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America’s Gun Culture in Light of the Recent Insurrection

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Years ago, I wrote a post about firearms and the importance of gun control laws. Boy, did I step in it, attracting all sorts of gun nuts and worshipers of the Second Amendment. I took the position then that we must do something about the dangerous, irrational, violent gun culture in America. Numerous mass shootings, school massacres, murders, and insurrections later, I still believe that the people of the United States MUST come to terms with the gun monster we have created by allowing the NRA and other pro-gun groups to impede meaningful, exhaustive firearm regulation. After recent armed insurrections at the U.S. Capitol and numerous state capitals, it’s evident that we must drastically change our firearm laws.

But, Bruce, the Second Amendment says . . .

Ah yes, the God of the American right. What, exactly, does the Second Amendment say?

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.

A well regulated militia, end of discussion. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with personal firearm ownership as it is currently practiced in the United States. At best, our well regulated militias are state National Guard units, and not Billy Bob and Joe Bob getting together with their white supremacist buddies and calling themselves a militia.

It is the duty of the law enforcement and the National Guard to protect the security of our free state, not people who have bought an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle or a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol at Dick’s Sporting Goods or their local gun store.

I grew up in a home surrounded by firearms. My dad was an avid gun collector. In the 1960s and 1970s, Dad had tables at local gun shows, buying and selling firearms and ammunition. After we moved to Arizona in the 70s, Dad opened a gun store in Sierra Vista. I worked many hours at the store, and had at my disposal everything from single-shot .22k Hornet rifles to .458 Winchester Magnum rifles. When I wanted to go hunting or do some target shooting, I either used my own guns or I borrowed one from the store.

In the 1960s, Dad got a visit from the ATF, alleging that he had violated the 1968 Gun Control Act with some of his firearm sales at a Lima, Ohio gun show. While he was not arrested, ATF agents told him that if he didn’t stop his illicit trade, they would charge him with federal crimes. Did Dad stop illegally peddling guns? I can’t know for sure, but I doubt it.

As an eleven-year-old boy, I vividly remember Dad sitting at the dining room table modifying an M1 Carbine so it would be fully automatic. After the modification, Dad and I went outside and lined up a bunch of tin cans on the fence. Dad then mowed the cans down with his now fully automatic M1. I have no idea what happened to this gun, or if Dad modified other M1s for interested buyers.

That’s my background, lest anyone suggest that I don’t know anything about firearms. I owned firearms well into the 1990s. I then sold my rifles, shotguns, and handguns. By that time, I had stopped hunting, and I lost interest in target shooting and owning guns in general. I do wish I hadn’t sold my bolt action Mossburg .410 shotgun with a modified choke. It was my first firearm purchase at the Lima gun show mentioned above. I was eleven and paid $21 for the shotgun.

What must we as a people do to put an end to the Second Amendment cult? What must we do to put an end to gun violence? What must we do to strip insurrectionists of their weapons of mass destruction? What follows are suggestions for radically changing America’s gun culture.

First, all firearms and ancillary equipment must be registered and entered into a national database that is accessible to law enforcement. Purchase requirements must be strengthened and waiting periods lengthened. These things must be changed at the federal level. State governments have shown that they are unwilling to do what’s necessary to protect the American people from gun violence. Here in Ohio, super-majorities of Republicans in the state legislature have turned the Buckeye State into the Wild, Wild West. Anything goes when it comes to firearms.

Second, certain firearms must be strictly regulated and, if need be, confiscated. Assault-style firearms must be banned, along with high-capacity magazines. Owners of such things should be given an opportunity to turn them in and receive fair market value for their weapons. If they refuse to turn in the guns, laws should be crafted that would seriously punish them if they are caught with the weapons in public.

Third, all state concealed carry laws should be repealed. No one should be permitted to carry a firearm in public. Allowance should be made for hunting and target shooting, but firearms used for such purposes must be secured separate from ammunition until they are readied for use.

Fourth, all private sales or transfers of weapons must be reported to local law enforcement, who then must update the federal database with the new information. Illegal firearm sales must be severely punished.

Fifth, every gun and ammunition sale should be taxed. Want to reduce the number of firearms in America? Tax sales at such a level that purchasers will think twice about buying more guns or boxes of ammunition.

Sixth, sales of things such as bulletproof vests, armor-piercing bullets, flash grenades, and arrest zip ties should be limited to law enforcement. Ammunition purchases should be limited. No one needs to own thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Seventh, all firearm owners must take comprehensive firearm training. This training must be repeated every five years. All firearms are required to be secured with a trigger lock or locked in a gun safe/box.

Eighth, Hollywood and game companies must be held accountable for their love affair with violence and firearms. This is one of those “think of the children” moments. Children with immature minds gain warped views of firearms, life, violence, and death when watching programming or playing video games that glorify these things.

Ninth, the Dickey Amendment must be repealed. For 25 years the CDC has shied away from conducting research on gun violence. That’s because in 1996 Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, a law that mandated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” This silencing of research on gun violence serves to hide the true nature and extent of gun-related injuries and deaths.

