Posts Tagged ‘gun control’

IN THE NAME OF GOD

The famed evangelist Billy Graham was buried today. As a kid in the ’fifties, I saw bits of his massive TV revivals. Later, more evangelical leaders spoke publicly in the name of God. Is God pleased?

Since the social upheavals of the ’sixties, many evangelicals have circled the wagons. A movement that shunned politics turned highly political. Issues ranging from abortion to gun control became emblematic of Christian identity.

The result? Many evangelical leaders will back any politician—no matter how un-Christian his speech and behavior—who supports their objectives. If the president of the United States—or any other politician—talks and acts in ways ecumenical leaders would condemn in their own families and churches, they give him a pass. Why such tolerance for sin?

David Brody, evangelical author and host of “Faith Nation” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, explained in last Sunday’s New York Times, “… the goal of evangelicals has always been winning the larger battle over control of the culture, not to get mired in the moral failings of each and every candidate. For evangelicals, voting in the macro is the moral thing to do, even if the candidate is morally flawed.”

In the name of God, proponents of morality support immoral men and excuse their iniquities to control America—Brody’s word. Sadly, some politically conservative Jews do the same. If Donald Trump professes staunch support for Israel, Torah doesn’t matter. Barack Obama’s $38 billion aid package to the Jewish State? Dismissed.

I have no desire to bash evangelicals. The movement includes Christians of good faith. I understand their pain that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians continues to fall. But many evangelicals also fear the demographic reality that whites soon will comprise less than fifty percent of the population. Women can exercise their own judgment to have an abortion. LGBTQ Americans maintain their right to live unhindered by others. And most Americans support common-sense gun control.

There’s a meaningful difference between upholding a religious mandate for yourself and forcing your views on others. Evangelicals should feel free to interpret the Christian Bible any way they like. They owe the rest of us the freedom to uphold our own views—religious or secular.

Billy Graham saw the light. Laurie Goodstein wrote in The Times last Monday that Graham admitted in his later years he had been mistaken in becoming too close to politicians. He also admitted that as a confidante of Richard Nixon, he not only listened to Nixon’s anti-Semitic remarks without protest but responded with anti-Semitic remarks of his own. It takes a big man to fess up.

These days, big men are hard to find. Franklin Graham runs the ministry his father began. In the name of God, Franklin called Islam “a very wicked and evil religion,” proclaimed Barack Obama a Muslim and loudly supports Donald Trump.

Sweeping immoral acts and offensive speech under the rug to advance causes in the name of God only undercuts religious leaders’ credibility. That’s why so many young evangelicals are turning away from their sin-blind elders.

They say politics makes strange bedfellows. Toss religion under the covers, and the nation winds up with the Golden Calf—or at least, Rosemary’s Baby.

What? You don’t know Rosemary’s Baby? Check it out!

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THEY

On HBO’s Homeland, they attempted to assassinate the president of the United States. Another they—the president herself—curbed Constitutional rights. In real life, survivors of the mass shooting at Parkland, Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School demand greater gun control. In response, some Americans believe they have created a conspiracy against gun owners.

Pioneer America accepted citizens’ possession of rifles and pistols. The closing of the frontier and growing urbanization necessitated curbs on weapons for public safety. Over recent decades, the gun lobby pushed back, exhibiting religious reverence for the Second Amendment: A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a  free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Questions abound. Must the right to bear arms be unmindful of technology? Muskets and muzzle-loading, single-shot rifles are relics. Who, boar hunters included, needs an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon—adaptable to automatic—designed for combat? Can any ad hoc group call itself a “well-regulated militia?” What is the National Guard? And are our armed forces our defenders or oppressors?

A large majority of Americans favor stricter gun control rather than abolition. Hunters and people in self-defense mode would not be affected. But a minority holds sacrosanct the position of the National Rifle Association, a political donor with major clout. The NRA, as does President Trump, points to mental illness as the cause of mass shootings. Their solution? Arm teachers.  

