The Weiner Component #146 Part 2 – The Republican Party & the Future

English: Woodrow Wilson.

English: Woodrow Wilson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 U.S. Presidents. Former President Jimmy Cart...

4 U.S. Presidents. Former President Jimmy Carter (right), walks with, from left, George H.W. Bush (far left), George W. Bush (second from left) and Bill Clinton (center) during the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, November 18, 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the effects of the American Civil War was the industrial concentration of large groups of people needed to manufacture the goods required by the military confrontation.  This slowly began the movement which would become, through the rest of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, known as the Rise of the Cities. This Industrial Revolution would increase after the War, people would leave the rural areas and numerous immigrants would come to the ever-growing cities and the United States would become mainly an urban nation.

 

From 1877 on, when the Southern occupation or Reconstruction by a Northern army of occupation ended as a result of a deal made during the disputed Presidential Election of 1876 in which the Republicans got the presidency and Reconstruction ended, with the South becoming freely again a part of the Union.  The Senate barely remained Republican and the House had a Democratic majority.

 

A Republican, James A. Garfield was elected in 1881.  He was assassinated four months into his term and was replaced by his Vice President, Chester A. Arthur, who served out the four years.  The Senate had an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and the House had a Republican majority.

 

There were an equal number of Republican and Democratic presidents after until you get to the reform presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, who are both Republicans.  They are followed by the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, and World War I.  He will be succeeded by three Republican Presidents: Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.  At that point we have the Great Depression of 1929 which lasts until World War II.  The Congress will generally follow the lead of the reigning president.

 

The next President in 1933, by a landslide, was the Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Both the House and Senate maintained a Democratic majority during his terms in office.  He is reputed to have brought unemployment down from 25% to 2%.

 

After his death, during his fourth term, his Vice President, Harry S. Truman, served the rest of his fourth term and an additional one of his own through 1953.  During his last two years in office the Congress had a Republican majority.

 

Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his eight years in office, intermittently had both Democratic and Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  Democratic Presidents, Kennedy and Johnson had Democratic majorities in Congress.  The same is true of Republicans, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford.  From January 1977 to 1981 President Jimmy Carter had Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress.  Ronald Reagan had Democratic majorities in the House and mostly the same in the Senate.  George H.W. Bush had to work with Democratic majorities during his four years in office while Bill Clinton had them only during his first two years in office.  George W. Bush had both during different times and Barack Obama had a Democratic majority only during his first two years, then a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, and a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress during his last two years in office.

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In the post-Civil War period, as earlier, recessions and depressions came, at the best, every few years or at the worst, almost successively, with occasional major downturns like the Bankers’ Panic of 1907 at the New York Stock Exchange.

 

On December 23, 1913 Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act bringing financial regulation into existence in the United States.  Prior to this time Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” which he defined as the motivating force behind the Market System, determined which way the Stock Market would run.  The “invisible hand,” self-interest, individual greed, had historically caused continual large fluctuations in the Stock and other Markets.

 

The mission of the Federal Reserve was through Monetary (money) Policy to maximize employment, keep prices stable, and moderate long term interest rates.  This purpose was extended with bank regulation during FDR’s New Deal.  In the 1980s the Reagan administration canceled the bank regulation.  This, in turn, led to the Real Estate Bubble two decades later.  And because of the banking-caused Real Estate Debacle of 2008 the Federal Reserve’s purpose was again expanded to supervising and regulating banks, maintaining stability of the financial structure, and providing financial services to depository institutions, the United States Government, and foreign official institutions.

 

Of course the banks objected to the 2009 reforms and in the 2014 Federal Government’s Finance Bill, Citibank was able to slip in a section into this 1,600 page law limiting this power.  This was done the night before the bill had to be voted upon.  Naturally the banks object to any regulation that limits them.  I would also suppose that their executives would equally object if any of them were sent to jail for illegal activities instead of having the bank just paying fines as they have been doing since 2009.