The goal, long term, should be to adopt the Australian or British model of gun control. One thing I know for certain: we cannot continue on the path we are on. It’s only a matter of time before another mass shooting, school massacre, or, the gods forbid, an armed, bloody insurrection against the legally constituted government of the United States. These insurrectionists are not patriots. Their purpose is to overthrow federal and state governments, establishing a white theocracy. That the people who stormed the Capitol were determined to have no king but Donald Jesus Trump should scare the shit out of rational Americans. If the insurrectionists had turned right instead of left, we likely would have seen the execution of numerous senators and representatives. This mob was even calling for the head of Christian nationalist Vice President Michael Pence.

I have no doubt that armed insurrections lie ahead for Washington DC and many state capitals. We are possibly facing days like we have not seen since the Civil War. The difference is the insurrectionists are heavily armed and are able to inflict mass casualties. When mass delusion controls millions and millions of Americans, there’s no hope of reasoning with such people. Most of them are beyond facts. They have bought into lies that have so enraged them that they are willing to murder people in the name of “truth.” The short-term answer, then, is for insurrectionists to be met with and repelled by law enforcement and the national guard. Long term, the beast must be neutered and disarmed. The things I mentioned above would help in doing just that.

Let me be clear, I have no interest in debating members of the Second Amendment cult, NRA members, or people who think firearm ownership is an absolute right (no rights are absolute). For this post, I will invoke the one comment rule for members of the cult. Say your piece, and move on. I am more interested in hearing from people who are tired and fearful of the American gun culture; who are sick of all the threats of violence and murders; who fear that our democracy is in trouble and we must do everything in our power to turn back seditious insurrectionists out to destroy the United States as we know it.

The comment section is yours.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

19 Comments

  1. Avatar
    dale m

    “if the insurrectionists had turned right rather than left …” Just think about that comment for a second. If they had done that, the entire state would have come down on top of them. Trump would have been arrested. Many insurrectionists would have been killed, arrested and tried for treason. But it didn’t happen. It would have made it far, far easier for Democrats to gain the choke hold on the entire lot. Then they would have been hunted to the ground, with perhaps even their families paying the price as well. It happened in Canada and Trudeau brought in Martial Law. The media were flabbergasted. When asked
    “You don’t really mean that !?!”, the 3 worded response was famous … “Just watch me!” Tanks were in the cities the next day. And you know what? The Conservatives threw their lot in with the Liberals. Canada is now safer and more secure. To the people of America I say this … “What happened? Did your balls drop off?”

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    The entertaining part of the gun culture is, 2nd amendment supporters think liberals, Dems or any leftists don’t have guns. If they think that they could end up being unpleasantly surprised.

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Bruce said: “…I have no doubt that armed insurrections lie ahead for Washington DC and many state capitals. We are possibly facing days like we have not seen since the Civil War…”

    I am afraid this is an accurate view of the future. A second impeachment will not stop what is to come now. Biden/Harris must act decisively to bring Law to bear on the people who adore Trump-Jesus. The Republican Senate is a lap-dog and continues to slobber Trump worship. Ted Cruz is trying to move himself into position to seek the presidency. Unless all of these sycophants are tethered, we are in for murderous times. C’mon social media! Tell us the names of all who stormed the Capitol.

    By the way, Bruce, Michael Moore expressed pretty much what you are saying regarding armed incursions before the 20th. He did it on his podcast on Saturday eve, I think, begging people to call their representatives and speak up to prevent further death. And Trump’s comments today are thinly veiled threats of more damage on the way.

  4. Avatar
    Troy

    When people think of militias they might think there isn’t a great modern example. But there is, you must only look to neutral Switzerland. It has a militia style military, where most people keep their own equipment and everyone must serve in the army. This harkens back to the colonial “minute men”. While almost quaint, the second amendment (rarely included) context of a militia strongly implies that the person using it will be fully trained. I can’t imagine the second amendment was written as some unmitigated right that means you can get a machine gun the minute your hands can reach the sales counter with zero training, just here ya go!
    The NRA isn’t really about gun rights, it’s a trade cartel that is more about manufacturers selling them without a lot of regulation. Guns are cool and if people want them they should be able to get them, but there has to be accountability and training as well.

  5. Avatar
    GeoffT

    I absolutely abhor the insane gun laxity in the US that has bastardised the very word ‘right’. Those who drafted the Second Amendment would be appalled at the way it’s been subverted the way it has, but trying to have a coherent discussion with gun nuts on the subject is impossible, as the article states.

    I do have a ‘but’. Always be fearful of this word! The Second Amendment is dreadfully badly worded, like many old documents, especially when they are still intended to have binding effect. I don’t agree that the wording indicates that the right to bear arms is limited to militia. I see two distinct phrases. The first phrase says that militias will be required, for the various reasons that militias are needed for organised defence. The second phrase appears to be saying that, notwithstanding the need for militias, that people may still arm themselves. Of course, at the time the most lethal weapon was probably a single shot blunderbuss, and there was never an intention to allow unfettered ownership of AK47…but that’s another discussion.