Per capita, the U.S. suffers no more mental-health problems than the rest of the world, which experiences far fewer per capita mass shootings. Further, as Dr. Amy Barnhorst of the University of California, Davis, wrote in Tuesday’s New York Times, “The mental health system doesn’t identify most of these people because they don’t come in to get care. And even if they do, laws designed to preserve the civil liberties of people with mental illness place limits on what treatments can be imposed against a person’s will.”

It’s our stock of weapons—about one for each of us—that’s sets America apart.

Still, the slippery slope theory underlies opposition to common-sense gun measures: They want to ban assault-style weapons first—then confiscate all guns. The NRA and its adherents support that position with a second theory.

They plot against the people. On Wednesday, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre excoriated Democrats and liberals: “Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our fire arms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

Stoneman Douglas survivors disagree. These young people, at the muzzle-end of real horror, have been eloquent in calling for banning assault-style weapons and determined in confronting politicians. So?

A Florida legislative assistant claimed that two students are actors; he was dismissed. A YouTube video singles out one student as an actor; it may still be online. Rush Limbaugh claimed that the students are being used by the Democrats; he’s still on the air. And Internet broadcaster Alex Jones—on whom Homeland based a major character—preaches that the dead children of Sandy Hook, Connecticut (2012 shooting) and their parents were actors.

Top that? Last Tuesday, as Stoneman Douglas students bused to Tallahassee, the Florida House voted 71–36 against discussing banning assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Now I’m wondering, exactly who are they?

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FINGERS ON THE TRIGGER

Two weeks ago, I wrote about paranoia in Middle America. Last week, I wondered about the nuclear deal with Iran. A recent experience and a reader’s comments induce me to amplify my remarks.

Regarding paranoia, many Americans fear both crime and an encroaching federal government. They often turn to guns for protection. Fear of Washington is misplaced, I believe. Not so fear of crime—particularly in small towns and rural areas.

Carolyn and I spent last weekend among the redwoods up north in Humboldt County with my cousin and her husband—I’ll call him Bob. Summer days reach 100 degrees. Nights cool down. Perfect for growing marijuana. Seemingly powerless, Humboldt civic leaders throw their hands in the air—or look the other way. The economy depends on pot. Many Humboldt residents oppose legalization to keep the industry in place, prices high and money circulating.

Big-time operators, including Mexican cartels according to Bob, have established huge grows. Bob points to the mountains—challenging terrain for law enforcement. Big grows exist on federal and tribal (Hoopa) lands. Growers level hilltops and divert streams. They set out poison to kill “invasive” deer. They’re also heavily armed. You don’t want to hike up there.

Job seekers abound. But growers hire only people they trust. Rebuffed, unsavory characters engage in crime. In Bob’s quiet neighborhood, break-ins occur with disturbing frequency. Several took place while we were there. One neighbor doesn’t bother locking his door. It’s cheaper to lose something trivial than replace a doorframe. Guns go off. Saturday night, I heard a rifle shot. Possibly someone was hunting—illegally. (Summers, deer forage at night.) Or someone spotted an intruder. Bob—no paranoid—keeps a .38 handy.

Now to Iran. Chris, a friend of a regular reader, states that Americans misunderstand that country. Having lived in Iran and traveled extensively, he believes that Iranians don’t mean it when they march, chanting “Death to America! Death to Israel!” It’s all a wink-and-nod affair. The marchers are bused in and paid. They also get “brownie points” from the government. University admission might ride on participation. Chris also emphasizes that the government is weaker than Americans think. “There are so many cabals and power camps that it makes ours look like streamlined, FAR more complex than red vs. blue.”

My response: No and yes. No, not all Iranians hate America. Or even Israel (not so sure there). Yes, Iran’s threat in the Middle East is real. Most Iranians may wish only to pursue their education, careers and family matters. But the ayatollahs and the military, chiefly the Republican Guard, still hold their fingers on the trigger to extend Iran’s influence. They support their regional proxies in doing the same. When Tehran—the government as opposed to the people—launches its version of street theater, the world rightly takes such hostility seriously. Still, I agree that ordinary Iranians have much in common with us.