 

In the 2012 Presidential Election the Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney, publically stated, more than once, that after he was elected he would do away with the Dodd-Frank Banking Reform Bill that was passed in 2009.  His statements called for a return to the good-old-days before the 2008 Real Estate Crash when the banks and bankers were making inordinate amounts of money and getting phenomenal compensation packages.

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If we look at the economic patterns that occurred during the last hundred and some years what emerges is the fact that the major economic downturns were preceded by Republican Presidents.  The three presidents during the last three major downturns were: Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and George W. Bush.

 

While they were not individually responsible for the depressions it was both the Republican policies and the general ignorance of how the economy works that brought the economic collapses into being.  In 1907, there was no central bank, money, in the shape of gold coins, moved freely according to the needs of the nation.  The Panic of 2007, also known as the Banker’s Panic, more or less, began in October of that year when the New York Stock Market dropped about 50%.  There had been an assault upon the Stock Market that blew up the economy and there was no Central Bank at that time to infuse currency into the National Cash Flow.  A few years later in 1913 this depression brought about the establishment of the Federal Reserve.

 

For 1929s depression, and all the minor recessions up to that time, there was a bland reliance upon the forces of the Marketplace to continually determine what had supposedly been long term prosperity.  In essence the Market forces, the “invisible hand,” self-interest, was the determinate.  After years of pushing stock prices upward the Stock Market was severely overpriced.  This could not go on forever and it collapsed in 1929 dropping to a fraction of what it had been earlier, and in the process bringing the entire economy down.

 

In 1933 the new Democratic President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, doubled the money supply by collecting all the gold coins, melting them down into gold blocks, burying them in depositories like Fort Knox, legally doubling their value, and issuing paper money presumably backed by gold.  It was a fiction that lasted until 1969 when, then President Richard M. Nixon took away the last bit of gold supposedly behind the dollar.

 

This action by Roosevelt, doubling the money supply easily paid for the New Deal but it wasn’t enough to offset the 1929 Depression.  It would have taken four to eight times the money then in circulation to end the economic situation.  Unfortunately the problem wasn’t understood properly at that time and it took a major war from 1939 to 1945 to offset and end the Great Depression.

 

The explosion of the 2008 Real Estate Bubble toward the end of that year also occurred during a Republican presidency.  Here the next President, Barack Obama, applied all the money needed; and what could have been a Greater Depression than that of 1929 became a major recession that should have been resolved in a year or two with applications of both Monetary and Fiscal Policy.  But the Republicans, following their historic philosophy which had caused most of the economic downturns, exacerbated the situation by refusing to pass any Fiscal Policy laws.  Virtually every economic move they made tended to worsen economic conditions.  It took the efforts of the President and the Federal Reserve to keep a depression from happening.

 

If the Republicans had been solely in charge, not only the United States but the entire world would currently be in a Great Depression that would  make 1929 look like a weekend holiday.

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Much has been learned and understood as to how National Economies work from the latter half of the 20th Century on.  Economic changes like recessions and depressions can be lightened or even avoided.  The National Economies are not like wild animals that inevitably rear their heads and bring about indiscriminately varied levels of misery to their populations.  In 2009 a multi-gigantic depression was avoided by actions of the Central Government.  Economic catastrophe or lack of prosperity can be avoided and controlled.  It was in 2009 by President Obama and his administration.

 

Yet none of these practices are or have been accepted by the members of the Republican Party.  They still follow Adam Smith’s late 18th Century work, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, which in itself was, in part, a reaction against the 16th Century economic practice known as Mercantilism.  Smith defined the Free Market controlling entity as the “invisible hand,” self-interest.    What Smith did not foresee was that the Free Market led to Monopoly and Oligopoly, which led to societal economic decision-making by the few who were still motivated by self-interest.

 

This is the Free Market in which Ronald Reagan and the Republicans believe.  This is what the Reagan and his administration utilized for their newly discovered Supply Side Economics.  Lower taxes, particularly for the upper echelon of society (the rich), and they will automatically invest that new income in new industry, creating new jobs, and new productivity which will supply new goods and jobs for everyone.  And everyone will live happily ever after.  A nice fairy tale!  It never happened.

