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Heroes, Cowards, Loons And Solutions

In face of the heroism showed by the teachers and administrators who gave their lives to protect the students at Sandy Hook Elementary, the actions of the NRA and Gun Lobby can only be described as cowardice.

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There is a dynamic with such events as Friday’s massacre in Newtown, CT. We as a nation have been imprinted with the heroism of ordinary teachers willing to pay the ultimate price to protect our children.

We have also been imprinted with the cowardice of 31 pro-gun Republican senators feasting at the National Rifle Association trough while quivering in the shadows when asked to appear on national television, to speak to the American people, to explain why they support unfettered sales of weapons and ammunition.

One is left to wonder if any of these people would, as the teachers did, get between a child and bullet when they won’t step in front of a non-lethal camera.

This cowardice, while unacceptable, is understandable. These senators live lives secured by the Secret Service, Capitol Police, FBI and any number of agencies. This security provides for a lifestyle seldom interrupted by the voice of the people, ensured in part by money provided in the form of campaign donations from groups such as the NRA and its fellow Second Amendment travelers.

It is understandable, removed from risk and unencumbered by accountability, that a small child in a small town guarded by a public servant on a small salary fails in importance when harnessed to the yoke of the NRA.

Lose an endorsement? Lose an election? Or hide until the bodies are buried and the political tsunami passes?

These are not hard choices for people to whom power and privilege are more important than the people they are elected to serve.

But political expediency fails when viewed in the light of statements by the likes of Mike Huckabee, wannabe president of the United States of America, when commenting on the massacre said, “we have systematically removed God from our schools.”

He later went on Fox News in an attempt to back away from the suggestion that prayer in schools would have prevented the killings, claiming he meant that a more religious national focus could prevent such tragedies.

He was not alone in resurrecting the prayer in school issue; several rightwing ministers also touted the idea that somehow the killing of small children was God’s way of getting prayer back into the public school system. This is the same reasoning; Katrina and Sandy were God’s way of expressing displeasure with homosexuality and gay marriage.

All this retribution business does is cause pause to wonder: why doesn’t God just splice into the global communication system, tell everyone what he likes and dislikes and give these poor intermediaries a rest?

Lastly, are the diehard gun goofballs who claim greater restrictions are not the answer. The answer, according to this faction, is more guns.

This brings to mind the saying found on many a restroom wall near many a campus during the Vietnam War era: “Fighting for peace is like f—ing for chastity.”

No two public officials fit into this arena better that Sen. Ralph Shortey and Rep. Mark McCullough of the Oklahoma Legislature. Somehow a gunfight in a classroom filled with six-year-olds, or even 18-year-olds is an acceptable option to these two sons of the Sooner sod.

This pair in intrepid legislators announced plans this week to introduce a bill allowing teachers to wear guns in the classroom.

Sen. Shortey has never been considered a particularly deep thinker. In fact, it might be difficult to find evidence of any depth at all to his thinking. It is known that he really really does not like undocumented workers. But he has completely misunderstood the history of the region as it relates to Mexico.

Rep. McCullough is a similarly uninspiring piece of political protoplasm. But he and Shortey have no trouble dawning their political hot pants and high heels and elbowing each other out to the door to bask in the ruby glow of the Tea Party/NRA street lamp.

The fallacy of their argument is, unfortunately and most regrettably, as close at hand as Topeka, KS, Sunday night. While the Shorteys and McCulloughs of this country were regaling followers with their more guns solution, two Topeka officers were being slain during a routine investigation. In fact, three officers were involved and one survived.

Quite simply, these were well-armed officers operating in an environment for which they had been trained – and they still came up dead.

What makes buffoons such as these legislators think a teacher can do any better when they have an overcrowded classroom of children to protect while engaging in a firefight with a most probability better armed adversary?

It should be noted, it is the political ideology of such legislators that has helped overcrowd the teachers’ classrooms.

Also, only a couple of months ago, a young man standing in the doorway of the Tulsa City-County library was wounded by a sheriff’s deputy during a shooting incident in which he was not involved.

The deputy did nothing wrong, but exchanges of gunfire are not an exact science.

There is this American idea that mere ownership of a firearm assures accuracy.

This country can perhaps crawl out of the NRA gotta-have-my-gun vortex.

This can be done without restricting anyone’s ability to own a firearm. In many states you can now openly wear a sidearm into the local burger joint, if the owner agrees. One can only speculate as to just how good a burger has to be before you need a gun to prevent it being stolen while eating.

First, semi-automatic weapons need to come off the market. Bulk ammunition clips need to come off the market.

Handguns? Because not everyone is Dirty Harry there should be liability insurance for each and every weapon. There should be insurance in the amount it would take to not only physically repair the wound but for the rehabilitation process both physical and mental, say in the amount of $500,000.

It should be the obligation of both parties in any transfer of ownership to ensure that insurance is in force. It should be the obligation of both parties to ensure that the policy for the transfer is paid in full for one year, none of this first premium for the certificate then let it lapse business.

The seller should be required to keep a proof of insurance for each transaction for at least one year.

Failure to obtain or register insurance by the seller would leave the seller liable for any damages created by the discharge of the firearm.

Just as legislators such as Shortey and McCullough have advocated for undocumented workers without auto insurance, anyone found with an uninsured weapon would have that weapon confiscated. Possession of an uninsured weapon could be punishable by jail and heavy fines, perhaps even with the jail term mandatory.

None of this handgun insurance legislation would prevent anyone from owning a gun. Such legislation would, however, protect the bystander, abate to a large degree the uncontrolled traffic in weapons and provide a powerful incentive for dealers to make sure they keep their paperwork straight.

No doubt the insurance industry would welcome a new revenue stream and police would have a reason to take uninsured weapons off the streets and perhaps incarcerate persons who would otherwise slip through the net.

As a friend noted over coffee, the NRA and gun folks are quick to make the 12- or 70-year-old who shoots the burglar the poster face de jour.

The GOP senatorial and NRA silence screams.

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