Bottom line: I’m skeptical that we’ll enhance our security by arming ourselves to the teeth at home. Or dropping bombs half a world away. But let’s listen to those who fret that the world can be a scary place. It can be. Common sense might lead us to common ground. And wouldn’t that be refreshing?

Read the first two chapters of FLIGHT OF THE SPUMONIS here at www.davidperlstein.com. You can get a signed copy from me—July sale priced at $15 plus $3 postage if required—or order a soft cover or e-book at Amazon.com.

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PARANOIA AND BANG-BANG

Last Saturday, we celebrated July Fourth, official birthday of the United States. But we’ve never been all that united. We endured a bloody Civil War, after all. Blacks and whites lived separately. And only yesterday did South Carolina decide to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds. Key issues divide us. Many seem fueled by paranoia.

Liberals often see themselves and/or others as victims. All of society’s ills stem from ongoing racism and capitalism. Whites cling to entitlement. The “one percent” constitutes a brotherhood of predators. Solution: Tax the damn rich until they bleed! Maybe raise the minimum wage to $25 an hour and guarantee every individual $25,000 a year in income. Plus housing. Doesn’t it work that way in Sweden?

Conservatives fear a rapacious federal government that seeks to strip away Americans’ wealth. They include middle- and lower middle-class citizens struggling from paycheck to paycheck with no wealth to lose. They also believe that liberals don’t care about crime; they abet it. Moreover, the White House and its Black president are waging a war on Christians. Solution: Stock up on guns and ammo, the most lethal money can buy.

If posts I see on Facebook are credible, people I know in Texas, where I once lived, and Arizona really fear for their personal safety. They expect someone to knock down their door and commit mayhem. The news doesn’t comfort them. For example, Baltimore’s homicide rate is up 48% over last year; the mayor just fired the police commissioner. Will ghetto violence spread to white suburban and rural enclaves? Conservatives fear it will.

Conservatives also want to defend their freedom from Washington’s ill intentions. (The libertarians don’t like Washington but appear less threatened.) They celebrate military gear and skills, seeing themselves on freedom’s frontlines like the defenders of the Alamo. (Carolyn and I were married next door.) Interestingly, none ever volunteered for military service.

Honestly, if you love to hunt, kill it and eat it. Target shooting? Enjoy. (It’s fun!) Feel you need a gun for personal protection? I have no beef. But I do offer a caveat. My father’s best friend carried a gun. He was a union biggie in New York, a job entailing considerable risk. However, when a couple of mob goons told him he could retire either standing up or lying down, he moved to Florida. He knew they had much more firepower.

Could it be that guns aren’t the answer? A July 6 report on Yahoo News (Stephanie Pappas for LiveScience) offers the results of yet another study. “’We found no support for the hypothesis that owning more guns leads to a drop or a reduction in violent crime,’ said study researcher Michael Monuteaux, an epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. ‘Instead, we found the opposite.’” The article adds that studies find that as gun ownership goes up so do gun homicides.

But those are just facts. The National Rifle Association insists that guns don’t kill. People do. Conservatives support that position, including politicians threatened by NRA money. Liberals won’t listen to the fears of conservatives—people they fear. (Remember what I wrote about Baltimore?) So Americans will keep turning away from each other rather than seeking common ground. But shoot, at least we’ll all be united—by paranoia.

Read the first two chapters of FLIGHT OF THE SPUMONIS here at www.davidperlstein.com. You can get a signed copy from me—July sale priced at $15 plus $3 postage if required—or order a soft cover or e-book at Amazon.com.

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FEAR IN AMERICA

I check out Facebook. What I often notice—beyond dining and vacation photos—are aphorisms. These witty sayings reflect a variety of interests and concerns ranging from the human spirit to women’s issues to politics. They give the people who post them a chance to vent. They also get me to thinking about how fearful parts of America have become.

