A Confederate Yankee
By Bill Mayers
(Town of Sullivan, NY – March 2013) It’s been refreshing, over the past few weeks, to see a variety of thoughtful, respectful commentary on gun control, in contrast to the rabid, nonsensical bellowing from the far right. It gives a guy hope, though it certainly won’t happen overnight, that reasonable, responsible tightening of firearms legislation is coming.
More and more, people are coming to the realization that we all have a right to be free from fear of guns.
That fear is justified: the majority of firearms-related deaths in this country are the result of misuse of firearms by those very same law-abiding citizens the NRA leadership so self-righteously points to. There’s a statistic many gun advocates don’t like to hear: the presence of a firearm, particularly a handgun, in the home vastly increases the likelihood that someone who belongs in that home – someone who lives with the gun owner – will be killed with that gun by its owner.
So-called “patriot militias” have increased in numbers over the last four years, as unreasoned fears grow. They rant about keeping military-style firearms in order to keep the government afraid of its citizens, as terroristic a threat as any heard from al-Quaida or North Korea.
There are more than 1,600 such groups tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Most are found in the far western areas of the country. Some of them are relatives of mine. And when one asks why they’re so upset, their answers reveal confusion, misunderstanding and, yes, an oft-times seriously childish attitude.
As kids, we loved to play Cowboys ‘n Indians and Cops ‘n Robbers. Some of these folks have not outgrown that. Others are willfully ignorant. But they can be persuaded of the errors in their thinking.
The problem isn’t just guns. It’s our culture. Some 70 to 80 million of us see a need to own firearms. More than adolescent thrills, millions of us see the things as defense against fear – fear of criminals, fear of government overreach.
Tyranny and the destruction of individual rights have been a curse of peoples everywhere; we need to find ways to reassure gun advocates that government is not the enemy.
Fears of home invasions and personal attacks are not without reason. We need to find ways to reassure people that the best defense against personal assault or home invasion is a well-trained and well-equipped police force and not ever-more guns in private hands.
The government is not after you, folks.
In a recent newspaper column, a gentleman who holds a more favorable view of unrestricted gun ownership attempts to provide solutions to ghastly crimes such as the Sandy Hook massacre. Some of his thoughts are quite reasonable. Some, unfortunately, are mere flights of fancy without the technology to make them, and some of them are impossibly expensive.
More than this is the fact that we actually do enforce the laws we have, and there isn’t a vast liberal conspiracy amongst the judiciary.
Bottom line: the measures we’ve taken in the past aren’t working. Slaughter with guns has surpassed the rate of automobile accident deaths. It’s way past time to take stronger measures and to make them uniform across state borders.
We don’t have to seize all privately-held firearms, but we do need to be firm about it; tell your legislators to get serious.
William D. “Bill” Mayers RT, RN, of Sullivan is a retired senior U.S. Army Corpsman. A certified healthcare professional since 1964, he holds two professional licenses, including that of Registered Professional Nurse licensed in New York, Alaska, Virginia and Louisiana. He has four children, two stepchildren, two grandchildren and is an avid analyst of current events.