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The Boogeyman Effect-By Daniel Riordan

December 28, 2012

It’s been a couple of weeks since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
Since then, the shift from sorrow over the victims to blather over gun control has set a land speed record.
I’m finding you can’t have a rational conversation about guns in our country. For the people I’ve talked to, who support gun control, the talk of it causes them to react in the same way a drug addict might if you suggest rehab.
Some even suggest the government uses tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary as an excuse to take all our guns away and have total control over us.
Really?
You mean the same government that can’t get a fiscal deal done and whose post office can’t get my package shipped on time is plotting to take all our guns away?
Call me naive if you will, but the minute the government does anything besides drone bombing foreign countries well is the minute I’ll believe they are capable of anything else.
I know gun control alone isn’t the answer.
First of all, you have enough weapons in circulation right now to arm every man, woman and child in this country.
Even if you stopped production of guns today there are hundreds of millions of guns on the street.
You get varying tales of gun control. You look at England, Japan and Australia. They all have strict gun laws. And few murders by handguns each year.
Then you look at Mexico. They have some of the strictest gun laws yet violence is out of control there.
That can also be attributed to the drug cartels.
One thing that you can’t legislate is Americans’ fear of the bogeyman. The unknown.
It starts like this - government drops the ball in commission of their duties. They are seen as inept, over-reaching and ,frankly, evil. The media is charged with being the watchdog of the government. They wet the bed in that responsibility.
So now you have a public that distrusts government and media.
While both entities are largely inept, they are perceived as being part of some vast conspiracy.
Instances of chicanery between government and media are blown way out of proportion and seen as the rule rather than the exception.
This is combined with an ever-growing victim mentality in this country.
And I’m not talking about the people you see as “welfare queens” or the ones on daytime talk shows.
These people are our neighbors, friends and family.
Everyone is getting over on the system except for them.
The amount of whining and complaining I hear on a daily basis makes me want to scream.
This rampant and borderline pathological feeling of being the victim manifests itself into fear.
That fear combined with the false notion that the government, media and “them” are out to get you is a dangerous cocktail.
So we arm ourselves to the teeth. Why?
Because someone may burst into our house and murder us and take our things.
The media does a pretty good job of making us believe this happens pretty much 24 hours a day, all day, everywhere in this country.
I went to the FBI’s website. They have statistics from 2010. That year, 12,996 people were murdered.
Of those, 53 percent of those murders were by someone the victim knew. In 44 percent of murders, the relationship of the murderer and the victim were unknown.
The chances of someone in this country of being murdered by someone they don’t knew is as likely as that same person winning the lottery.
I’m not trying to diminish violence in this country. And I also don’t think we should be taking away people’s guns.
But this frenzied fear of some bogeyman coming in and murdering you in your sleep is insane to me.
It’s important to be vigilant. It’s important not to be lax.
But I think our collective fear of the unknown is at an all-time high.
I personally think a ban on high-powered assault riffles should be looked at.
Initiate a buy back program for some guns.
Improve security at public places and schools.
But there is no fail safe, full proof plan to stop such tragedies. I don’t think you can legislate crazy or evil.
I believe in and respect the 2nd amendment. Though I think we can look at it like adults. The founding fathers were worried about a British invasion (not the Beatles) and wanted armed militias in case.
I think anyone who is of sound mind and boy and not a felon can own as many shotguns and pistols as they want.
But conversely, I bristle at this idea that when tragedies like those in Newtown happen EVERYONE should be armed.
Arm the principal. Arm the teacher. Arm the janitor.
People have the right to bare arms. I have no beef with that.
I have the right to not want anything to do with a gun.
It’s not because I’m a sissy or some liberal whackjob.
I’ve fired shotguns, handguns and semi-automatic weapons before.
It did nothing for me.
I lock my door at night.
I don’t fear that someone is going to bust through and take my stuff or murder me.
I guess I don’t have enough time in the day for such thoughts.
And it’s not like I’m not protected. I have a 34 ounce Carlton Fisk-signed Louisville Slugger next to my bed. That’s comfort enough for me.
I’ve gone 31 years without carrying a gun. And a good deal of that was spent on the South Side of Chicago.
I’ll be just fine going the next 31 years without one as well.
The Obama administration, in my opinion, won’t make sweeping gun reforms. Much in the same way, it didn’t do enough reform regarding Wall Street after 2008.
Obama doesn’t carry the gravitas to enact sweeping gun control laws. He’s already seen as wanting to take everyone’s guns.
Reagan could get away with it because he was largely respected by gun owners.
And to my point, I don’t know if gun control in and of itself is the answer.
I think its going to take a culture shift.
And not away from violent movies or video games. Everywhere else in the world has those same things.
It’s going to take a ramping down of this fear and paranoia so many of us have toward our government, toward our media, toward each other.
But why believe me? I’m probably just a part of the conspiracy.
I’m still waiting for my conspiracy decoder ring in the mail though.

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