 

What did happen was that a very large percentage of the people who benefited from the tax cut gave these new savings to financial experts who invested them in old productivity, stocks and bonds.  New startup companies, when they came into existence and had proved their durability, tended to be financed by the large banking houses.

 

The theory was nonsense.  It never worked.  But the 2016 Republican candidates for the presidency are all still adhering to it.  They want to cut taxes for the very rich which currently stops being graduated after their income reaches $400,000, with the percentage the Federal Government receives staying fixed no matter how many millions or billions it goes into.

 

Why is it important for the Republicans to be Supply Siders?  Because these people are their main financial contributors.  They are the ones who pay for their political campaigns.  And the Republicans are very good at combining need (endless contributions) with political philosophy.

 

This is also true with most pharmaceutical companies.  Their products can be purchased at lower prices outside of the United States.  Congress has passed laws fixing their prices in this country and not allowing any government agency to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry.  They are large contributors to political campaigns, particularly Republican political campaigns and Republican Congressmen are utilizing the principle of self-interest.

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Of the two major political parties in the United States the Republicans are the minority party; there are far less of them than there are Democrats.  But they are far more vociferous than the Democrats, never ceasing their loud complaining about the other party.  While the Democrats seem to keep a more or less polite silence.  The Democrats are blamed for everything wrong with the country, particularly those items caused by Republican actions.  The Republicans never take responsibility for any adverse action; they are either ignored or blamed on the Democrats.  Their theories of economics are self-serving and absurd.  And ultimately in percentage of the population they are actually shrinking in number as time moves forward and they become slowly an ever-decreasing minority.

 

They, the Republicans, have been successful politically in the last six years mainly through voter apathy and disgust.  They have done far better in Midterm Elections than in Presidential ones when a good percentage of the citizenry in disgust or disappointment for what has not happened during the last two years don’t bother to vote.  This has been added to by various forms of voter suppression in states the Republicans control.  In essence they have greater political victories when more people stay home on election days.

 

In addition to this in order to gain the support of the evangelicals the Republicans have incorporated the concept of the holiness of life from conception onward into their philosophy.  Statements have been made about passing an amendment to the Constitution giving the fetus full Constitutional rights from conception on.  This will never happen but it gives them a certain credence with the far right evangelicals.

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In the 1973, the Supreme Court found, by a 7 to 2 decision, in the Roe v. Wade case that abortions were legal; that women had a right to make their own decisions about their own bodies.  The evangelicals (religious right) have resisted this decision from the beginning.  At some point the Republicans latched onto this cause and made it their own, gaining the support of this group.

 

To many Republicans today, women are not capable of dealing with their own bodies.  They state and believe there should be no abortions allowed, not even in cases of rape, incest, or where the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.  It would seem that they have and are trying to endanger women’s lives, both psychologically and physiologically.  In their view women are not capable of making certain decisions concerning their own lives.  It must be done by elderly white men who make up the bulk of the Republican Party.  This is, without question, War on Women,

 

In addition to this the Republicans are an extension of the National Rifle Association.  They tend to be against any laws regulating weapons, ammunition, and magazine size in any way.  No atrocity will deter them from this belief.  A goodly percentage of their blue collar membership, more or less, holds this belief.  To many members of the NRA the fact that this hasn’t happened is proof that it will happen if they allow any changes to occur to the gun laws.

 

It seems, if we consider the group in Oregon which has recently taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, that having weapons, like thousand dollar plus assault rifles, will keep the Government respectful.  Of course the fact that the Federal Government doesn’t want another blood bath is beside the point.  They have been there since January 2, 2016 and the few that have not been arrested and are still remaining there have stated that they will stay until the Federal Government gives the land to the original owners, the local ranchers.  It must be nice to just sit around indefinitely and wait for the Federal Government to give the land to the local ranchers.  Of course following their argument the land really belongs to the local Indians who have inhabited the area for at least the last two thousand years and claim it as their own.

 

It would seem that the Republican battle cry for a large number of its members is God and Guns, or is it Guns and God?  It’s often hard to tell which should come first.  I suppose it depends upon which Republican you ask.

