the president is to appear and legally brandish their own weapons of specific destruction, how can reasonable folk not see a serious threat to both the life of our president and the future of our country? Friedman equates this time in America to the atmosphere in Israel just before Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Ex-president Jimmy Carter was pilloried recently by politicians and others for suggesting that the frenzied opposition to President Obama’s new policies was driven in part by racist motives. Carter, a Georgian native and personal witness to the inherent evil of a racist society, bravely confessed what, I think, many of us encounter in casual conversations nearly every day. Racism is alive and well in a very sick way in America.

Is the increase in both gun ownership and political lunacy necessarily connected? Perhaps not, but in a country where hate-filled, racially charged, rhetoric resounds everywhere from the airwaves to the Internet to the very halls of Congress, it would seem prudent to at least consider finding rational ways for keeping the loonies away from the Uzis.

Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.” E-mail comments about this column to editor@summitdaily.com.


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