I just listened to an NPR report on gun and ammunition sales. According to the reporter, and the Texas gun shop owner she interviewed, gun sales went through the roof and ammunition out the door the day after the election, and it has not slowed down. The gun shop owner said is was due to fear: fear that Obama would take away their ammunition and impose confiscatory taxes on gun sales or even take them away altogether. After all, if he is already taking away the banks, car companies, oil companies and who knows what else, as well as squandering our hard earned money on bailouts and welfare for people who don’t work as hard as we do. What else will he start taking away with all this socialism? In the end, he said, it came down to the need to defend one’s self and property against all those criminals, who, if they suspected that guns and ammunition were restricted, would unleash a flood of violence against innocent hard working people like us.
This kind of irrational hysteria is, in my opinion, a combination of fear driven ignorance nourished by the worst of the ultra right wing talk radio commentators who deliberately encourage it with outlandish hate filled distortions of truth. We have seen some of the fruits of this kind of thinking in the dramatic increase in shooting rampages inflicted, not by criminals, but by dads, moms, brothers, sisters, and former friends and associates. I’m too saddened to be outraged. And I’m especially saddened that a good percentage of these ignorant fear driven souls probably claim the name of Christ as well. I know a few of them, and at least among those few, any challenge to their way of thinking is met with an instantaneous and angry defense. What a way to live: fearful, angry and armed.
If I had my way, I’d like to see us license gun owners just as we license drivers. There would be age limits as well as required study and a test. Permits and background checks would be required for all gun sales and not just some, and guns would be registered just as automobiles are registered. That, of course, is precisely what the gun nuts fear the most as the immediate and certain sign that the end of America as we know it has come.
As we approach Good Friday, let us reflect on how far fear driven human behavior can go in defense of its worst motivations.