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The American society has needs which have to be handled by necessary legislation.  These societal needs have been avoided by the Republican dominated legislature and in many cases by Republican dominated state law making bodies.  Congress has attempted to deal with these problems by ignoring them, especially since 2011 when the Republicans, by gerrymandering the states where they had a majority in the legislatures, gained control of the House of Representatives.

 

If anything what the House of Representatives has done is to shorten its meeting days until 2016 when they were reduced to 110 days for the year, to a three day week with holidays.  This allows the new Speaker, Paul Ryan, to spend four days a week home with his family: wife and two children, in Wisconsin and three days in Washington, D.C., as Speaker of the House.  A good job, if you can get it!

 

The Republican dominated Senate will meet a bit more often for the year.  Both Houses of Congress are ignoring the needs of the people within the nation and expect to maintain their majorities in both Houses of Congress after the 2016 Presidential Election and get a Republican elected to the presidency.  And they believe they can do this by antagonizing most of the other minorities and the one remaining majority, the women of the United States.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that after having passed a law doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) which the President vetoed, they will continue to pass laws embarrassing the President by forcing him to veto them.  They do not have enough votes to override his vetoes.  And in that way they, the Republicans, will show the public what they will get in the way of new laws in 2017 if they elect Republicans in both Congress and the Presidency.  I would imagine that if Donald J. Trump were to become the next President of the United States then all bets are off!

 

So much for Republicans!  They are, after all, the minority party which tends to win elections when only a minority vote in Midterm Elections.  2016 is a Presidential Election.  The majority of the population will be voting in that election.  The probability is that the Republicans, at best, will retain the House of Representatives; and that is because in 2011 they gerrymandered the Districts within the states they controlled.  In this way they choose their own voters instead of having the voters choose them.  Remember in the 2014 Midterm Election well over a million more votes were cast throughout the United States for Democrats in the House, but the Republicans still retained control of that body.

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It should also be noted that large, and, in some cases almost unlimited, contributions give immediate access to legislators and Congress by those making them.  These contributors to elections can and have influenced legislation or the direction the government is going.  The Republicans have integrated into their psyches the desires or needs of most of these individuals or corporations. For example, the Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas, who are involved with oil, have had their state pass legislation against green energy.  Citibank has written financial regulation which has been inserted into Congressional Bills and become laws.

 

The Republicans are after all the party of business and of the individual.  They believe in everyone having as much freedom as possible.  Their solution to adding jobs is to increase pollution and other unsafe conditions.  No one forces anyone to take a job.  Everyone has choices, even the choice to starve or live in the street.

 

Finally it should be noted that even with voter suppression the Democrats are the majority party.  States like Texas have been able to limit rural voters by two or three hundred thousand by making it very difficult and expensive for these people living in rural areas, mostly, if not all, Democrats, to get proper identification and/or register to vote.  This was proven in the last Midterm Election of 2014.  But even so, the probability is that the Democrats will gain back the Senate and keep the presidency.  The probability is that the House is the one body the Republicans may still be able to control.  If my prediction is correct we will have total gridlock in the Congress for an additional four years.  It’s a depressing thought!

The Weiner Component #42- The NRA

NRA Headquarters, Fairfax Virginia USA

It seems to me that the National Rifle Association is the weapon and munitions manufacturer’s major lobby in the United States.  Many of their chief executives are on the NRA’s Board of Trustees and these corporations are the major contributors to the NRA.

The association, founded in 1871, claims to be an American nonprofit organization that promotes firearm ownership and safety.  Its yearly budget is 231 million dollars.  The NRA’s political activity is based on the premise that firearm ownership is a natural right as well as a civil right protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution.  They have nearly a century long record of influencing or lobbying for or against proposed firearm legislation on behalf of its members.  The NRA is seen as one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington. 

The Association claims to speak for its more than five million members but, in fact, its actions are really called by a small group of seventy-six members of its Board of Directors.  The majority of the Board are nominated by a top down process and elected by a small fraction of the NRA members.  Eighty-seven percent of the organization’s membership is men.  Ninety-three percent of them are white.

