Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Terrible Cost of a Comma

And so we experience one more fusillade because of a comma.  How have we gotten here?  The founding fathers (you remember them, the guys that crafted a great but imperfect constitution for our fledgling country) were unable to anticipate: that we would have a standing army so that militias were unnecessary, that  weapons of today are not muzzle loaders but instead are capable of expelling many rounds of death in a very short time, and that an industry built on that capability would have found a way to place these weapons of death into the hands of sick individuals.

Welcome to our world.

I just read that modifying a semi-automatic weapon like an AR-15  to fully automatic is illegal (the implication is that it's not impossible) but there is a crank that one can legally purchase for $40.00 that will pull the trigger faster than a human.  Oh, by the way, I don't care if it was a Colt, Bushmaster, or whatever, the concept of being able to execute people faster than a human can pull the trigger holds, because all the device needs to do is pull said trigger.

Let me be clear about a couple of things in case any 2nd amendment folks are reading: I hunted as a young man, I owned weapons, I am a veteran of almost seven years active duty at which time I qualified expert at every annual test.  I know weapons.

Two truths come to mind immediately:

  • A weapon of the type mentioned above is not a hunter's tool, no hunter worth the name would use one.  As my father (a pre-WWII marine) often told me while he was teaching me to use and respect a weapon, "If you can't hit your target with one shot, you got no business shooting at it."  Other gems from this expert of experts (he shot  expert with the Marine rifle team at a 1,000 yard range without a scope. Try it sometime.)  "Treat every weapon you see or touch as if it was loaded." and "Never point a weapon at anything you don't intend to shoot."  
  • There is no courage in our elected officials to address the issue in any meaningful way.  Prayers, condolences, and other comments by them are self-serving meaningless gestures.  What must happen, and I have no idea how, is that the people of this country need a serious attitude adjustment.  There is no point other than intimidation in 'open carry' advocates carrying assault rifles or sidearms into a populated area.  There is no point other than money for companies to produce and sell them. There is no point, other than money and power, for a once-honorable organization that concentrated on gun safety. to lobby for the right to carry them.
The entire rationale surrounding this abomination is based on willfully ignoring a comma.  Words and their misinterpretation can clearly hurt one more than sticks and stones.


  1. Tom, I agree, of course, with all you wrote here, and now that we're living in a place where a few anarchy-supporting men fly gigantic Confederate flags while gunning their trucks, so their attempts at intimidation do affect people more because we must assume that their truck cabs have at least one automatic or "semi-automatic" modified weapon. I am reading and re-reading George Lakoff's book, revised version of Don't Think of an Elephant, to be followed by reading his Moral Politics, and thinking how progressives can re-frame the "Second Amendment" discussion to encourage people who aren't yet die-hard right-wingers to get active on the progressive side, and to vote. After Tuesday's sweeps across the US, I'm hopeful.

    1. Erratum: meant to delete the "that" on the second line above.