300 million. Guns or people?

A little less than 5 years ago I posted the below about Newtown. Since then, we’ve found out there are way more guns than 300 million

We have become a nation of gun massacres. We’ve blamed it on crazy people, on terrorists, but somehow the elephant in the closet keeps from being addressed: GUNS, GUNS, GUNS. Now we have a new shooting. Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Gun owners say they need guns to protect themselves. How many of those at that country western concert at Mandalay Bey were gun owners. Didn’t help them a bit.

The shooter they keep trying to make into a crazed monster, but they can’t quite make it stick with this guy. He was touted as a nice guy, even wired $100,000 dollars to the Philippines to pay for a new house for his girlfriend’s family. Why would he do that, then kill all country western music fans at Mandalay Bay? Did he secretly hate the NRA and hope that killing some of it’s staunchest supporters would get some action? Wow! How stupid would that be. Or would it? We may never know. But we do know he had guns, and lots of them.

What is the common thread in all of these mass shootings? NOT CRAZY PEOPLE, NOT TERRORISTS, BUT GUNS, GUNS, GUNS.

5 Years ago at Newtown.

Yesterday, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut struck me and many other parents hard. My wife wept. President Obama shed tears at a news conference. Gun control advocates across the world harangued. What did the NRA do? Hid in a closet. No comment. Don’t call us to your gun control debate the morning after, Chris Hayes, because we want things to settle out before we say anything.

What do you think gun owners did? The same thing they did when Obama was elected president, when there was a mass shooting in Aurora, when Gabby Giffords was shot, the same thing they did and will do after every bad thing that happens related to guns: They go out and buy another gun, or two, or five, especially something that might be outlawed soon, like an assault rifle.

So the question I keep asking myself is what can we do now, right now, to keep another Newtown from happening in two days, or two weeks, in my town, to my daughter or my son the teachers, to my grandson with his whole life ahead of him? Can we take away every gun from every gun owner? Hardly. So there will still be three hundred million guns out there, in another two weeks, probably way more because all the current gun owners will go out and by more, fearing stronger gun laws in the near future.

Should we give every teacher and principal and movie-ticket counter a gun to shoot at anyone who starts opening up? Nope. They’d probably shoot the wrong person, or freeze up when called to action. Even trained police officers freeze and their aim is off when confronted with an assault rifle-toting madman.

The whole purpose, according to NRA members, for allowing us to carry guns is the second amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” supposedly to prevent the military from taking over, allowing citizens to fight off an unwanted police state, to make those gun owners feels safer. Yet, over the years, Americans amassing three hundred million–make that 600 million guns has made a culture where we feel just the opposite—more afraid—and it is not from the military, or the police, it’s from everyday ordinary places: a movie theater, a grade school, a high school, a McDonald’s. We are afraid to send our kids to school without a cellphone to let us know if something bad is happening. We sit at the theater in an aisle seat to be able to run if someone starts opening up with an AK-47. And now we all want to homeschool our kids. They will never leave our sight.

 

Almost old enough to go to preschool.

How do you change a culture that believes they must have guns to protect themselves? You make that fear go away. You develop laws that prevent the police and the military from taking over. Haven’t we done that? Or do we still fear the police? The military? The government? If we trust the government to do the right thing, because, after all this is a democracy, THE DEMOCRACY, where we elected those officials we trust to do the right thing, then why don’t we let them protect us and we throw away our guns? “Not unless you pry the gun from my cold, dead hands,” says a gun owner.

We won’t get rid of the guns we have, won’t let the government come in and take them, so we’re left with three hundred million guns (Oh, yeah. I forgot, much more in a few weeks).

All I can think of is we bump up security in every place there might be a possible mass murder by a madman. We require everyone to go through a metal detectors at all schools, movie theaters, sporting events, super markets, department stores, restaurants, train stations, bus stations, business meetings, etc., etc., etc. We hire people who won’t freeze up when they must fire their guns, prior military; those that would be mercenaries in foreign countries will be back here, protecting Americans, and contributing to the local economy. Lots of jobs would open up, help immensely with the recession. And all those gun owners with the need to use their gun against a bad guy would be able to do just that.

