(Originally published on 1/16/2013 at 9:25 p.m.)
In many ways, it was painful to watch the President’s media op today regarding his actions on stemming the doubtful tide of gun violence with even more doubtful activity. Dramatically signing his executive actions after high-fiving four good-hearted and well-meaning children gave me pause to think. “What did we learn from the show today, Ron?” (with a tip of the cap to Craig Ferguson)
First, there is very little action in any of the actions. Directing Executive Branch agencies to more vigorously carry out their assigned duties is empty. Offering to fund more research on whether or not violent video games lead to real world violence is merely advancing the National Debt to fund faculty research into media effects. Been there, done that, outcome doubtful. Common sense suggests that Josef Stalin never had an Xbox, even though he slaughtered millions. Lizzie Borden never had a PlayStation, just an axe. Maybe people predisposed to violence choose violent video games. Correlation does not equal causation. As for myself, I like killing (gasp!) time with a little Madden or WWE. However, I have socially acceptable outlets for my aggression, like the driving golf balls or hammering nails into a privacy fence in constant need thereof.
Second, of the “big three” Congressional actions he requested, renewal of the assault weapons ban, banning magazines of more than 10 rounds, and universal background checks, only one has any practical application (and none of them can get through a Congress with Republicans and Blue-Dog Democrats in abundance). There was a time when doing instant background checks at gun shows was not possible with the technology of the times. Now, a licensed firearms dealer can have in the palm of his hand a smartphone than can access the Web, call in to the appropriate State authority, and even swipe the credit card on-site. Anyone looking to sell products whose costs are in the hundreds and thousands of dollars, ought to be able to afford this low tech threshold. It’s just the cost of doing business in the 21st Century.
The other two proposals are pap for the liberal supporters of the Administration. Dropping and changing magazines is a matter of seconds, even for the clumsy. I would be interested in finding out how the number 10 was picked. Perhaps the Vice-President removed his shoes during one of his task force meetings. It’s a common number but by no means magic in firearms. Six-shooters arose because that was a good number for that size cylinder in many calibers. However, there care 5-shot cylinders (as in my .44) and 7-shot cylinders (as in Grandpa’s .22). If you really want to put a lot of rounds down range in a hurry, may I recommend a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot? Hmmm, no magazine at all …
The definition of “assault weapon” remains amorphous. As best I can determine, it is a synonym for “black and scary-looking.” Sen. Feinstein’s proposed list of prohibited “military features” includes the thumbhole stock. I didn’t know that she had such opposition to Olympic-style target shooting with rifles that fire .22 shorts. As I think John Wayne once said, “You shoot someone with that, you’re really gonna make them mad.” I confess that, as a 6th-Generation Texan, I grew up on my Saturday morning cowboys. Does no one else remember the opening of Chuck Connors as “The Rifleman” on television? A lever-action Winchester can certainly generate rapid fire in trained hands. I have one, with the big lever loop, and it has no “military features” to make in an assault weapon.
All of which brings me to my third main point. Much blather and bloviation goes on about how civilians do not need access to the same style of firearms as police and military. That was never in the Founders intent when the Second Amendment was written. As I recall, not from actually being there but I have read books, the only real difference between the British musket and American musket was the shooter’s accent. The Second Amendment fully intended citizens to have EXACTLY what an army of its day would have. Google up the history and development of the Swiss policies on private citizens all being members of a well-regulated militia and much can be learned.
Perhaps those who do not study history are not just doomed to repeat it. Maybe they are just doomed…
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Dr. Ron Thomas, Jr.
Dr. Ron Thomas, Jr. teaches journalism and public relations in the graduate program at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. He also heads Thomas Consulting Group, a consortium of experts in crisis management, media relations and leadership development.