It’s a scene from a 50s World War II movie. There is tension in the air as the actors stand silently in a long line. Ahead, a uniformed officer barks out orders in a German or Japanese accent. “Haf’ your peppers in your hands when you approach the desk.” The actors in the cue shuffle forward with mindless expressions on their faces. One uniformed officer checks their papers. “Your peppers are in order. Move along.” The mindless crowd shuffles on. The scene is played out in a dozen black and white post war movies… the problem is it happens every day in America’s airports.
This week I flew to SHOT Show and I checked a gun in my baggage. The current routine is to check the gun at the desk and declare you are bringing a firearm. I was then directed to take my bag over to the oversize bag area where a TSA official would check it. Of course, if I were carrying anything that could be a threat to the airplane, I would surely have the sense to leave my gun in a different bag, but nonetheless, the uniformed TSA agent, wearing what looked like the leg from a pair of black panty hose on his head, with ear buds in his ears, adjusted his Ipod and inspected my bag. He thoroughly scrambled the contents of my bag. As he was doing this, I imagined his room at home and his car looked roughly like the contents of my bag did at the end of the search. No courtesy, no consideration, a mindless uniformed officer, performing the ritual created by his host bureaucracy. As I watched, and later passed through a long line to the x-ray machines with all the mindless sheep removing their shoes, in spite of the fact that the only bomb attempt was so crude as to only blow the feet off the perpetrator, I began to think that George Orwell, the author of 1984 and Animal Farm, missed the timing by about 50 years.
OK, I admit I’m a curmudgeon. I see much of what is normal modern behavior as bizarre. There are five million people in America today who would gladly strap a bungee to their ankles and jump off a bridge, yet these same folks wouldn’t drink from a public water fountain for $50. Today, we are so connected to the media that feeds us our opinions that we’ve lost the capability for logical thought. We are fed an endless IV drip of fear and lunacy and most of us have ceased to think about what really matters at all.
Today in America, there is a raging debate about the Second Amendment. There is talk that the situation is so serious that the President should have the ability to override the Constitution of this, the shining beacon of freedom for the world, because guns are so dangerous. This happens at a time when gun sales have more than doubled in the last ten years alone, and crime is substantially lower for the same period. One of the issues so important as to merit overriding the document the United States was founded on, is the magazine capacity of so called “Assault Rifles”.
The motivation for this is based on the premise that a high capacity rifle creates mayhem with hundreds of Americans dying because they are so effective at dispatching innocents when in the hands of madmen. In 2011, hammers and bats were used in more murders than all rifles combined, not just high capacity rifles. Unfortunately we haven’t been subjected to a steady stream of news casts by fear mongering politicians lamenting the dangers of hammers.
The “gun problem” is a problem generated by fear. Every time a gun is used in a crime, the outline of a gun is emblazoned on the screen behind the newscaster, yet we never see the outline of a beer can or liquor bottle when there is alcohol related violence or vehicle mayhem from a drunk driver. The argument is that no one needs a 30 round magazine on a rifle. I submit that no one needs more than three beers. Alcohol related deaths result in dozens of times more deaths than those generated from the use of high capacity rifles. Where is the three beer outcry? Can we ban the 12 pack? The 24 pack? What about the keg? Don’t laugh, this is serious lunacy.
It is truly sad but we have become a nation of fear. We fear the flu. We fear wheat gluten. We fear crime. We fear terrorists and yet, we don’t fear the things that really kill us, obesity, alcohol abuse, inactivity and a host of other things that are part of our daily lives. The problem is not that we don’t have enough movies about evil overeaters and beer drinkers. The problem is, we’ve quit thinking for ourselves. When we cease to think for ourselves, we increase the likelihood that George Orwell was right about the future of humanity. The men who crafted the Second Amendment created the most perfect form of government in the history of humanity. They didn’t allow fear to rule their lives. They made their decisions based on rational thought. Does anyone really believe that someone is going to try to take out an airplane with shoe bombs? I guess somebody does, I saw a lot of bare and socked feet this week.