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Saturday, 16 January 2016 09:52

Serody: Who are the Real Terrorists?

Written by  Bob Serody, Team SCPA

Posted January 16, 2016
Issue: Guns in the USA, cont'd.


Who are the Real Terrorists?
By Bob Serody
Every time we look at ourselves in the mirror, we miss what really makes us unique when compared to other countries.  It is a legacy that passes down from generation to generation: that we individually have the right to bear arms.  Although we act shocked at incidents like Sandy Hook Elementary School, many of us eventually shrug it off by saying it has nothing to do with our gun culture.  Rather it occurred because the perpetrator was either mentally sick or he was simply a terrorist.
A friend recently reminded me that the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, "was a normal occurrence, just an ordinary, and a very insignificant, happening in our nation on a typical day”.  He also mentioned "31,000 Americans are killed in an average year due to gun violence in this country, or about 85 people daily, according to The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and indirectly, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That is about the same number of Americans who are killed in car accidents each year, about 33,000 fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute."
His point was that "Americans did not wring their hands over the other 71-people killed in the unrelated gun deaths that occurred on the same day as the San Bernardino event, killings that occurred elsewhere in the United States.  They don't wring their hands over the others because they know that gun-violence is normal for our culture."
In fact, "compared to normal gun death rates in the United States, war is a good deal less violent.  According to a Mother Jones report here, more Americans are shot to death over a 25-year stretch than have died in every war since the United States was founded in 1776!”
“Imagine that.", he continued.  "More Americans have been shot to death in the last 25-years than all the Americans who ever died in every war America ever fought over the last 239 years, including the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and all others combined."
His comments definitely put things into perspective.  "Soaring gun death rates are normal for our way of life; they are part of what defines the United States and what defines its citizens; it describes who we are as a people, and what we have become as a nation."
He continued.   "From these facts it is clear, no terrorist can ever do to Americans what Americans regularly do to themselves.  The word terrorism loses all meaning in a nation filled to the brim with gruesome murders from handguns, assault rifles, and anything that can fire a bullet.  The thought of "terrorism" is a concept at which Americans could quite justifiably laugh.  For how terrifying can any foreign savage be with his rare killings and his empty threats when gun-deaths are nearly as commonplace here as fatal car accidents?"

He concluded, "The only real terrorist threat by far to Americans isn't ISIL or al-Qaeda; it's the NRA, a true terrorist organization that has made war on Americans and which has the actual means to carry it out.  The NRA's most potent weapon consists of fourteen words in a 224-year old piece of parchment that allows the NRA's generals and its foot soldiers to keep the conflict raging indefinitely, preventing any hope of peace in this war torn land.  Year after endless year, the NRA and those fourteen words it uses as a bulwark against logic, against common sense, and against rationality make it possible to fell another 31,000 Americans in their merciless and relentless bloodbath."  
"Thus, only the greatest of fools would be afraid of foreign-born terrorists, given the real danger from within, the NRA and its most potent weapon, a cancer hatched from our own Constitution that kills the citizens that the Constitution is designed to protect, a weapon that promotes this threat and guarantees that the extreme death rates will exist in perpetuity.”
My friend, by branding the NRA as a terrorist organization was, in effect, saying that it, along with the gun manufacturers it serves, must take ultimate responsibility for the high rate of gun deaths in the United States, regardless of whether they fall in the categories of robberies, murders, domestic violence, and even acts of terrorism.  The laws that permit easy access to efficient killing machines also brand lawmakers, who support the NRA’s agenda by accepting campaign donations from its lobbyists, as conspirators for selling themselves to the highest bidder.  Finally, the people who elect these lawmakers must share the blame for these murders.
It reminds me of an episode in the TV program, Law and Order, where the DA demonstrated how easy it was to commit mass murder with the weapon used to kill a large number of people in Central Park.  He did this be pouring all the bullets held by the magazine onto the table in front of the jury. The gun manufacturer was on trial, but in the end, in spite of the guilty verdict by the jury, the judge reversed the decision, saying that the law was clear.  The manufacturer had the right to supply these weapons to the public.
It also reminds me of the gun ranges which invite family participation, including young children, to fire Uzi machine guns.  In one particular event, the child accidentally shot and killed the instructor.
My friend’s condemnation prompted me to look for a solution to the dilemma.  I recalled that in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead, retired Justice John Paul Stevens was looking for ways to prevent a repeat. His answer was to write a book that proposed no fewer than six changes to the Constitution, of which two are directly linked to guns.  The book, "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” was published two days after Stevens’ 94th birthday.
One amendment would allow Congress to force state participation in gun checks, while the second would change the Second Amendment to permit gun control.  He acknowledged that his proposed change would "allow Congress to do something unthinkable in today’s environment: ban gun ownership altogether.” Although he knew that "changing the Second Amendment was pretty remote,” Stevens said, “The purpose is to cause further reflection over a period of time, because…with ample time and reflection, people in the United States would come to the same conclusion that people in other countries have.”
And that is the point.  With 300 million guns in private hands in the United States, it’s very difficult to devise a non-intrusive, “common-sense” approach to regulating their exchange by individuals.  Ultimately, you need more than background checks; you need many fewer guns in circulation, period.

These changes will not occur overnight.  It will probably not occur in my lifetime or possibly even in the lifetime of the next generation.  But I believe it will occur if we can overcome the power of the corporations to influence the elections.  Universal background checks and the banning of semiautomatic weapons are simply common sense.  The recent defeat of the bill in Congress to prevent the ownership of guns by those placed on the terrorist watch list, and even the resistance by the NRA to allow the sale of guns with fail-safe fingerprint identification, indicates who the real culprits are in explaining the number of deaths due to gun violence.  Certainly, the legal possession of semiautomatic weapons among the public will continue to contribute to the number of murders in future incidents, but who's counting?
So the next time we all look in the mirror, it is time to recognize we are still living in the age of our own revolution.  It will take some time to educate ourselves that we are now living in the 21st century.

Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance



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Compiled by Team SCPA


Last modified on Sunday, 07 February 2016 14:50
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