Among the Board members most, if not all, the major weapon and munitions producers are represented.  There is the woman who helped craft and implement Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which served as a model for similar legislation in other states.  We find the founder and publisher of the “Soldier of Fortune” magazine, who, interestingly, was sued in the late “80s for running want ads for mercenaries and guns for hire.  There is the former Idaho senator who sponsored a bill protecting gun manufacturers from liability in connection with their products being used by criminals, which is similar to poison gas manufacturers not being responsible for the use of their products.  These ate only a few of the seventy-six Board members.

As a sort of footnote: when James Madison wrote what is now the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the early days of our nation, weapons were muskets and single shot smooth-bore pistols.  The rifle was just coming into existence.  Madison had a problem.  There was no organized military at the time but all adult males belonged to the National Guard and could be called upon to serve in any emergency.  The state governments did not have armories; each man had his own musket to be used in these situations.  The problem was to provide an armed force in times of crisis.  The right to own weapons had always existed and was understood.  Madison wrote the Amendment as a run-on sentence with two objects: one was the need for a national guard in times of emergency and the other was the right to own weapons.  Which of these was his primary object?  It can be argued either way.

Remember also that weapons were a lot simpler then.  There were no automatic rifles that could shoot well over 100 rounds a minute or magazines that could hold 15. 30. to 100 rounds for pistols or semi automatic rifles.  There were no lasers that could increase accuracy.  A man then, if he went berserk, could do damage; but a man now, if he goes berserk, can create mass mayhem, such as in Newtown, Connecticut or in the Washington, D.C. naval yard.  

There are positive things that the NRA does such as firearm safety, marksmanship training, and hunting and self-defense training; but why have they become paranoid on the subject of gun ownership?  Why do they see every move or non-move by the Federal Government as an attempt to take weapons away from U. S. citizens?

In 2008, shortly after Barak Obama was elected President the NRA announced that he planned to take people’s guns away from them; in 2012, after President Obama’s reelection they announced that the fact he did not attempt to take guns away from people during his first term was proof that he would do this during his second term.  The logic of this thinking escapes me! 

After the Newtown Tragedy there was a movement to require that all weapons purchased be registered.  In over the counter sales of firearms the weapons are registered to their prospective owners after a five to ten minute government check on the purchaser.  This is not done in gun shows where anyone can buy a gun and walk away without any check of any sort.  Convicted felons and unstable individuals can easily acquire all sorts of firearms at these shows.  Is the NRA now representing convicted felons and other similar undesirables?  Or are they just afraid of any legal measure that has to do with firearms?

We now come to an interesting question:  Is the goal of the NRA so focused on selling more weapons and munitions that it doesn’t care who buys and uses them?  If this is so then the NRA has become an organization that supports criminals and societal misfits.  The have become a group that sponsors, under the guise of selling more weapons and munitions, mayhem and death, placing profit, the dollar, above human lives.

In many states, where the Republicans have control of the government, Stand Your Ground laws, based upon the Florida model, have been passed and also legislation allowing more and more people to carry concealed weapons.  There have been innumerable Stand Your Ground shootings.  The George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case being only one of them.  The sales of firearms and ammunition have increased expedientially.  The profits for the manufacturers have also increased phenomenally.

Interestingly the State of Iowa recently passed a law that allows virtually anyone to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  This includes people who are legally blind.  They cannot get a driver’s license but at least three of them have gotten gun permits and now carry weapons.

If one looks up the sale of guns and munitions on the Internet that person finds all sorts of information.

Used weapons, both pistols and automatic and semi automatic go for about $400 to $1,000

New automatic and semi automatic rifles cost from $1,500 to $2,000

AK-47 assault rifles are from $200 to $800

Pistols range from $250 to $969

Ammunition

          Remington box of shells  $28.26 to $64.64

          50 rounds for a pistol is in the area of $19

          20 rounds .32 s&w long  $19.75 box

          20 & 50 round boxes  $23, $24

Bulk Rifle Ammunition

          500 to 3,000 rounds  $40 to $510

Ammo Magazines

          100 round drum  $266

          30 round clip (pistol) $26

          15 round clip (glock) $36, $40

If we consider the cost of ammunition and target practice, particularly with an automatic weapon, then the amount could easily reach hundreds if not a thousand dollars a session.  The profit in ammunition would be greater than the cost of the weapons.