The U.S. has suffered a rash of mall and school shootings. Almost all take place in suburbs and small towns. While big cities like Detroit, Chicago and Oakland can be very dangerous places, few mass shootings occur in urban centers.

Why do so many people snap and murder in areas in which Christian identification and church attendance are high? These suburbs and small towns should be stable, peaceful communities. People say that’s why they live in them. I’m not sure they believe that.

I continually see posts from a young man who lives in suburban Dallas. His aphorisms focus on three main themes: Hunting and fishing are great. If you break into my house, I will kill you. And if you are a boy with intentions regarding my daughters, I will kill you. (Note: his daughters are little children.)

Let me set my own record straight. Hunting and fishing are good things though they’re not my interests. No one has the right to break into someone’s house. And no one has the right to harm children. (Many fathers of teen-age girls want to seem menacing to teen-age boys since the boys are preoccupied with thoughts the fathers had when they were teens.)

Further, I believe that anyone of sound mind having properly been vetted has the right to have a weapon in his or her home. Not a military-style assault weapon mind you, but a handgun or a shotgun. Many people do. And still, they live in fear.

My brother-in-law—who also lives in Texas—remarked that a friend had 5,000 rounds of ammunition in his house. Was he pulling my leg? I’m not sure. But this news flash: 5,000 rounds are 4,990-plus more than needed to stop an intruder. If you require 5,000 rounds to defend your home, you’re dead—or fighting a major war.

Given these attitudes—particularly the belief that “they” are coming for God-fearing Americans—the love of weapons and menace continues. The thought of controls on weapons—particularly military-style weapons and handguns with clips holding large numbers of rounds—greatly upsets the patriotic folks in America’s peaceful, religious heartland. A great number of these folks, by the way, have never performed military service.

What does this tell me? Despite the nation’s military and intelligence prowess, many Americans see the United States—and their own communities—as weak. So, despite high church attendance, Scouting and Little League, Smallville may really be a dangerous place.

Still, people on the Internet who declaim how tough they are and support the proliferation of more deadly weapons and ammunition, lead me to suspect that they suffer from an unreasonable and unhealthy dose of fear. The more they bellow about arming for strength, the more they suggest that they may be America’s weakest link.

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Read the first three chapters of The Boy Walker, at davidperlstein.com. Order in soft cover or e-book at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com or iUniverse.com. Check out Green Apple Books and Books, Inc. in Laurel Village, too.And read my short-short story “White on White” in the Winter 2014 online edition of Summerset Review.

“TOY STORY REDUX” — A PREVENTABLE FABLE

Less than twenty-four hours after coordinated attacks left more than 750 Holiday shoppers dead and twice as many wounded, the White House conceded the likelihood of a terrorist operation.

President Obama also urged shopping malls throughout the nation to reopen tomorrow. “We can not, indeed we must not, allow terrorists to derail our Holiday shopping and thus set back our fragile economy.”

The President and top security officials conducted a videoconference with the mayors and chiefs of police of the cities in which the shootings occurred: Orlando, Memphis, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Tucson. The governors of Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Arizona attended.

A White House spokesman acknowledged that the attacks could not have been foreseen despite extensive security procedures. “Naturally, no one suspected anything was amiss. The shooter teams in each city made themselves practically invisible by walking into malls carrying AK-47 assault rifles with orange tips on their barrels.”

Federal law requires orange tips on the barrels of replica weapons to identify them as non-lethal collectors’ items.

Eyewitnesses in Dallas said that a young girl called out, “Mommy, those men have guns. I’m scared.” Her father then scolded her: “See those orange tips? Those nice men just want to have fun. Don’t you go trying to spoil someone’s Christmas.”

Members of Congress demanded that the F.B.I. bring the perpetrators to justice. They cited video cameras in all of the malls as playing a major role in the investigation. They acknowledged, however, that the shooters wore masks portraying Santa’s reindeer and elves when entering the malls.

