Dorothy van den Honert: Macho posturing is at root of America's gun madness


PITTSFIELD >> Three of the happiest years of my life... I'll get to those maybe in an article I had started to write, but I had to answer the doorbell before I typed anything more, which necessitated going past the TV. It was wallowing in the murders at San Bernadino. The massacre was the same old story — idiot people who apparently feel that their religion is best promoted by mass murders.

There is no reason I have ever heard that justifies allowing civilians to own guns. Not one. If nobody has a gun, no one will successfully break into your house with one. Gangs would lose their masculine appeal. Children would live to grow up. You don't have to shoot a deer for dinner. You can do without antlers over your fireplace.

The Constitution does not say civilians can be armed. It says that a well-regulated militia being necessary to our safety, the right of a citizen to be armed must be maintained. But our militias are made up of citizens and we already have three very well-regulated militias — the local police, the state police, and the army, all of which are armed. The rest of us do not constitute any group that can even faintly be called "well-regulated" nor are the rest of us members of any legal group that can be labeled a militia.

So it all comes straight to the male ego. The mindset of ISIS adolescents is at least understandable from a psychiatrist's point of view. But what is it that allows Canadian men, who also have their own West, to escape the cowboy mentality that afflicts Americans?

There is a theory I read about that holds that the West in the two countries were settled in two different ways which the author felt might account for the Canadians' lack of the "Wild West" mentality that poisons the United States.

In the US, the West was settled by a tough bunch of pioneers who wanted some land and had to eliminate the owners to get it. Shooting Indians was what you did. Grabbing others' territory was the quickest way to get some. There were no cops, no soldiers, no militia, no civilized infrastructure already in place to prevent you from grabbing whatever you could, and no laws you might be breaking to slow you down.

Apparently the Canadian West, according to the article, was already sprinkled with deputies and laws so that the pioneers came to settle an already somewhat civilized area of Canada, which made the difference.

It sounds reasonable, and Google tells us that while 35 Australians were murdered with guns in the last year in which information was available, and 200 Canadians were, 9,484 Americans made the grade, beating out every civilized country for which figures were available. You oughta' see the graphs!

If you talk to some nice person who wants to have guns available, his first reason is that he needs one to protect himself. He doesn't see the connection between his irrational fear and the fear a parent is beginning to feel as his little girl starts off in the morning to kindergarten.

He never considers the fact that in his neighborhood, nobody has been robbed in 30 years, and the worst danger a child faces is being hit by a car as he runs after a ball into the street. He won't admit that there's no way to pick out murderers with psychiatrists and paper work. People who seriously believe that mental health screening will solve the problem are whistling Dixie and endangering the rest of us.

There are only two ways to stop the carnage. One is to get rid of the guns, the other is to get rid of the ammunition. A buy-back of guns would be very expensive and very difficult although it has been done. A buy-back of ammo may be less expensive, and if accompanied by making it illegal to possess (not to say, use) any would help. Making it a 20-years-in-the-pokey offense to own a gun would be even better! Try getting that past the gun freaks. But if you forbade people to own ammunition, the people who collect interesting old gun models could keep a thousand if they wanted to and the man whose hobby is shooting can take out his desires in a shooting gallery.

I wonder how many hideous tragedies we will require to civilize this otherwise civilized country? C'mon, boys, wake up and grow up.

Dorothy van den Honert is a frequent Eagle contributor.


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