What is the primary purpose of the NRA?  Originally it had been to serve its members.  Now it seems to be one of the leading spokesmen for the weapon industry, using its tax free contributions for its lobbying efforts, both on the Federal and state levels.

Not too many years ago the NRA supported background checks for anyone buying a firearm.  Now it sees background checks or any other gun safety measure that would protect the public as the first step in a move to take guns away from everyone.  Its position seems to be that the government is the enemy and that its mission is to protect gun owners from the Federal Government.  This is the road to madness and chaos!

Somehow the NRA has to be brought back to the point where it positively serves its members and the general public and not the weapons industry.  Returning or giving organizations power to its members by direct election can do this.

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The Weiner Component #19 – Guns & the American Way of Life

National_Rifle_Association

The Second Amendment to the Constitution states:  “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.”   What does it mean?  Why was it written?

The Constitution was adapted in 1787 by eleven of the Twelve States that had won their independence from England.  Each state functioned as an independent entity, existing as a loose new nation under the Articles of Confederation.  The Constitution was meant to tie the states into a single unit or nation and required ¾ of the states, 9, to approve it.  Some of the state constitutions included a Bill of Rights that specifically stated the rights of all individuals.  A number of the states requested that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution.   The Founders promised this during the ratification process.  The question then became where to put this declaration.  Some wanted it to be in the document, others wanted it to be added as an appendage to the Constitution.  It was finally decided to add it as Amendments to the Constitution.   James Madison wrote twelve Amendments; ten of these were adopted and became the Bill of Rights in 1791.

The Second Amendment is a run-on sentence that has two distinct meanings.   Is the purpose of this sentence to give everyone the ability to be armed or is it to provide a militia in times of need?

Any established government needs a militia.  The new United States did not have one.  After the Revolutionary War all the troops went home, both from the states and the National government.  In emergencies the central government drew its troops from the free citizenry within the states.  The states did not have any functioning military; they got their troops from their citizenry.  Therefore it would follow that the local citizens had to have their own armaments, muskets, which could be used when the occasion occurred.

This would be a logical interpretation of the Second Amendment when it came into being shortly before the turn of the 19th Century.  Nowhere does it indicate an unlimited right to bear arms: pistols, rifles, automatic weapons of war, assault armaments, rocket launchers, high impact ammunition, magazines or drums capable of holding up to one hundred rounds of ammunition.  People owned weapons in the early days of our nation because they were tools used for hunting and protection.  We now have stores that provide us with food and police forces that provide us with protection.  We have set up a government under the Constitution that provides for our safety and welfare.

The Second Amendment has been used to sanctify the possession of weapons.  How important is the ownership of guns to a good percentage of the American public?  And how important are the types of ordinance owned?

My oldest son owns one or several weapons.  He goes hunting on average of no more than once a year, going with friends from California to Colorado.  He specifically told me once that if you own guns you need a safe at one end of your house for your weapons and a safe at the other end of your house for the ammunition.  He currently has four sons living with him and his wife.  If an emergency ever arose where he had to protect his family would he have time to get a gun and load it?  As a matter of fact in a large number of shootings that occur in households where the owner has a weapon for defense, it is the owner who gets shot.  Unlike the movies a gun does not necessarily stop a home invader and it is very difficult for an ordinary person to actually shoot someone.

Yet the thought, to my son, of someone taking his guns away from him is virtually inconceivable.  It is like removing a holy relic from his house.  He would support no government administration that attempted to do this.  I don’t consider him unique.  I suspect a goodly percentage of the gun owners in this country have a similar attitude.

