[Oe List ...] guns

John Epps jlepps39 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 7 08:40:24 PST 2017

This is a bit long, but represents a conversation I'm having with a friend
of many years.

Our church had a guest preacher yesterday -- she was a professor of
preaching (homiletics) at Candler at Emory, a Methodist seminary. She was a
member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, and she  PREACHED a
sermon. It was like poetic rap on steroids, passionate, verbally articulate
and diverse, a huge number of words in a little time. The preaching courses
I took were more about content than style, but she had them both. I've
never before heard a congregation applaud a sermon, but this upper-middle
class, mostly white church gave her a rousing ovation. Besides that, it was
a profound message: "Words matter: be thankful and say so. God is good, so
thank God, whatever happens."

I  find that hard after the Texas shooting at the church. Since Joe used to
contend that to pray about something without developing a plan to deal with
it was beyond useless (I think he used the phrase, "like pissing in the
wind"), I've been trying to think of some effective ways to reduce the gun
violence. Here's what I've come up with:
1. I'm not against gun ownership: I've owned cap pistols and water guns, a
BB gun, a 22, a 4-10, and a 12 Gage, and learned to fire and dismantle an
M-1 rifle. My dad and brother owned numerous types of shotguns when skeet
shooting was a hobby and bird hunting was common.
2. Advocating "gun control" has not worked and does not have much
likelihood of passing in the future. It's a direct tactic, and according to
Sun Tzu, indirection is needed to win.
3. The control of tobacco  might provide some ideas. Smoking stopped being
a popular and expected behavior.
4. Suppose a curriculum were to be introduced at the grammar school level
and expanded to upper grades on safe use of firearms. Even NRA might
support that. It might include a module that showed assault weapons were
for military use only.
5. Suppose media (TV, movies, and computer games) were to cut out shooting
people as a major emphasis (as they cut out smoking years ago). Probably
cowboy movies could be an exception.
6 Suppose a heavy tax were to be imposed on the sale of guns, with taxes
higher for the more lethal weapons (like assault rifles), the revenue to be
used for mental health upgrades. (Colorado uses marijuana tax for upgrades
to infrastructure, and gambling taxes for parks and recreation). It could
also be used for a buy-back scheme, such as has worked in Australia.
7. Opposition from the firearms industry could be ineffective, like
opposition from the tobacco industry adapted to the no-smoking movement.

Those were my initial thoughts. My friend responded:

"I was visiting Memphis and we went to purchase 25 cal ammo for a pistol I
> gave my son to carry while hunting.  He had been unable to find it
> elsewhere.  Set up in a very large room there were guns of every imaginable
> description, even an M1 .  The rifles were not your 22 but the strange
> looking weapons shown on t v after an event like Texas or L.V.  (Attendees
> included) a group of young men most speaking Spanish pooling their money
> and buying multiple handguns.  There appeared to be a table set up to
> complete forms and I suppose for background computer checks so it did not
> seem to be only a buy and walk out situation.  Other attendees were decked
> out in camo,  many had beards  transported in most cases to the show by
> pickup truck.  I could not estimate the number of assault type rifles
> available.  Vests with plates were abundant or Kevlar.  If you could
> qualify to buy then every thing you could possibly need to do what the
> recent attackers have done was there, simply for the buying.  And the crowd
> was diverse too, not just Hispanics and beards and camo.
> "There likely is not a single answer.  It was difficult to grow up in the
> small town south without gun exposure but to the same type weapons you
> described, not those I saw with modified clips to hold 40 or more bullets.
> I frankly could think of no reason to have one of those assault types
> though there is an argument others have them so I need to stay even (small
> arms race).
> "Your ideas 4,5 and 6 are entirely reasonable.  The problem comes when one
> side says "no guns at all" or uses the word "control".  Somewhere in
> between with a riddance over time of the assault type outside the military
> would help.  Evil people can do their damage even with cars and trucks as
> we have seen.

"You and I are unlikely to see an answer.  If you want "gun control" you
are a flaming liberal and if not you are a damned republican nra loving
maniac.  It is all so politicized that the truth gets buried.  But I do
believe if everyone could go to one gun (and knife) show, a reasonable
dialogue could begin."

We need to activate our "Trans establishment" posture, and work out some
practical ways to curb gun violence. What are your prescriptions?

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