The National Rifle Association challenged protests by groups supporting tougher gun laws. An NRA spokesman stated that sufficient federal laws already exist, and that the Second Amendment protects Americans’ rights to have toys and take them anywhere. “Let’s remember that Americans love guns. Who wouldn’t want a replica of an AK-47, not to mention the real thing?”

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Dem.-Cal.) hinted that Mrs. Pelosi might consider initiating legislation banning replicas if she can find adequate support among fellow Democrats. “Of course, serious discussions won’t be conducted until Congress comes back from its Holiday vacation. The Minority Leader also understands that this is a hot-button political issue that could endanger Democratic seats in the House.”

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (Rep.-Ohio) dismissed as “anti-American” the possibility of a vote banning replicas coming to the House floor.

In a related matter, investigations continue into the October 22 police shooting that killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, California. The boy carried an AK-47 replica known as an airsoft gun, which uses compressed air to propel plastic pellets. California law requires an orange tip on the barrel of replicas but not on airsoft guns.

Manufacturers of airsoft and related paintball guns declined comment on the Holiday shootings. They cited respect for the dead and wounded.

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Read the first three chapters of SAN CAFÉ and of SLICK!, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 25 Best Indie Novels of 2012, at davidperlstein.com. Order at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com or bn.com. 

THE “C” WORD

Words can offend. One starts with “C.” But we need to talk more about it because given the nature of the world we live in it’s more relevant than ever.

Compromise gets some people riled up. The word suggests a lack of integrity and morality. These folks believe they’re always right and opposing views are by definition flat-out wrong. No quarter ever can be given. A small step towards an opposing view only launches the righteous down a slippery slope.

The refusal to find a middle ground is nothing new. In the novel As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg, published in 1939, the Sanhedrin in Judea debates allowing the study of Greek culture. For some Jews, only Torah is legitimate. Others have drifted towards Greek philosophy, art and science leaving Torah behind. Still others strive for balance. Their faith need not crumble before Greek reason; other cultures offer something of value. When the zealots, who wish to obliterate Greek culture in Israel’s midst, rebel against Roman occupation, disaster follows. Unfortunately this is history not just literature.

Yes, the Sages teach that compromise is not always allowed. One may not commit murder or incest or bow down to idols even on pain of death. Beyond that, the real world requires acceptance of the “C” word. Those who bear direct responsibility for a nation’s wellbeing—presidents, prime ministers and even kings—often understand this. Those who sit on the sidelines—another “C” word, Congress, comes to mind—can promote ideological or selfish positions. The buck does not stop with them.

Jordan’s King Abdullah offers an insight worthy of attention. In an article by Jeffrey Goldberg in this April’s Atlantic, Abdullah notes that his efforts to establish a modern democracy face opposition from the royal family. “The further away you’re removed from this chair [the throne—DP], the more of a prince or a princess you are.”

Fortunately, several new attempts at compromise may pay great dividends.

In Jerusalem, women and men may finally get to pray together at the Kotel—the Western Wall. Natan Sharansky, Israel’s head of the Jewish Agency, presented a plan that may not give liberal Jews everything they seek in an Orthodox-controlled religious environment but nonetheless allows for major progress. The plaza in front of the Kotel would be divided into Orthodox and non-Orthodox areas. To each his—and her—own.

In Washington, Senators Joe Manchin III (D-West Virginia) and Patrick Toomey (R- Pennsylvania) have fashioned a compromise on gun control to include background checks at gun shows. The National Rifle Association, which adheres to the slippery slope theory, will try to kill the legislation in the Senate. But the spirit of compromise just might be too great. In the same vein, reasonable immigration legislation may well be fashioned in the coming weeks. It won’t be perfect, but it will help our immigration policy make more sense.

So let’s get a grip on all our “C” words. Because some should be part of any polite company’s conversation. Oops, here we go again.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.

