Friday, January 18, 2013

The Gun Culture: A Nation Divided

Disgruntled and discouraged after losing the election, conservatives have found a target to vent their anger and angst at. In the wake of several mass shootings, public opinion is firmly in favor of increasing some common-sense restrictions on firearm possession. For the NRA and the extreme right-wing, this is tantamount to an attack on something they hold sacred.

The extreme Right has hated Obama from the very beginning. Start with racial animosity, add a twisted worldview that portrays Obama as a Socialist, bent on destroying America, and now he also wants to take their guns away...what's not to hate for these folks?

Of course, any rational analysis quickly demolishes the hater's arguments. Obama has been liberal on some issues, but overall has maintained a fairly moderate record. (Just ask progressives about their disappointments). The accusations of radically boosting the national debt must be tempered with realization that Republicans didn't complain when Bush pushed up the debt and started two wars while pushing tax cuts that favored the rich. Besides, with a serious economic collapse underway as he took office, Obama only continued with stimulus policies that Bush started and would have most certainly continued with.

While many folks in red states seem too math-challenged to understand this analysis, an emotional issue such as gun ownership is easy to embrace. But once the testosterone settles, what issues are really at stake?

Fact number one, there is no realistic chance that responsible gun ownership will ever be banned in this country. Zero, nada, zilch. All that I have seen proposed are common-sense restrictions on assault weapons, and an improved background check system. Whether or not one interprets the 2nd amendment language regarding a "well regulated militia" as a constitutional guarantee of gun owner's rights, guns are far too deeply embedded in our culture to imagine any serious attempt to remove them.

Still, social media forums are buzzing with angry emotional hysteria. Comparisons are drawn to Stalin and Hitler disarming the populace. Come on, do these bozos really think hand guns and hunting rifles are the only thing stopping the next tyrant? One right-wing TV talking head suggested that if German Jews had only been armed, the holocaust could have been prevented. Sure, like that would have stopped the Nazi blitzkrieg? It took the combined firepower of the Allies several years to stop Hitler. Modern armies have high-tech weaponry beyond our imagination in their arsenal. Get real.

We must conclude that the extreme Right simply enjoys venting on an emotional issue such as guns. It takes their minds off the fact that the economy seems to be actually improving, despite the best efforts of extreme Republicans in Congress to derail the recovery.

The real danger to the nation is the deepening sense of division. The gun issue is just one more major fault line to be concerned with. A powerful meme is circulating about, which presages the possibility of divisions turning violent, or even revolutionary. Any rebellion would hardly have lofty ideals behind it, and would threaten what progress we have made toward a free and just society.

Astrological alignments favor an increasing tendency toward social upheaval. Uranus will square Pluto 3 times this year, and 2 times next year. Saturn moved into Scorpio last October, and will remain there until the end of 2014. The American and French revolutions took place under similar auspices.

For those of spiritual persuasion, the hope is that the chaotic forces of change can be channeled into peaceful evolution toward a higher state of vibration. Old institutions must crumble and fall in order to make way for the new. Hopefully it can be done without setting everything back to the stone age.

The inexorable trend is for centers of power to lose relevance, as society rebuilds along the lines of local cooperatives. Regardless of the fears of conservatives, the future does not portend increased power for the federal government, but rather the opposite. The divisions forming among us must be looked at in that light. However, anger and hatred will not help build a better society, and could cause a mess that no one gains from.

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