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"Any of these are good for home defense."
- The great Dick Miller pointing to a rack of assault rifles in THE TERMINATOR, a minute before Arnie shoots him

Has the NRA brainwashed everybody? Or has this society really sunk to the NRA's paranoid, vigilante level? Reading some of the commentary on the Jonesboro massacre was like entering a funhouse mirror: The American gun culture, and the easy accessibility of guns to pre-teens, were not responsible for the murders. Or at least not as responsible as video games, TV, and music.

Of those three scapegoats, video games are the thorniest issue. Military psychologists have, after all, pointed out that human-target video games are uncomfortably close to military training designed to desensitize soldiers to shooting at real people in combat. The desensitization issue has been with us for decades, usually applied to those old bugaboos "violent TV and movies." It's true that pop culture in general has gotten more desensitizing -- to everyone, not just children -- if only by its sheer volume. But the fact remains that millions of people exposed to the same stimuli do not kill -- possibly because their parents gave them the psychic tools to process violent entertainment.

Gun apologists seem to have risen en masse and delivered dire predictions that the Jonesboro abomination will lead to the banning of guns, but I've seen comparatively few calls for such a ban. Instead I've seen a lot of wishy-washy think pieces that are basically glorified shrugs: "We don't know why they did it. We don't know what to do about it. We must ask ourselves hard questions." Like what?

Like, for example, why are there so many fuckin' guns in this country?

I've never understood why gun advocates cling to the old Constitutional defense: "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." Yeah, that was written back when homesteaders needed protection against English troops and Indians. Today the Indians have reservations and the English have the Spice Girls. If the Spice Girls show up at my house wearing warpaint and waving .44 Magnums, then I'll call you NRA guys, okay? Until then, shut the fuck up.

Can someone please tell me why Americans who aren't in a combat zone need assault rifles? You can't hunt with them. If you do, there's nothing left of the target. "This is a deer head. Well, this was a deer head -- I could only find an eyeball and part of an ear. But I shot it myself, dammit!"

Even hunters with hunting rifles are pussies, I think. There's the deer. Totally defenseless. Can't shoot back at you. Would probably run away from you if it saw you. Pull the trigger -- BANG! One for the trophy room! What does it prove except that you're a good shot? "I killed it clean and quick -- one shot." Hang the head up: "I killed this deer." Big fuckin' deal. If you really want to impress me, sneak up behind the thing and kill it with your bare hands. Give it a chance to fight or flee.

But they don't. They kill from a distance. It's easy to kill a deer that way. It's easy to kill a bear.

It's easy to kill four little girls and a teacher in a schoolyard.

Because that's where that leads, folks.

We let these nuts have all the guns they want, and then when two little kids open fire, a nation is in shock. Wake up and smell the fuckin' blood, folks. That thing in Oklahoma City? Once those militia dickheads get ahold of a nuclear warhead, we're gonna look back on Oklahoma City with nostalgia. "Remember when they were only blowing up buildings? Those were the good old days, man -- I mean, Jesus, last week they took out Rhode Island and half of Massachusetts."

It's machismo and paranoia run amok, this stockpiling of weapons, and it's even found its way into the brains of otherwise intelligent people, some of whom I know personally, who own guns. They're not militia thugs and they're not Charles Bronson, but they have, I think, been conditioned to think in terms of kill or be killed. Gotta be prepared in case someone breaks into the house or tries to steal your livestock. Never mind that the most visible recent gun massacres have happened in public places.

So, what then? Shall we all bring guns to work in case someone decides to go postal? What is this, the Wild West? Have we all gone insane? Were we really given the inalienable right to kill human beings from a distance, quickly and efficiently? What kind of society are we making?

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