Of course, there might be one or two bad apples in those security mercs hired to protect your kids at Columbine High School. They might have had an issue with one of the teachers when they were there, before they went off to Afghanistan, and now can get rid of a bunch of teachers in one fell swoop.

Hmm. Beefing up security might not work. Maybe it boils down to changing the culture, teaching people to deal with disagreements, with adversity by using something besides violence. And maybe it would help if we stopped selling weapons of mass destruction, like AK-47’s or other semi-automatic guns. Maybe, just maybe, if we three hundred million people learned to get along with each other, disagree without hurting, work out differences by talking and looking for peaceful solutions, maybe we would ignore those three hundred million guns, they would rust and become antiques. And if the United States of America, the most powerful country in the history of the world, could do that, maybe other countries would follow our lead.

I guess, in the end, it boils down to both things. We must beef up security right away, as much as we can afford, prioritizing the right places to hire extra people, the right people, and put in metal detectors, or personnel searches. At the same time we have to work on the culture of violence and need to have guns. It must come from leaders as well as parents, teachers and anyone involved in teaching about dealing with adversity, and anyone involved already with guns. Rethink why you own one, what would happen if the wrong person got it. Agree that we must tighten the laws of gun ownership so 100%, not just 60% of guns bought have a thorough background search of the potential owner.

We must continue to push basic human values of respecting one another without getting in their face. After all, what’s more important, those three hundred million guns or three hundred million people? A little love might help. Add music, some dance, and pretty soon we would all be partying instead of shooting. One could only hope.
And then there’s cookies.

Don’t fight. Have a cookie.

Have one, you might chill out. And if you haven’t hugged your grandson, your daughter, your son, your spouse, your friend, do it now. Trust me, it’s much better than holding cold steel.

If you haven’t contacted your Congressman about getting rid of guns, please do.

Milt

The next post is a follow up on this.

How to get rid of guns: The 3-year plan

This post was originally written after Newtown. I’ve added some things.

So here we are, one week after Newtown, one week after 20 children were killed in minutes by another man with a gun. Do we have any new laws about guns yet? Ummm. No.

Lot of talk. Yibber, yabber. “Make all those automatic rifles illegal.” Yeah that’ll do it. Probably get passed in 2013, or maybe 2014 or 2015, or maybe never–Yup!

We never passed a gun law against assault weapons after 2002 law was rescinded.

2017 Update on gun laws

Why haven’t we got any new assault weapon gun laws?

The NRA lobbies all those Congressmen who want to get elected with NRA money,  Texans and their oil money contribute to TV ads about why changing gun laws won’t matter. After all, “Guns don’t kill. It’s the people who pull the trigger, particularly crazy people.”

If there wasn’t a trigger to pull, no one could kill 20 kids in minutes with a gun. Not crazy people, not smart premeditated sociopaths, not teenagers with a grudge. Of course there are still bombs. There you go again, trying to change the subject. Let’s concentrate on guns.

I’ve got a great proposal to get action faster, in the next year instead of a decade. You see, I know how hard it is to get things changed in people. I see it every day. Ask someone to stop smoking to prevent a heart attack, a stroke, lung cancer, or worsening asthma in their kids. Nah, Doc, I like my smokes. But when they actually get that heart attack, or stroke, or lung cancer, or their kid almost dies in ICU from an asthma attack? Everything changes in a Marlboro minute. You just need motivation. Ask any mafia boss: Threaten their lives? You get action.

So here’s my Mafioso suggestion: It’s a three-year plan, gives gun owners a chance to get used to the new world.

First year, the kicker year:

Put a trace on all registered guns. Find out where they are in the community. Put their names on the internet. Top of the list, put anyone who owns an assault weapon. At the same time make a law that they have one year to turn those assault weapons in, or go to jail. If you turn it in in that year, you get a tax deduction. A BIG TAX DEDUCTION! BIGGER IF YOU TURN IT IN WITHIN A WEEK.

Now here’s the kicker:

On day 364, at the stroke of midnight, not a second longer, all those guns are taken, confiscated, by force if necessary, and the owner jailed, five years for every automatic weapon confiscated that is registered. Any illegal ones found—life sentence. Any resistance, shoot ‘em. If they are in public office, other than a legal gun-toting law enforcement officer, they get fired, no pension and put in federal penitentiary for treason along with a front page mug shot on the New York Times, and of course the internet.

I think after a year, instead of 300 million guns there will only be 200 million.

Second year: go after ALL rifles.

Third year: go after ALL the handguns.

 

Of course there will be holdouts, illegal ones at that. They get death sentence if illegal. Others, double time in jail, no parole.

After three years you might have a few hundred thousand guns out there. Now that’s action.

What about people who hunt? They can only rent a gun from a bona fide, licensed outfitter, and only for the time they are hunting. They can only practice at registered shooting galleries, be they outside or in, after first renting the gun there.

Who will enforce it? Why those we trust in law enforcement and the military. You do trust them, don’t you? You better. They will soon be the only ones with guns. As it should be.

Maybe a little harsh? Ask any parent of a Newtown kid killed. They will agree, and may want even worse, like maybe shooting the owners first born.

THE END RESULT: a country without guns.

How it worked in Australia.

How many police would we actually need? The police we had might actually be able to concentrate on the illegal guns. There might be a lot more urban families with fathers.

Granted, after the first year you might have more crowded jails. But I think if you were really serious, and the gun owners saw that, maybe they would give up quicker. Of course maybe you would have a war on your hands. But at least the war would be about something important, saving kids and innocent people instead of oil.

Milt

What is War?

Okay, I reread a comment on my Vietnam Wall post and feel a need to explain.

Getting drafted and going to Vietnam was certainly a possibility at that time, and though some men wanted to avoid it, I never really thought about it, since I had been working to get into a service academy for two years, thanks to my dad. Now, looking at The Wall, touching it, reading the names, and having seen movies and read countless books and articles about the horrors of Vietnam, and having treated so many PTSD and post concussive victims of that war and Iraq and Vietnam, I am thankful I was able to serve them in my best way, as a physician. Don’t get me wrong about Annapolis. If the war would have continued, I would have likely never gone to medical school, possibly ended up as a name on that wall, and done it with trepidation, but without looking back.

My thankfulness at not going to Vietnam, and able to raise a family and become a doctor is always tempered, though, with a yearning to have been there and experienced some of the heaven of war. But then there would have been the horror.

As a physician who spent my career treating either active duty or veterans, war is indeed hell, tempered with heaven. It is hell on earth with hell afterwards for many. It is heaven because many young men and women find a place where  respect, harmony, cooperation, and friendship all coalesce into a unit with a purpose you can sink your teeth into–a mission against an enemy that not only threatens values and a way of life you value and want to continue for your family, but uses primitive and horrific means to gain any advantage. The problem with that heaven is that it is temporary, and can be tainted with an abrupt descent to hell, and you have no control when that will happen. It doesn’t matter if you did everything the Bible espouses to be a good person. It doesn’t matter if you say your prayers regularly. It doesn’t matter if you saved ten fellow soldiers from annihilation by killing twenty of the enemy. It doesn’t matter if you saved thirty wounded soldiers with a surgery only you could have performed in a battle hospital. You must always live with what happened, as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz said in Apocalypse Now, “The horror. The horror.”

It bears watching again. And again. And again. If only to someday convince someone who has the power to end a war, or prevent it from starting.

 

Other Books and Short Stories

Other Novels

 

HUMOROUS ILLUSTRATED POEM ABOUT A BAD DAY FLYFISHING

click on cover and “Look Inside” at Amazon

Click here to order TTFF on Barnes and Noble

                                                            

SHORT STORIES ABOUT VETERANS

Click on cover, go to Amazon

click on cover to order

Excerpts

By Milt Mays

. . .
Should’ve stayed in the Navy. Shit happens, though.

Like that morning

The Hawaiian sea breeze cools my face, the sun warms my back and, son of a bitch, two aces! Life doesn’t get much better.

Air raid sirens crack the peace.

“Another dumbass drill,” Earl says, sitting cross-legged and staring at his cards. He’s our complainer. Gotta have one.

I stand tall and crane my neck. Planes fly in low, too low, with those terrible red circles on the sides. “Jesus!” I yell. “This ain’t no drill, boys. Those are Japs!”
Torpedoes and bombs, screams and explosions, wailing sirens, smoke and blood—it scares me, scares me dumb and deaf. . .

Short story in a collection called THE WATER HOLDS NO SCARS

 

The Water Holds No Scars

ALL PROFITS GO TO PROJECT HEALING WATERS FLY FISHING

The Drive-in Hole

By Milt Mays

Two things a man needs when he crosses into late fall: love and a good hobby. I guess there’s three. Warmth. You get that inside with the first two, but outside warmth becomes more important as the first days of winter approach. Guess that’s why I’ve moved my late fall fishing closer to summer. It gives me three out of three.

The oars creak, the September sun warms my shoulder, and I sit in the front seat of the wooden drift boat Scott made, changing my fly for the next hole on the Bighorn. In the first casts on the last hole, my shoulder reminded me of thousands in the past. Time also taught me it’s time for a hopper. . . . (click on above cover to read more)

SHORT STORY

IRAQ INJURED HIM, BUT NOT HIS SPIRIT

click on cover to order

By Milt Mays

He turns off the alarm with his good hand, the left one, and catches himself turning towards her, but squelches the initial instinct to give her a morning kiss. Maybe some day. Months after he returned, neither of them could figure out the best sleeping arrangements. But after a year now, it’s second nature to sleep on the right side of the bed. He can roll over, turn off the alarm and leave without her ever seeing his face.

“Wh …” She clears the rough sleep from her throat. “What are you doing? Why did the alarm go off?”

He sits on the side of the bed, his back to her, scrunching the toes of his right foot in the carpet. Oh, man. That shag feels good between the toes. Then the left leg interrupts. The sore spot on the center of the stump needs a closer look, but he’ll do that once he’s in the bathroom.

“Riley, it’s only six.” She sounds sexy, gravel in there and timbered low, serious. “Why’re you getting up so early?”  . . .

Wanna read the rest, click on above cover.

Thanks.

Milt

 

Two things (and one more) to do for Veterans today

One will add to the other, and you will be glad you did both. If you need motivation, take a peak at this video of a father and son reunited.

1) Give one veteran something from YOUR HEART to THEIR HEART! My suggestion is music, a song, a collection, a simple CD of music that has touched you in a way that makes you happy, makes you want to dance.
If you are a musical artist, give them a concert!
It’s your time to give back to the 1% that protect the 99%. If Toby Keith can do it, you can.

2) Do something that will stop wars. If we stop wars, there can be no more veterans suffering from ruined lives or families due to their experience in war. My suggestion is reach out and understand someone from a different culture, particularly Muslim, as we seem to need to understand them. One of the greatest generals and former President Dwight Eisenhower noted that the biggest way we can end wars is to embrace others as people, not alien beings who just don’t speak English.

Here’s a couple of Muslims you might enjoy.

Please try these two simple things. The results will be huge. Music brings us together, and I believe heals as well as any prescription I can write as a doctor.

Don’t let music, our music with each other, our love for one another, die.

Milt

PS. Another thing you might give a veteran–a good book. Give them a Kindle and they can carry the Library of Congress with them, a Kindle Fire and they can listen to all that music and watch all those color videos, too.

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