May 24, 2000
America: Land of the Stupid Cowboys
The Bill of Rights makes absolutely no mention of handguns. What it says is that we have the right to bear arms (and well just skip the well-regulated militia part for the time being). I believe that non-automatic rifles completely fulfill this right: deer rifles, elephant rifles, 30-30 Winchesters, M-1 carbines, 12-gauge over-and-under pump shotguns, etc.
I am a Libertarian and I still believe that there needs to be regulation regarding weapons. The general public has no use for automatic weapons, mortars, flame-throwers, Bouncing Bettys, Claymore mines, ballistic missiles, and they also have no good use for handguns, either.
Concealed weapons are illegal. This is not a bad law as laws go. It makes me just a hair more secure believing that most people do not have a weapon on them that I cant see.
Now, given that concealed weapons are illegal, and thats a reasonable law, what exactly is the advantage of a handgun over a rifle? Its smaller. And why is smaller better? For the sole purpose of concealment.
And we all fucking know this! But we all pretend like we dont know it because its easier that way, and for Americans now, the easy way is always the better way.
Americans have developed a stupid streak that no amount of education or clear alternate examples will rid them of.
I have spent about a year and a half down in New Zealand. Handguns are illegal there and always have been. Cops dont have guns there. Guess what? Nobody ever gets shot. Shootings are not part of daily life there (it makes the newspaper rather boring, but that seems like a perfectly reasonable trade-off to me). New Zealanders get drunk, get in fights, stab each other and, every now and again, even go get a rifle and shoot each other -- but not very often. It really takes the spontaneity out of it if instead of reaching into your jacket, pulling a pistol and shooting someone, you must drive home, get your rifle and drive back. Even if you live nearby its a hassle.
But honestly, I think deep down Americans LIKE shooting each other, it perpetuates the American cowboy mythos. Smile when you say that, pardner. BOOM! Plug em in the guts. Were rootin-tootin, gun-slingin Americans, and if we want to get shit-faced and shoot up the saloon, thats our God-given right.
Is there honestly one adult American who seriously believes that if we all had handguns wed be safer? Thats like believing that you can calm down a class a 5th graders by giving them all pees and pee-shooters.
We Americans have got ourselves completely befuddled. We seriously believe that we are the freest nation on Earth, yet we have more of our own population in jail than any other country in the world. Whats up with that, huh? Are we living in the land of the free or the land of the incarcerated?
But lets get back to what idiots Americans are, OK? We will happily destroy young peoples lives arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating them for smoking pot when we all know that pot is a much happier, safer drug than the much more popular and deadly alcohol. Nobody gets into fights or commits crimes when theyre high on pot, and it actually makes you pay more attention to your driving.
But we stupidly persist in keeping marijuana illegal and alcohol available on every corner in every store. Ask any taxi driver in Amsterdam (as I have) which they would prefer to pick up, people from a bar or people from a coffeeshop (where you get the pot) -- they always choose the people from the coffeeshop, who are funny and friendly, as opposed to the drunks, who are obnoxious, snotty and looking to start a fight.
We Americans have also come to believe that democracy and capitalism are the same thing. Sadly, though, shareholders are a lot more important than citizens. In the name of profit and the bottom line it is now perfectly OK to fuck your entire community. Staying competitive is far more admirable than being a good citizen. In fact, being rich makes you better than a citizen, you become a super-citizen, or uber-citizen, with twice the rights of the average citizen.
True civil rights have occurred in America. What most people dont realize is that civil rights dont begin at the bottom with the poor people, they begin at the top with the rich people. Poor people will ultimately get their civil rights last. Right now if you are a rich enough American of any race, creed or color you too can get away with murder -- just look at O. J. Simpson. And thats choice, top-end civil rights at their finest because O. J. got to brutally stab both an attractive white woman and an attractive white man and got away with it. Oh, sure, it was a little shocking at the time, but we all got past it pretty quickly. He had enough money to buy his way out, so he did -- thats the American way and the sign of true equality. Now if O. J. gets his own late-night talk show I dont think anyone would be particularly surprised or outraged.
And you see, O. J. didnt need a handgun, he got the job done with a knife, and so can the rest of us. Come on, people, use your imaginations.
There is a blind stupidity in Americans now that can be seen very clearly in the eyes of Bill Clinton and George Bush the Younger. It says, Ill put as many of my fellow Americans in jail as humanly possible in the name of freedom and you cant stop me.
You and I both know for a fact that if Clinton, Bush, jr. or Gore were visiting an old college buddy (like, Tommy Lee Jones, lets say), and they knew they were alone, and the buddy lit up a joint, theyd either ignore it or join in. It means absolutely nothing, and they and you and I all know it. But change the stupid laws? No way! They might lose the vote of one asshole in the Bible Belt that gets drunk every weekend and beats his wife and kids.
Worse than the handguns themselves, I think, is the defeatist attitude that has developed in America which says that nothing can possibly be done about it anymore. Of course something can be done. If the sale and manufacture of handguns was made illegal today, in ten years all the handguns would be out of the system and the police could turn theirs in, too. In twenty years Americans would look back and think it was completely insane that a mere twenty years earlier there were more handguns than people in the U.S. and that crimes were committed at the point of a handgun every 5 seconds.
In New Zealand they have democracy and freedom and no handguns. The cops there dont have guns and dont need them. This is not a pipe dream, its entirely real and works just fine.
We Americans have become afraid of change. The systems busted, the laws dont make sense and theres nothing we can do about it. We throw our hands in the air in resignation.
Nor is it that if you banned handguns crime would go away. Gangs dont do drive-by shooting with pistols, they use automatic rifles, like: Uzis, M-16s, and AK-47s, all of which are already illegal. But thats no problem, everyone of these weapons can be purchased legally in a semi-automatic form that with a $1.95 worth of alterations can be turned right back into an automatic weapon.
I am personally not interested in any place that has the slogan: You can pry my weapon from my cold, dead hands. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but it just doesnt sound friendly.
I will not believe for one second that the United States of America is so fucked up that we can no longer fix it. I will not throw my hands in the air in resignation over handguns, crime or stupid drug laws. Things can improve. If I do my little bit and you do your little bit and we stand up for the right things, we can absolutely improve our lazy culture and our abhorrent crime and jail statistics.
Handguns do not equal freedom anymore than democracy equals capitalism. As long as Americans continue to stupidly not differentiate between these things, the longer we will continue this cycle of blind ignorance were presently caught in.
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