Politics & prejudices: God, do we love our guns

Imagine this scenario: A crazed right-wing nut bursts into a swank private day care center or elementary school in Washington, D.C. that caters to the children and grandchildren of powerful and well-heeled (mostly Republican) congressmen and senators.

He proceeds to massacre the little ones, exploding their heads with cop-killer bullets, killing dozens. He happily shreds the brains of the babies of the powerful till he hears the first police sirens. Then, he puts a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger.

Later it turns out he was angry that Carly Rae Jepsen, who he has never met, wouldn't marry him or even reply to his letters, and he exploded with rage when he learned she was a gay rights activist.

Before the police burst in, a surviving teacher films the entire gory scene — eyes blasted from sockets, brains dripping from walls — with her cell phone, and posts it to YouTube, something that should have happened after the Sandy Hook baby massacre in 2012.

Then, and only then, might our elected pet rats of the National Rifle Association do something about our crazy and universal tolerance of death machines in this country. Do I want to see such a thing happen?

God no. I hope it never does. In fact, I'm not sure that our craven, contemptible congressmen would have the courage to defy the NRA's Wayne LaPierre even if their own children were murdered.

But that's the only way I can imagine us ever doing anything about this national sickness that is killing 10,000 Americans a year, more than in the worst years of the Vietnam War.

Let's be honest: We love our guns more than our children, period. The rest of the so-called civilized world thinks we are nuts, because we are. When it comes to the percentage of our citizens blown away by guns every year, we are about on a par with the misnamed Democratic Republic of the Congo and a little worse than Pakistan.

Naturally, one of the hysterical, gun-obsessed shriekers who will soon be attacking me for this article is bound to point out that a security guard saved a woman's life at the General Motors Tech Center last month, pulling a gun after her presumably deranged daughter began stabbing her.

Yes, he did indeed. However, for every story like that, a thousand people die needlessly; babies who find their parents' handguns, drunken spouses who are fighting, idiots who fly into a rage over nothing.

For every case like the security guard in Warren, there are a hundred like Theodore Wafer, the would-be cowboy who was asleep in his Dearborn Heights home one night in November 2013 when a stoned and drunk black teenage girl pounded on his door.

What a decent, or at least gunless, person would have done was call the police, who would have trundled her off to the drunk tank at the local jail. But being a real man, Teddy fired his shotgun through the screen door, blowing her away. Wafer is deservedly in prison now until at least 2031, costing us taxpayers at least $35,000 a year.

We have now become so used to mass murders committed by crazy people with guns that we barely notice unless a member of our family gets killed, much as medieval society accepted the death of half their babies from massive infections. These days, our reactions are ritualistic, stylized, and guided by the belief that there's nothing we can do.

Take the drearily familiar Uber driver who shot and killed a bunch of people in Kalamazoo on Saturday night, Feb. 20. As I write this a few days later, I have no idea why he did it, and couldn't care less.

What followed went strictly by the script. Everybody professed their phony horror and shock. Newspapers, those that remain, dispatched reporters to interview his neighbors and the families of the victims.

Timelines of the shootings were constructed. Gov. Rick Snyder, master of the ineffectual statement, took time from the Flint mess to issue this very deep, penetrating, and insightful comment:

"The shootings are a senseless act of violence that claimed the lives of innocent citizens. Our hearts are broken for the victims' families and friends, and I join in mourning their loss."

Standard political boilerplate bullshit, without even a pretense of being willing to try to do something about it. This time, that's something that really isn't on his agenda.

Whoops — that's not quite true. He did do something: "We will lower the flags for six days to honor each of the six who died," the governor added. I'm sure that will soothe their families. (By the way, you might wonder — what about another nine days for the nine folks who died of Legionnaires' disease in Flint after Snyder's appointees started poisoning people by switching to Flint River water?)

I promise to ask the governor that the next time he calls me. Meanwhile, of course, nobody is proposing doing anything meaningful that might stop some of the carnage, like more serious background checks before Junior and Jeeter buy their personal weapons of mass destruction.

What about limiting where they are carried? Cracking down on open carry and concealed carry laws that are nothing more than invitations to murder, accident and death? Perish the thought, even if a few hundred children die as a result.

Nope. Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who had to retire after catching a bullet in the head, said it best: "This is what the new normal looks like." Trying to change things would, after all, risk any politician who tried having contributions from the gun lobby cut off. Better to ignore the problem.

Pretend it is an unavoidable consequence of our sainted and mythical Second Amendment rights.

Besides, by next week everyone except the family members will have forgotten about all this. Until the next time, which ought to be any day now. Lock and load, my fellow deranged patriots.

Putting it in perspective

Everyone agreed after Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses, 52 percent to 47 percent, that this tremendous victory had turned the tide, stopped Bernie Sanders' momentum and put her squarely back on the path to speedily sew up the Democratic presidential nomination.

What nobody mentioned that night on TV was how many votes were cast there in her historic victory, or how many she won by. Millions? Thousands?

Well, no. According to unofficial final returns, she won by the mighty margin of ... 638 votes. Only about 12,000 people participated in the whole state, a number that wouldn't even fill one-third of Comerica Park.

Of those, after spending vast sums on her Nevada campaign, Clinton got 6,316 votes; Sanders 5,678. That's fewer votes than were cast for mayor of Southfield last year, in an off-year election when turnout wasn't so hot.

Yet this may have been the key contest in this campaign.

If that turns out to be the case, I can only say ... what a country.

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