Gun Nuts

February 28, 2011

Apparently some of my new television spots have touched a raw nerve with some people who advocate “unrestricted right to bear arms”. I say “people”, but a more common phrase is “gun nut” – a term that reflects the infirmity of their position.

Closely examine their argument that the US Constitution guarantees the unrestricted right to bear arms. Taken to its logical conclusion, the gun nuts advocate that every citizen has the right to bear any arms, anywhere. The NRA would have citizens showing up at airports toting Stinger missiles, drive-ins with Abrams tanks, and, of course, no home would be safe without your own tactical nuclear warhead! In addition to nuclear arms, one would also have the right to own biological and chemical weapons as well, since they are also armaments used for “self-defense”. Unrestricted right to bear any arms anywhere? Really?

When confronted with the absurdity of their argument, some of the gun nuts will admit that it is ridiculous to allow individuals to own tactical nuclear weapons, because that was not the “intent” of the Founding Fathers and they could not have foreseen weapons of mass destruction. This is a historical distortion (the Founding Fathers simply wanted people on the frontiers to be able to defend themselves), but let’s follow the argument to its logical conclusion. Well, if it is a matter of what the Founding Fathers intended and could not foresee, then the right to bear arms should only include swords, muskets and cannons, not semi-automatic or automatic assault weapons.

The argument for the right to bear automatic weapons is absurd. Even the NRA would find it difficult to advocate for unrestricted sales of nuclear weapons (or maybe not). Either the right is unrestricted or it can (and should) be restricted.  Some reasonable restrictions on gun sales and possession are not only Constitutional but they are also rational.

Socialism for the Capitalist, and Capitalism for the Rest of Us.

February 16, 2011

Family budgets reflect what our priorities are, what we value as a society, and what we hope for in the future.  Some families can barely afford the necessities, but they still sacrifice to save for their children’s education. I remember my parents trying to strike a careful balance between what we needed as a family and what we wanted. For example, vacations were something considered only after the necessities and savings for future needs were met. We’ve all been there, which is what makes the Federal Budget process so, well … disappointing.

As a Nation, we are lending money interest free to the richest and taking heating fuel, shelter and food away from the poorest. Instead of fixing some very bad plumbing known as the Defense budget, we are continuing to budget money for increased water bills. And then there’s that expensive little vacation in exotic Afghanistan…

Dr. Martin Luther King, perhaps the greatest moral character in American politics, put it best when he said “A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” 1

When we spend more money on giving millionaires tax breaks or on interest free loans to Wall Street Banks than we do on educating our children, or making sure that the most vulnerable people in our society have basic necessities such as food and shelter, then we have become a spiritually sick society.

1          Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.