What is there that is so wonderful about owning a weapon?  I would suspect that it fills some psychological need, some extension of power or strength, or even of identity.  The gun has become part of their integral self.  This is probably the essence of the “gun culture” in the United States.

Yet for this we, as a nation, pay a continuing price in terms of continued use by the irresponsible or mentally disabled in terms of lives continually taken from our citizens.  Perhaps the most blatant instance is the massacre of children and adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December of 2012 by a mentally ill young man.  These killing shocked the nation and have brought the legality of military assault weapons into question.

Does the average gun-loving citizen need a weapon that the military would use in a war firefight?  I hardly think so.  Somehow the Second Amendment to the Constitution has nothing to do with all of this.

What is the cause of this “gun culture” in the United States?  If we look to the movies, particularly on television a good percentage of the films utilize weapons and shoot outs.  Does this really exist in real life or is it a fantasy to enhance the myth of manliness in drama?  The cinema has also created a mythical  “old west.”  People there generally did not go around wearing pistols in holsters and continually settling their disputes with a fast draw.  Cowboys wore pistols as a noisemaking tool in controlling cattle.  Most westerners owned rifles that they did not carry with them at all times.  The various attempts to legalize concealed weapons are relatively new phenomena.  Today we seem to be trying to get back to a time that never really existed.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is an organization of 4.3 million members in a nation of over 330 million people, where the leadership holds positions far to the right of a goodly percentage of its own members who, according to poles taken since the Newtown, Conn. Tragedy, would like to see more regulation on the sales of assault and other weapons, as well as high impact ammunition.  I understand that there is pressure brought upon this group by other small groups far to the right of the NRA who feel the NRA has compromised and given up far too many gun rights already.  Also the NRA, in addition to being funded by its member’s dues, is also funded by the weapon industry.  They are considered a powerful lobbying group and are heavily involved in political campaigns.  The NRA has what seems to be a “one strike” principle.  If anyone of either party ever supports legislation that restricts weapon usage in any way they will financially oppose him in his next primary and/or election.  Their goal seems to be to increase the number of weapons out among the general public with no restriction on the types of guns or ammunition.  .

However, the situation, as it currently exists, is totally ridiculous.  In terms of the percentage of weapons in the hands of the population there are far more today than there ever was in the wildest days of the Wild West.  The legal requirements for buying weapons today are a joke.  Anyone can buy virtually any kind of firearm if they have the cash.  And, unfortunately, the system as it is currently set up allows anyone to purchase these weapons at will.

The NRA’s president, Wayne La Pierre, has suggested that Congress pass a law and fund having a police officer in every elementary school in the United States.  That, he apparently feels, would protect all children from unstable people on their campuses with weapons.  That would bring about several undesirable changes.  It would turn every single elementary school into an armed camp and destroy the concept of the school being a safe place.  Also Mr. La Pierre has not been to any elementary or any other public school campus in many years.  The campus covers a large area of land, far more that a square block, with a multitude of classrooms.  How would one police officer be able to assure safety constantly throughout the entire structure?  Also there were police present during the Columbine High School Massacre and the Virginia Tech Massacre.  They were not able to stop killing sprees by unstable people.

The NRA concept is nonsense.  It would create feelings of insecurity among the students and staff of the elementary schools in our nation and probably create generations of insecure people.  In addition all those anxious people with weapons would have occasional accidents.  What we need to do is limit the types of weapons available and provide total background checks on all persons purchasing any kind of firearm.

Do people have a right in the United States to own guns?  I suspect that James Madison’s reason for writing the Second Amendment to the Constitution is different from the interpretation of some of the judges who have ruled on its meaning.  If we look at the era between 1980 and 2012 we find that there have been conservative Republican presidents for twenty of the thirty-two years.  They have appointed a host of conservative justices.  Given the reverse from 2008 on we could get a like or larger number of liberal judges.  The interpretation of the Second Amendment can easily go either way.

No one is saying that guns should be removed from everyone.  What this article is indicating is that sanity should rule the ownership of weapons.  Responsible people have no problem with them; it is irresponsible individuals who should not be able to acquire them.

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