Ignorance, Cowardice and Greed: Once Again the Slaughter of Innocents.

October 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

The Crime

A couple of days ago in Las Vegas a man entered a hotel carrying an arsonal of weapons designed for malitary combat.  He checked in to a room near the top floor, broke a window offering a view of his target and, when a crowd gathered to enjoy a few hours of music, he opened fire with an automatic weapon equipped with a powerful scope and, from his perch a mile away from his targets, began, with deadly accuracy, indiscriminately killing people.  In a few minutes he killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.

Until he pulled the trigger everything he did (othe than breaking the window) was not only legal but protected by the laws of the United States of America.  His right to own unlimited numbers of military weapons designed specifically for that kind of killiing and inappropriate for hunting or any other harmless sport, was a gift from the National Rifle Association and its political supporters.

Given these facts it seems irrelevant to me for the resources of law enforcement to be wasted trying to discover why this murderer did what he did.  The guilty perpetrators of this tragic crime are well known and politically powerful:  They are those who raise money and organize political supoort for the laws that furnished him with the opportunity to acquire those weapons.  They hide behind the 2d Amendment to the Constitution but this is a transparent sham.  The “right to bear arms” is, indeed, a Constitutionally protected right but, like all legal rights,  it is not immune from reasonable restriction.  The Constitution also protects our right to travel from one state to another but that does not mean that traffic laws and safety laws cannot be imposed and enforced.

An Analogy

I do not believe my fellow citizens, if they consider this issue carefully, are generally so bereft of empathy and common sense, that they would allow their elected representatives to permit and protect this kind of horror.  I am proud to be an American.  Our country has a well earned reputation for justice and fearless willingness to protect the helpless and weak from harm at the hands of murderers and deranged people.  I choose to believe we have failed to solve this problem because the NRA has cleverly misrepresented the issue.

I spent my working life arguing in court, in labor arbitrations, political campaigns and other arenas for verbal combat.  I found pertinent analogies to be useful as a means of illustrating the nature and consequences of an argument.  So, here is my effort to illustrate why our gun laws need to be revised.

For many decades the National Rifle Association was an honored organization, devoted to teaching gun safety to young people and supporting helpful laws related to hunting and target shooting.  Some time in 1960’s, the leadership of the organization changed and it began to use fear to stoke fundraising efforts,  claiming “they” are coming to take away your guns.  They argued that every restriction on gun use or ownership was a “slippery slope” ending in the total disarming of everyone.  That dishonest claim destroyed any reasonable regulation of gun ownership.  The result killed and maimed inocent people in Las Vegas last week.

Here is an analogy for you to consider:

PETA Unlocks the Zoos

A useful and honorable organization is PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  It supports facilities for homeless pets, laws prohibiting cruel forms of livestock slaughtering, educational projects teaching the proper of treatment of animals. In other words, PETA is like the NRA was before its transformation.

Now suppose a new group gained control of PETA.  This group decided to oppose zoos because they lock animals in cages and use other devices to restrict their movement.  After many emotional appeals and tales of sad animals helplessly and hopelessly confined, they managed to secure the enactment of laws severely restricting the extent to which animals can be prevented from roaming at will.  PETA advocates found “experts” to claim that, if provided with adequate food and shealter, animals would voluntarily remain within reasonable distance from their cages even if the cages were left unlocked.

Because zoos are generally located in urban environments with few lures or enticements for zoo animals,  allowing the animals to come and go freely from their cages proved acceptable because the familiarity and safety of the zoo environment and the availability of adequate food served to prevent the animals from straying far from the zoos.

There were, however, periodic problems, especially with lions, tigers and wolves.  Occasionally one or more of these predators would venture away from the zoo and attack someone.  When this happened, PETA would attribute the attack to some mistake by employees of the zoo where the offending animal was housed.  An investigation was always conducted  to identify the reason for the unfortunate attack on a child or some unprotected adult.  Assurance that the reason for the tragedy had been identified and was being corrected was always presented at a press conference.

On some occasions one or more of these predator animals would attack some gathering, like a birthday party or the parking area surrounding a stadium where some sports event was scheduled.  These attacks attracted public attention and there were urgent demands that the animals be put back in their locked cages.  PETA would respond with a barrage of TV ads attacking the cruelty of  those who called for those restrictions.  Each side gradually attracted political support and vigorous fund raising efforts.

As this issue developed, both sides began to raise substantial aounts of money and to support candidates for public office with  large financial contributions.  Emotional appeals, based on exaggerated claoms of cruelty and abuse associated with locked-cage zoos proved to be very effective bases for fund raising.

Conclusion

Now, before I leave this essay:  My short account of PETA v. Zoos is a FANTASY.  There is no possibility of PETA becoming an advocate for free-ranging lions.

I do claim this fanciful description of PETA being responsible for unlocked zoo cages is analagous to the NRA being responsible for dangerous and even mentally deranged individuals having access to military style weapons.  No wolf, tiger or lion would have been capable of the mahem in Las Vegas.  It has often been said that the most potentially dangerous and vicious animal is homo sapiens.  Centuries of history surely erase all doubt of that statement.

It is way past time for an awakening.  We can no longer afford to be governed by people who lack the courage and conscience to say “No” to the NRA.

 

 

 

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