Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Brian Howey: "Soul searching in Indiana and America in a post-Newtown era."

"I will not carry a gun, Frank. When I got thrown into this war I had a clear understanding with the Pentagon: no guns. I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, I'll even 'hari kari' if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!"
--Hawkeye Pierce

I grew up around guns, and as an adult, I'd prefer guns not be around me.

To, me, firearms are roughly akin to cars, sports and Viagra as penile enhancement devices, and I already have a penis, thanks. Pieces of machinery generally are value-neutral, their performance dependent on the guiding mind of humans. Conversely, human minds infected with machismo, conspiracy theories, hatred, kitchen table formica and just plain variable mental health issues offer as much cause to be frightened as the typical armed robber, who after all, just wants money.

But: I'm no prohibitionist. My own professional world of alcoholic beverages symbolizes "legal but heavily regulated," and that strikes me as utterly appropriate. You need a gun to cope, and I need a bottle. More alcoholic beverages to redress alcoholism? I'll get right on it. Whatever gets you through your life, it's all right.

Apart from all that, I've little to say that isn't already being said. From a rotten national cultural perspective, Frank Rich hits the center of the target in terms of what is significant. In reddened Indiana, Brian Howey does the same. Here's an excerpt.

Soul searching in Indiana and America in a post-Newtown era, by Brian Howey (Howey Politics Indiana)

NASHVILLE, Ind. – A couple times a year, I invite friends to come down to my cabin here for some target practice in the valley below. We shoot into the base of a ridge.

Most of the guns brought were shotguns, .22s and pistols. But one friend brought a Chinese assault rifle with a clip and at one point, squeezed off a succession of 30 shots. After about the 10th shot, I found the sequence unnerving. The fire power was – choose a word here: awesome, spectacular, overwhelming, catastrophic . . .

My Friday morning last week seemed normal until I caught an initial, brief CNN report of a school shooting in Connecticut. Returning to the cabin about an hour later, the scope of the horror was only beginning to emerge. By Sunday, we would learn that the shooter, Adam Lanza, had used a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle to gun down 20 children ages 6 and 7, along with the school principal, five teachers and his own mother. The kids suffered three to 11 gunshots each.

So this is the first set of thoughts I've deeply pondered, taking personal experience with the utter tragedy in Sandy Hook. The assault rifle is a military weapon, designed for battlefields. It really has no civilian application. I don't know any deer or turkey hunters who would take to the field with one. You don't need firepower of that magnitude to protect your home or property. On that front, an Elkhart police chief once told me that a pump action shotgun would be best for protecting home and self. "Anyone who hears you pump that will think twice about proceeding," he said.

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