  6. Avatar
    Emersonian

    I have said this MANY a time. “F*ck around and find out,” as the current saying goes. I have no desire to ever shoot a human being (or, frankly, an animal.) But that doesn’t mean we liberals don’t own guns and know how to use them…

  7. Avatar
    Emersonian

    Why should I as a civilian be able to buy AP rounds, assault weapons, bump stocks, etc.? What earthly purpose might I have for such things other than criminal intentions? My friends who are into gun culture say it’s fun to use this stuff recreationally, and of course they’re not wrong, it IS fun. However, it’d also be fun to blow stuff up in the back 40, but I’m not allowed to buy TNT, or C4, or grenades without a specialized permit. Black powder weapons are super cool too, but that’s not unregulated (at least in my state.) Reasonable regulation would benefit everyone… but just try telling some of these folks that.

  8. Avatar
    Michael Inglis

    I would like to see British or Australian style gun laws implemented in the USA. Unfortunately, the NRA and other lobby groups will not go down without a fight.

    Here in New Zealand, we have similar gun laws to Britain and Australia. You need a good reason to own shotguns or rifles – hunting, target shooting or collecting old guns. Self-defence is not considered to be such a reason. Handguns are only permitted to pistol club members, and semi-automatic guns were banned shortly after the Christchurch mosque massacre.

    As a result, police here do not carry sidearms (though I believe they have guns locked in the trunks of their police cars), and only 33 officers have been killed in the line of duty in the entire 180-year history of the NZ police force. It was a new experience for me going to Malaysia and seeing not only armed cops, but also some armed security guards.

  9. Avatar
    Astreja

    It’s not an enormously long learning curve to get to basic firearms proficiency. I once held a Canadian FAC (firearms acquisition certificate) — While writing a novel back in the 1990s I realized how little I knew about guns, and took some instruction at a local firing range. I couldn’t justify buying a pistol to keep in the house (not even a .22 target pistol), and let the FAC lapse. If I had to do it, though, it would probably take me one or two sessions at a range to get back to my previous skill level.

  10. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Bruce, you nailed it. These guys who call themselves “militias” are gun clubs with agendas, and calling them militias is an insult to every National Guard soldier (my youngest sister just retired from the National Guard).

    I recommend the book Dying of Whiteness by Jonathan Metzl regarding gun culture and healthcare in certain red states. He has tried to work around the Dickey Amendment in his research of mortality by firearm.

  11. Avatar
    Geoffrey Downs

    Bruce it appears that you are quite fascist in your views. Those who don’t see things as you need to be silenced and regulated. It also appears that you are just an extremist. Before your deconversion you were an Evangelical extremist. Now you are an Anti Christian left wing political extremist.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Ahh, you hurt my feelings.

      You said, “Before your deconversion you were an Evangelical extremist.” You might want to read my story before making rash, uninformed judgments.

      I make no apology for my political beliefs. I support using the political process to advance a liberal/progressive worldview. Evidently, only Christians are allowed to do so? By all means, Geoffrey, I will meet you in the arena of the public square. Let’s do battle, but please leave your guns at home. May the best ideas win.

  12. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    I read that the NRA with some 5 million members (if the news article cites accurately) is declaring bankruptcy and looking to incorporate in Texas now instead of New York. I am sure they are far more welcome in Texas. They want to try to avoid fraud charges brought against them by ditching and retreating in strength and apparently as monetarily healthy as they have ever been, according to the npr article I viewed. Let’s hope they are forced to own their actions and not continue to hide behind their claim to be protecting rights given by the Constitution. Mr. Downs (above comment) is what I would refer to as a typical gun lobbyist for Jesus. Anybody who has the gall to suggest that America is in serious doo-doo regarding guns is broadly attacked as if they were suggesting criminal activity by advocating for better controls. Evangelicals do precisely the same thing among themselves when taken to task for their proselytizing and their wish to force Jesus down our throats. How can we be so ignorant as to reject white Jesus, honorary member of the NRA… Buy a gun today and join your local evangelical movement! Last week’s destruction in Washington is yet another example of evangelical Christianity as a vice and a virus, used by those who cannot build the world but rather hate it and want to tear it down.
    Christian, explain yourself!

  13. Avatar
    Davie from Glasgow

    The country I live in is very far from perfect and I’m not claiming we have it all worked out. But it’s notable that we had a serious school shooting in the 1990s, after which we brought in extremely tight gun controls. There have been zero school shootings in this country since. And while there are obviously still drugs and gangs and fights – people very very rarely get shot. They do get stabbed – but at least a lot more of them survive to have the opportunity of turning things around than might otherwise have been the case.

  14. Avatar
    Grammar Gramma

    Geoffrey, It’s clear you don’t have any idea what a fascist is, or what fascist views are. Bruce is about as far from a fascist as a person can get. At least acquaint yourself with the meaning of words before you throw them around willy-nilly.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser