I hate weapons
In my guts,
Now I need one
For those nuts.

Everybody’s doing it. Buying a gun. Ever since the Supreme Court said anyone can own one, nervous citizens have been gobbling them up. Unconcealed weapons are even showing up in bars and supermarkets.

It used to be that folks craved heat to protect themselves from the odd, headline-grabbing home invasion. Experience shows, though, that such homeowner weaponry has proved much more useful in shooting wives, husbands, and estranged sweethearts than in defending one’s castle. Guns are also enormously convenient for committing suicide.

Kids adore them too, especially little kids. More preschoolers die from bullets than do police officers.

But kids don’t complain much about guns…they think they’re cool. The real grumps are New Yorkers. That city has passed harsh weapons laws but is loaded with them anyway. That’s because guns are a big business down South, and states like Virginia and Georgia market them like candy. Thereupon more guns head north along Interstate 95 than cross the Khyber Pass. Citizens of the Northeast are not amused.

Neither are Mexicans. Just as the U.S. provides an insatiable market for the Mexican drug pipeline, Mexican drug lords provide an insatiable market for the U.S. weapons pipeline. No, it’s not barter –we buy a lot more than they do–but the two markets are quite intertwined. If we didn’t have sufficient guns to supply them, the drug cartels would have to go after each other with machetes, a great boon to innocent bystanders.

Particularly disquieting are those recent appearances of visible guns in Starbucks, churches, and national parks. They don’t show up everywhere, of course, because different states and different managements have different rules. OK, maybe one can understand the need for firearms in the parks: If it isn’t the bears getting into your cooler, it’s the blaring music in the next campsite. Self defense is your only answer.

Actually, polling shows that Americans in general aren’t that thrilled about guns. But Americans in general aren’t that thrilled about voting either. Gun owners, on the other hand, are. Therefore politicians tend not to thwart the NRA because the anti-gun folks also aren’t nearly as generous at campaign time. But in many places there remains a good majority of folks favoring firearms restriction, which is why the gunmen still need to persuade the Supreme Court to outlaw state controls, just as it has lately outlawed federal controls. With this court, that shouldn’t take long.

It’s true that the U.S. Senate did recently reject a measure that would have allowed concealed weapons to be legal in every state, but don’t get your hopes up. That only came about because the amendment needed 60 votes. It got 58. Just give it time.

Unfortunately a lot of gun owners are kind of nutty, so now it looks like we’ll all have to get armed just to protect ourselves against them, and from the toddler next door who gets into the wrong cabinet.

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William A. Collins

OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.

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