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This week: Afterthoughts on Newtown; Cannabis can be revenue

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Newtown: Afterthoughts

This letter is in response to the articles covering the Newtown school shooting and the ongoing debate regarding gun control.

The second amendment of the United States 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.”

Obviously the need for a state militia has been fulfilled by the National Guard and Coast Guard, whereby trained military personnel are entrusted with the defense of this country against domestic enemies. Their weapons are tightly controlled and safeguarded.

The only two reasons for a citizen to own a firearm are for hunting or for defense of the household from intruders. In either case, ownership of a single-shot rifle is more than adequate to satisfy these purposes. There is absolutely no need for any U.S. civilian to own any weapon more powerful or sophisticated than this.

Accordingly, all single-shot rifles must be licensed and registered to the degree necessary to match weapon to owner at the click of a computer key.

Furthermore, if we had prevented the purchase of more sophisticated weapons, several innocent victims would not have died or been harmed at shopping malls, college campuses, Congressional appearances, a movie theatre and now an elementary school. The question before the American people is: what are you prepared to do to prevent people who want to kill from obtaining rapid-fire weapons such as those used at the Newtown school?

It goes without saying that people kill people, whether it be with a gun, automobile or some other means. This incident involving Adam Lanza appears to be the planned act of someone who was so full of rage that murdering innocent children and adults was his only way of expressing it. Now that he is dead, we can only speculate about his motives, but are also left to grieve the results of such a heinous act.

*

The atrocity in Newtown, Conn. is not merely reflective of a society that is obsessed with guns. More deeply, it is indicative of a deeply materialistic society.

The world is in a crisis, having no prevailing spiritual basis to our systems, structures and economies. By spiritual I do not mean religious, but recognizing the fundamental oneness underlying all that exists and seeking to express that oneness by serving others and sharing in all that we do. Our structures and institutions see people, groups and nations as disunited and, consequently, value competition and retribution. Competition creates conflict as individuals, groups and nations compete with each other for a bigger piece of the pie. Likewise, retribution can be seen to permeate social thinking: “Get even with them; lock them up and throw away the key; sue them; execute them; bomb them.” Often this is euphemistically expressed as “seeking justice.”

Materialism leads people to see themselves as independent of all others, with no responsibilities to that greater whole from which their life springs. All are required to be gladiators fighting for what is theirs—whether individually or identified with a group (for example, through nationalism)—and wanting payback when things don’t go their way.

Under the pressures of materialism, imbalanced or angry people act out, sometimes in horrific ways. It is easy for them to find the tools to express their misguided urges in violence with the easy availability of firearms, reflective of an obsession this country has with guns (and militarism). Firearms are either seen as symbolizing freedom or as giving some people a sense of power in a material society where they feel an increasing fear of their neighbors and/or lack of meaning and power. Both Democrats and Republicans have been reluctant or unwilling to address this obsession.

The Democrats no longer want to be seen as opposing the Second Amendment. When a mass shooting takes place, their solution is to say, “Now is not the time to be talking about gun control.” However, the time never seems to come. And Republicans see gun ownership as a sacred right. Their solution to senseless violence is not to tighten restrictions on owning a gun, but increase gun ownership. After a shooting, the very first thing gun advocates say is, “Too bad someone else didn’t have a gun. They could have killed the shooter.” It would be like suggesting, as the character Archie Bunker suggested to audience laughter on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family, that every passenger boarding an airplane be given a gun to stop hijackings.

For every case of road rage, every barroom fight, domestic disturbance, argument, a gun will be at hand if we accept such a comical solution to such a serious issue. How many thousands more people would be killed over the course of a year?

Some politicians feel empowered to suggest that legislation be passed to limit access to high-powered, semiautomatic weapons. That is a bandage. It won’t be until society begins to see itself as united beyond color, class, creed, nationality, religion, gender and other petty differences that the underlying reasons for such violence will abate and our obsession with guns will wane. People will have to see the folly of competition and retribution and demand more justice and fairness, sharing and cooperation from our leaders, and persuade them to create a better, more just and safe future for us all.

*

The War on Drugs failed $1 trillion ago [“Legalizing Pot: The Cork Is Popping,” December 11, 2012]! This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab and clean needles. Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy. Cannabis can provide hemp for countless uses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red!

Vote Teapot, pass it, and legalize it. Voice your opinion with the movement and read more on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html.

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