GEORGIA ON MY MIND
I thought about going to the National Rifle Association convention last weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana just to see what I could see. However, I couldn’t get a hotel room because it seems that some 70,000 other folks got a hotel room before me and showed up for a whole weekend of wallowing in gun culture and all the other right-wing trappings that go with it. In addition to the usual cacophony of government bashing, immigrant bashing, and put a boot up your ass patriotism, there were firearms exhibits galore, bringing near orgasmic response from the multitudes. And about the time you had your fill of fantasy killing everything from endangered rhinos to humans you don’t like, the convention offered up a prayer breakfast, allowing attendees to pray for their dream firearm and pray that folks like me will drop dead.
What I really wanted to attend, however, was the Stand and Fight Rally that was scheduled for Saturday. I assumed that at this rally, the craziest of the gun nuts would stand and fight someone or something while armed. Think of the shooting gallery for these folks - cutouts of all of the political losers who favor a nation in which gun violence is actually reduced by somehow curtailing the availability of guns. I could also see armed cheerleaders throwing each other into the air firing away while shouting “GOOOO Guns!!!” or “Give me an S” to begin spelling out “Second Amendment.” As it turned out, there were brazen calls to arms and the usual right-wing entertainers cheered on at every turn by adoring attendees. But a bonus special stole the show – Sarah Palin put her big Christian heart on full display to enthusiastically endorse human torture. (Note: I would love to make this stuff up, but I don’t have to.)
This all would be a sideshow worth viewing for laughs if it were only a sideshow. But make no mistake; this annual gun fest is where a sorry collection of warrior wannabes, conspiracy theorists, and gun industry flaks congregate to further arm America. It is the white face of a shameless industry that prays on the paranoid fears of uneducated and undereducated citizens who somehow get convinced that the firearms they own will save them from the governments they abhor and from all manner of bad folks lurking in their neighborhoods, churches, schools and barrooms. It is the face of an industry that cares not one iota about who gets what firearms for what purpose, but only that more people get more firepower.
This brings us to Georgia – the newest member of the carry a gun anywhere parade of states. [See also the following related photo post.] The gun nuts there have just passed a law that will allow licensed gun owners (a extremely low bar in Georgia) and visitors from other states to bring a gun into a bar without restrictions and allow school districts to decide whether they want some employees to carry a firearm and religious leaders to decide whether to allow gun owners to come fully armed to their church, synagogue or mosque (this "mosque" idea was surely a mistake soon to be corrected). Just for good measure, the new Georgia law allows folks to carry a firearm into some government buildings that don't have building security. Perhaps a couple of examples will help explain why this latter concept seemed like a good idea to Georgians:
1) Let’s say that the hot librarian refused to go out with you because you can’t read and reek of gunpowder – now you can head to the library and teach her a lesson about real men who pack real heat and shoot real bullets in real places where law abiding adults and children who can read are trying to do so.
2) You know that speed camera that gets you every time – before the new law you had to be content to just shoot out the camera. Now, you will be able to go one better – now you can go to the Department of Motor Vehicles office and shoot the guy who keeps repairing it.
I could go on with a veritable catalogue of the ways in which this new Georgia gun law and others like it elsewhere are transforming a nation supposedly dedicated to liberty and justice for all into an armed camp where liberty and justice is measured by how much firepower you and your friends can obtain, carry, conceal and eventually use. One day soon, it will happen that a god-fearing gun nut will take his pistol to a church where the clergyman in charge has opened his pastoral arms to armaments and then decide that someone or something has offended him and start shooting. In the midst of the carnage, prayers will abound, a shocked nation will cringe, and the arms merchants will double their sales. If not a church, then a school, a library, or a government-run hospital….
I want to be wrong about this. I want to believe that it is all about guns for hunting, but it just isn’t. It is about the type of place you want to live and about the type of people in our midst who are the real threat. It’s not the guy from El Salvador who mows your lawn or the government clerk who sends your disability check; it is the gun nuts who live among us who threaten us all.*
[*Note: As if on cue – this very day, a loyal Fed Ex employee in Georgia armed with an assault rifle went to his Fed Ex facility and shot six people and then killed himself.]