Moms, dads, grandparents … grab your guns and take aim at the NRA
Tens of millions of gun owners are smart, common sense people with kids and grandkids – well-informed, intelligent, law abiding citizens who see the folly of the endless gun debate swirling in the deep psychosis of the American gun culture. Many of these good people are members of the NRA and they understand that just as you can’t negotiate with terrorists, you can’t debate with the hardcore elements of the NRA and the economic juggernaut of gun sales.
What can good gun owners do about bad gun owners?
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre coined a catchy (stupid) phrase recently when he said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” Ergo, have Wyatt Earp deputize everybody. Recently, the NRA came out with one of the dumbest TV ads one could imagine (see 30-second ad below). Do you think they might have a messaging, marketing and branding problem, not to mention a socially myopic view of reality?
Fight fire with fire
The way to stop bad gun owners is with good gun owners. There are many more responsible gun owners than irresponsible ones and the vast majority has little interest in assault weapons. It’s only the criminals and the irresponsible, immature, Rambo-wannabes that want these killing “toys.” Every sensible, gun owning parent and grandparent knows that the “guns of war” needed to protect our nation should not be the same “sports guns” needed to protect Second Amendment rights and shoot up the local quarry or deer herds, just for fun. Good gun owners know that we have to control the use of the weapons of war and that allowing these killing machines to loosely and freely move through our society is no different than leaving matches, drugs and guns around the house for kids to play with. For too many adult gun owners, assault weapons are just a form of “playing” video games for real.
It’s a no-brainer; it’s in our brain
The “right to keep and bear” assault weapons is simply an irrational rationalization by those who have a deep human need to find, feel and express their egoic insecurity. It also fits the business rationale for making money. It’s completely irrational. Because these weapons are not needed for protection, they are not needed to kill animals and they are not needed around the house. They belong on military bases, in police stations and at secure gun clubs and target ranges. If someone needs one at home, it’s for very different reasons: either criminal intent or psychotic self-fulfillment – that’s not referring to the mentally ill rather to those seemingly “normal” individuals whose amygdala (animal part of the brain) has not yet fully developed. The amygdala has been triggering humans’ “fight or flight” response since our days on the savannah and it still controls much of our emotional behavior. Humans have an inherent need to overcome fear and insecurity and as we mature, we supposedly increase our emotional control and try to build a grown up sense-of-self – for men it’s their “manhood,” for women it’s their “independence.”
Across evolution, one way of off-setting emotional insecurity has been to bear weapons – stones, spears, arrows, swords, muskets, machine guns, bazookas, assault weapons. A gun provides a natural chemical reaction and equalizing feeling in the brain (see study reference below). Just ask a teenager in the inner city. He’s a big man when he’s “packin’.” And the bigger the gun, the bigger the emotional strength. In the ghetto it can be a matter of survival but in the “burbs” most people find other ways of achieving the same emotional reinforcement. Of course, some have a handgun or long-gun in the house and there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s handled safely and responsibly. But most men don’t turn to a gun to trigger their sense of manhood rather they look to the size of their SUV, Rottweiler, BBQ or sexual prowess. And for women it can be the title on their business card, the label on their clothes or their time at the gym. Whatever supplies this chemical addiction, it is a needed companion on our evolutionary journey.
Fredrick Nietzsche, the 19th century philosopher, spoke of the “will to power” and how it was an innate characteristic in every human being (today we call it DNA) and he posited that it drives us to continually establish and reinforce our “power” over others. Today, we know this as fact, and thanks to advances in neurology and psychology we are increasingly understanding how the human brain controls so much of what we want, need and do.
Studies using brain scans have shown that when people hold a gun or see a picture of a gun, the brain fires up an aggressive chemical response. We get “pumped.” In turn, this stimulates more aggressive feelings as the brain associates, from memory, guns with danger. These aggressive emotions then make a person less rational as perception narrows and what we see and hear is distorted. So when someone is carrying a gun their decision-making gets irrational and they lose touch with immediate reality. They do not emotionally, psychologically or intellectually function normally.
Unfortunately, we have not yet tried to “treat” what a gun does to our brain and there’s little chance that we will ever mitigate the human “will to power” so on the long arc of evolution we are stuck in the limited myopia of human intelligence. In short, the human “need” for guns is not about to dissipate any time soon – especially in an American gun culture that has twenty times more murders a year than any other civilized nation.
Divide and conquer
Here are three considerations worth discussing: 1) Separate the good and bad gun owners into two associations; 2) Keep all the guns including assault weapons; and 3) Treat the “normal” human condition for what it is – a chemical addiction in the brain.
- Have the tens-of-millions of good gun owners separate themselves from the minority fringe gun owners who want assault weapons. Form a different association and compete with the NRA, the gun lobby and the gun manufacturers who perpetuate the selling of assault weapons to the public. The “goods” could be for responsible, common sense gun ownership and take aim at having no assault weapons owned by individuals. The NRA has a membership of almost five million people paying $25 each, so why not create a new association – “Responsible Gun Ownership Association” (RGOA) – which could easily get ten million responsible owners, parents and grandparents to sign up for $25. And every corporation that sells anything to parents, grandparents and kids would jump at the chance to provide funding and lobbying support.
- Keep all the guns but place assault weapons and their attendant ammunition clips that are for public use in secure gun clubs, shooting ranges and “Rent-A-Gun” businesses. If you want to own an assault weapon and fire thirty rounds a second, have at it – in a safe and secure environment. If you don’t want to own one but would like to shoot one for fun, have at it – under supervised, safe, controlled conditions. Professionals can even take you out in the desert or the savannah and let you fire away. This way every rational, common sense person can get their ego rush and emotional needs fulfilled without having to have assault weapons in the homes, streets and Wal-Marts. It would be a lot safer than today’s virtual OK Corral.
- Treat the human addiction to guns as the killer it is – it’s as real as smoking, alcohol and drugs – by providing a controlled “fix.” Just put assault weapons in a controlled place and only hand them out under safe conditions. That’s not taking anyone’s rights away; it’s treating their affliction (they can keep hand guns and long guns if properly registered). Today, society has advanced to the point of providing marijuana under controlled conditions and we have never let children handle dangerous substances so why should guns be any different? Amend the Second Amendment: “You have the right to keep and bear arms in a safe, secure, responsible way and the use of assault weapons by the public must be professionally controlled and supervised.” (Or something like this).
Thomas Jefferson would agree with an appropriate amendment. After all, he did say that a constitutional convention should be held every few generations because things would change over time and all good men (he left out women) would recognize the need to enact amendments. Since then, the US Constitution has been amended the twenty-seven times and yet, the out dated, loosely interpreted Second Amendment sits like a cancerous tumor on the brain of American.
Perhaps the gun debacle is a natural reflection of where we are at on the course of human evolution?