Four days ago, a deranged teenager armed with an AR-15 military-style rifle murdered 17 people and wounded 14 more at a high school in Florida.
Politicians bought off by the National Rifle Association, the premier lobbying organization for the merchants of death, will decry the 30th mass shooting since the beginning of this year but will continue to stymie any reasonable efforts in this country to curb gun violence. Meanwhile, the NRA will keep on promoting the sale of weapons designed solely for killing people, along with all the ammunition and paraphernalia such as silencers and bump stocks, to anybody who wants them, including the mentally ill (thanks to Trump).
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” People have been arguing about the poor grammar, the ambiguity and the meaning of the “right to bear arms” ever since.
The population of the United States in 1787 was only 4 million. There was no standing army. “Arms” meant weapons for military use and consisted of mostly large caliber, smoothbore flintlock muskets and bayonets, cutlasses, and pikes. They, and the necessary gunpowder, were stored in “magazines” like the one you can still see in colonial Williamsburg. Long rifles for hunting were generally only .32 caliber and few people possessed them except for those in rural areas or on the frontier. They were all exceedingly difficult to load and fire. I know. I have a reproduction .50 caliber flintlock Hawken rifle.
When I was as kid, the NRA was a respected proponent of civilian marksmanship, sportsmanship, hunting, and gun safety. In those days, people were proud of America’s frontier heritage. Hunting fees and licenses paid for conservation efforts that saved deer, bear and wild turkey populations from extinction. Most handguns were western-style revolvers.
Those days are dead. Nowadays, the NRA prides itself on the hundreds of millions of dollars it spends lining the pockets of our legislators so madmen can effortlessly arm themselves to the teeth and then go out and kill as many innocent people as they can, often starting with their wives and relatives, before they kill themselves or are killed by police; not, as the NRA would have you believe by “good guys with guns.” Following the Las Vegas massacre, the New York Times reported that the best-rewarded Republican Senators and Representatives, all of whom sanctimoniously offered up their thoughts and prayers, received a total of $47,114,952 in funding support from the NRA.And, that’s just the top twenty out of our 535 legislators at the federal level.
Yes, Democrats are among those bought off, too, just not quite so many. Locally, one sees Dave Brat, grinning like an idiot in a picture all over social media, sporting his “Guns Save Lives” badge on his lapel. Nick Freitas’s office in Richmond is festooned with guns. Bryce Reeves brags about his A rating and NRA endorsements; our representatives, hard at work keeping us safe.
Last Wednesday, Senator Chris Murphy said, “This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting.” Last Thursday, the So-Called Ruler of the United States, sophomorically read his prepared remarks off the teleprompter and offered no sincere condolences nor solutions, but merely platitudes.
How do you suppose all those thoughts and prayers are working out for the grieving relatives, classmates and friends of the latest victims? How long are we going to allow this madness to continue? Vote in November.
Editor's Note: A printed version of this letter originally appeared in the February 16th edition, the Culpeper Star Exponent, and is now on-line here, and has been re-posted on this blog with the author's permission.