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Sunday, 18 February 2018 19:25

The NRA and Tribalism

Written by  Bob Serody

We often wonder if our country has issues that tend to divide more than unite us. Certainly, this feeling of animosity among us will be one of Trump’s legacies when he is gone. Of all these issues, none is more horrifying than the recent number of school shootings. These tragedies are an indication that we are falling apart as a country of moral values. Why are our elected officials not united in addressing this issue? Isn’t it obvious that a semi-automatic weapon in the hands of a disturbed individual is a recipe for disaster? Isn’t it also obvious that using common sense to change our gun laws can prevent mass killings? Don’t those elected officials who continuously side with the National Rifle Association (NRA) after each mass shooting ever ask the simple question, “What if the victims had been my kids?”

In Florida, our lawmakers are moving to promote aggression, not eliminate it. We have a “stand your ground” law that encourages an angry person to not only carry concealed weapons, but to find an excuse to promote a gun shooting incident, and then say that the gun was used for self-defense. We even have a law in Florida preventing doctors from asking their patients questions regarding gun safety to ensure so-called privacy. Our lawmakers also attempted to pass legislation that would allow students to carry guns on campus, such as colleges, by using the excuse that it is necessary for self-protection. (I think that a disgruntled student would be more likely to use the gun to shoot his professor.) Persons with aggressive tendencies who are fearful of others also believe that owning rapid-fire weapons are necessary to protect themselves from the federal government, for they feel the government’s only purpose is to disarm them and take away their freedoms. Over time, the NRA has evolved from an organization representing those who hunt game to one that promotes military style weapons with large magazines to increase the profits of gun manufacturers. These manufacturers strongly rely on one natural trait, man’s desire to make war on his own species.

To understand the larger issue that drives us to bear arms, it is necessary to reexamine history. As man developed into the dominant species on Earth, survival required the need to band together into tribes. As man utilized agriculture to feed himself on a larger scale, tribes could band together to form what we today call civilization. Unfortunately, as we evolved, aggression must have been pre-wired into our brain patterns. Mankind made numerous efforts to understand its environment including where it came from, in order to develop traditional forms of behavior for providing a feeling of security.   Instead our ancestors separated into thousands of tribal groups holding an incredible number of superstitious beliefs. This eventually led to a small percentage of people exerting overall control by implementing torture and murder to enforce trivial points of doctrine.

How do we account for such irrational behavior? Lucretius, a Roman poet and philosopher, and the author of The Nature of Things, nailed it when he said that religion was the by-product of fear. Fear in turn leads to cruelty. History is full of instances where tribalism and superstition have resulted in murder, rape, torture, famine and epidemics, man’s reward for making war in the name of religion and divine right. Those in power took advantage of tribalism and superstition to further their ambitions of conquest and power. Eventually, wars were fought not over religion but over nationalism. As newer and deadlier weapons were developed, countless millions of deaths resulted from wars involving the entire planet. We are now at a point where democracies and totalitarian regimes coexist. They have to, since stockpiles now include weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them in a manner of minutes as the final means of settling disputes. However, are our attitudes that different today that we can ignore the lessons of the past?

How does all this relate to the latest atrocity committed on the grounds of Parkland high school in Florida? In comparing the United States with other democracies, we immediately notice a huge difference. We are the most powerful country in the world; yet we have the most lax set of gun laws among our citizens. In Florida, a person 18 years old can legally purchase a rifle, and this includes an AR15 semiautomatic weapon. State laws permit this in spite of the number of incidents involving school massacres because of the policies of the NRA and its bribes to our elected representatives. Now all it takes for a horrific act is a mentally disturbed 19 year-old youth with years of obvious symptoms of aggression. Hopefully, we see the connection associated with this disturbed individual’s motives, our lax gun laws, and the tribal characteristics of the human race that allow us to tolerate recurring acts of violence. Whatever caused this 19-year old to strike out, he was after blood, and he legally possessed the means to carry out this atrocity. The NRA is only too happy to take advantage of these connections, and in the process it sets itself up as the defender of the American right to possess these weapons. Why? Because we deserve to be protected from terrorists and from the mentally disturbed. Want to stop these atrocities? Just arm the teachers and put guards at the entrance to every floor, and no one will dare to invade our schools again. Even though the NRA knows this won’t happen beyond lock-down drills, its purpose is to frighten enough people to procure more guns and bullets, and the donations of gun lobbyists to our crooked politicians will continue to preserve the laws that allow tribalism to flourish.

Our species has been committing mass murders throughout history, and the final war among nations, if we fail to curb these aggressive tendencies, will be nuclear. Maybe it will take quite a while to become a really civilized species, but I would like to think that through the process of education and further discoveries, we are moving in that direction, for science is continuously providing us with answers regarding our makeup and behavior.

A simple, effective first step is to ban assault weapons from being made available to the general public, and to identify those who would most likely use them. It is time for everyone to shout to their representatives that our need for security must outweigh individual freedoms that result in violent acts. During the next elections, we must replace them with public servants who know how to refuse money from the NRA. Just ask the relatives and friends of the 17 dead victims at Parkland High School.  We’ve got to do what works instead of what is politically expedient.

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 Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local, regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 15:01
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