MAKEOVER 101

Republicans are upset. Speaker of the House John Boehner proclaimed that President Obama is out to destroy the GOP. But the GOP’s wounds seem self-inflicted. As Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, recently declared, “We need to understand that we can’t come off as a bunch of angry white men.” All it takes is a little makeover.

As a former advertising guy, I believe that Republicans can deliver their core messages without making Americans wonder if the party is a few pinto beans short of a full burrito. Because it’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.

Abortion: Forget baby killers. This is an economic issue. The more children born in America, the more legal workers we’ll have to pay for entitlements.

Entitlements: American workers have a great opportunity to boost the economy rather than hobble it. All they need do is switch to privatized health care and retirement benefits. This will enable corporate CEOs and wizards of Wall Street—our job creators—to employ more nannies, cooks, chauffeurs and personal trainers, thus lowering unemployment.

Unemployment: Americans aren’t lazy. They’ve regrettably been disconnected from nature. The solution? Move people out of dangerous ghettos and barrios into the countryside for fresh air and healthful exercise picking America’s bounty of fruits and vegetables. This will force illegal aliens to flee and terminate our immigration problem.

Immigration: Folks who cross our borders without documentation are good people. Each is a potential ambassador who, upon being sent home—unless a proposed path to citizenship passes Congress—will spread the good word about American free enterprise. So much the better if they take their guns with them to display as tokens of our democracy and the rich culture it supports.

Gun control: Firearms (“guns” is a negative term) constitute more than a right. Firearms enable a citizen defense force (“militia” is a negative term) instantly ready to repel Al Qaeda or the Taliban—not to mention the Chinese and the United Nations. Let hostile forces attempt marine landings in Maine, Miami, Mobile or Malibu (San Francisco’s out—water’s way too cold). Or airborne assaults on Altoona, Atlanta, Abilene or Albuquerque. Americans will handle it. We have to. It takes minutes to scramble American fighter jets over Milwaukee and hours to move rapid-reaction ground forces to Austin. By then aggressors could be eating our double-bacon-double-cheeseburgers and chili fries for lunch.

Gay marriage: Every American is precious. But let’s not forget that the American family—Dad, Mom, Junior and Janie Sue—built this country. They also need our love and protection—which they didn’t get in Newtown, Connecticut because the local school board was too pansy-pink-liberal to put not just one but two armed cops in each school with a SWAT team on alert from dawn to dusk each school day. No, the people of Newtown cared more about visiting Planned Parenthood, maxing out their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, collecting welfare checks and coddling illegal aliens.

Whoa! Putting a happy face on the GOP might be a struggle after all. But still, it’s possible. Like calling cyanide coated in chocolate a gourmet candy—as long as we keep the Food and Drug Administration out of Americans’ business and let the marketplace decide.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

If a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, that first step often is the most difficult. So we go nowhere. Witness the fiscal cliff and gun violence. Why? We fear the unknown leading us down a slippery slope.

Fear of the slippery slope is ancient. Proverbs 2:12-15 warns against a series of actions actions culminating with following evil people. The Mishna (Pirke Avot 1:1) calls for building a fence around the Torah to prevent violations of the Law. For example, while Torah (Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, Deuteronomy 14:21) forbids boiling a kid in its mother’s milk, the Sages push the fence out by forbidding mixing any meat and dairy.

Recently, I mentioned to a friend means testing for Social Security. He dismissed discussing the idea. Tax the full Social Security benefit (85 percent now is taxable) instead, he said. What did he fear? Even mentioning reductions for upper-income retirees would cause fear of the slippery slope. Americans en masse would assume that everyone’s benefits eventually would be reduced.

That’s no way to create policy. Sure, you have to do the math to determine whether fully taxable benefits might sufficiently ease future pressure on Social Security versus cuts at the upper end. But let’s be honest. If benefits for recipients with incomes (tax-free included) of, say, $125,000 were lowered by 10 percent with a 15 percent cut for people with incomes of $200,000 and above, those folks’ lifestyles wouldn’t suffer. Meanwhile, people who must survive on Social Security would retain their full benefits and could count on them in the future.

Discussions about gun violence produce the same illogic. Ban AR-15 military-style weapons, according to the National Rifle Association, and Washington will ban all guns. Thus Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, stated this morning that armed guards should be posted in all schools. Which leaves assault rifles unaddressed until attempts are made at mass murder. So let’s get serious. Many people hunt. Their weapons should not be confiscated. Others want to protect their homes. Fine—if they’re properly licensed and thoroughly trained. And they understand the risks Nicholas Kristoff pointed out in yesterday’s New York Times.

But whatever your opinion, it’s nonsense to withhold rational discussion so we can separate fact from fiction and find a gun policy that makes more sense—even if it’s not perfect—than the one we have now.

The problem is that many people equate putting everything on the table with accepting everything on the table. So they refuse to talk at all. If you’ve ever been involved with a group trying to solve a problem, you know that the first rule is to consider all suggestions. Censorship, other- or self-directed, greatly limits finding good solutions.

What now? We’ll likely find ourselves suffering from paralysis yet again. And that’s what demagogues love. They stir up fears of the slippery slope to obstruct—and chase political payoffs at the nation’s expense. When Proverbs 2:15 warns against “Men whose paths are crooked / And who are devious in their course,” we should take notice. Because what’s really scary isn’t the slippery slope. It’s slippery people.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.

DO GUNS KILL PEOPLE?

Kids play at war. I did. When I was ten, friends and I made wooden rifles for mock combat. We took apart fruit and vegetable crates, did some sawing and hammered a few nails. But we knew the difference between make believe and reality. If only that were true of the National Rifle Association.

I have no brief against guns, either for hunting or self-defense. As long as weapons are licensed. And as long as they’re appropriate. Which rules out assault-type weapons good only for causing mayhem. Like the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and .40-caliber Glock handgun a man allegedly used to kill 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater a week ago.

Not that the NRA agrees. They keep reciting the same old mantra: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” As if Americans armed to the teeth don’t drive up the murder rate and body count.

Yes, even with stricter gun control, murders would occur. And yes, you can kill people with legal hunting rifles, shotguns and basic handguns. But the more lethal the weapon—and the more such weapons are made available—the greater the killing. One thing I learned in the army—the closer you get to your enemy, the greater the risk he may kill you. Bayonets? Knives? Bare hands? You take your chances. But give someone an AR-15 at ten meters (33 feet) and he can tear apart another human being—many human beings—without getting his hands dirty.

Many murderers use guns—and assault-type weapons—precisely because they make killing so easy. You stand apart—or drive by—and simply pull the trigger. Your target can outrun a knife in the hand but not a bullet. The more rounds you carry, and the more rounds your weapon can spit out, the more deadly and out of control you can be.

After the Aurora savagery, a friend posted a question on Facebook: “When is the President, Congress and the Supreme Court ever going to stand up to the National Rifle Association?” The answer is, “never.” The NRA accentuates its far-right paranoia with tons of cash targeting politicians who want to change our gun laws. Not abolish guns. Just rid us of assault-type weapons that have no place in our homes and on our streets.

While the President and many in Congress may be sympathetic to strengthening our gun laws, their overriding concerns are election and re-election. This presents Americans with a real conundrum. Politicians tell us they want to make the nation safer. But they can’t help us if NRA money boots them out of office. So they kick the can down the road and don’t help us at all.

You want courage? Watch John Wayne battle the Japanese in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). Of course, his real name was Marion Morrison, and he never served in the military during World War Two. But John Wayne remains America’s symbol of courage. And he may as well until more politicians exhibit some spine and do battle against the perversion of freedom represented by NRA rhetoric.

Although the NRA has it half right. Guns don’t kill people. People abetted by the NRA’s undue political influence kill people.

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at davidperlstein.com. Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at dhperl@yahoo.com. SLICK! also is now available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.