Guest Editorial: Happiness is not a warm gun


From: J.B. Elmquist
Hancock, Minn.

“Happiness is a Warm Gun”

John Lennon was not advocating the continued proliferation of hand guns and assault rifles when he wrote “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” but the Post’s guest columnist Don Salyards and letter writer Col. Gudmundson trot out the same tired gun manufacturers’ tripe suggesting that, to paraphrase another Beatles’ song title, “All You Need is Guns.”

The republican party demonstrated how gun-crazy they have become earlier this month when they blocked a bill that would prohibit firearm sales to persons on the government’s No Fly List. Their presidential candidates are falling over each other talking tough on terrorism and yet defending the rights of terror suspects to buy guns. So suspected terrorists you can’t fly home for Ramadan, but you can buy assault rifles? Apparently republican lawmakers are so frightened of Wayne “Pepe Le Pew” LaPierre and the NRA that they have completely lost their minds.

Mr. Salyards writes that “Ironically, the founding fathers have already given us a superior solution to this problem, the American militia.” Irony is defined as “using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.” The framers of our constitution were not trying to be funny, Don, when they called for a “well regulated Militia,” but I guess it is ironic that you cite them in this way. They were referring to state militias, and for 200 years the nation and its court system understood that fact. It was only with the rise of the NRA in recent decades and its misguided political clout that right-leaning courts have interpreted the phrase to mean Joe Plumber.

Salyards, Gudmundson and other anti-government gun nuts continue to sing their “All You Need is Guns” refrain as the violence piles up. Salyards believes that if there had been “even four or five French citizens in that theater with concealed handguns the insanity would have stopped much sooner.” Hand guns in the mosh pits at heavy metal concerts, Don? Apparently we should fight fire with fire and insanity with insanity?

Gudmundson writes that “We’ve figuratively kicked them between the legs, knocked out all of their teeth, and crushed their skulls with evidence that clearly established that they [the non-gun nuts] are wrong.” Then he lists recent multiple shootings that were not perpetrated by white males and statistically shows that Norway leads the world in multiple victims per million people. Lighten up Colonel; it’s hard to think clearly when you’re mad as hell!

As Mark Twain famously said, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Anyone can see that the reason Norway tops the list is because of the 2011 attacks by a white, right-wing, gun nut Norwegian male who killed 77 people. With a population of 318 million, the U.S. would have to suffer 4,897 fatalities to statistically equal that one Norwegian attack.

Americans like simplicity, but unfortunately gun violence and Muslim extremism are complicated subjects. Rather than worry about Americans demonizing firearms as Salyards does, I worry about “conservatives” and their hysterical rhetoric demonizing abortion providers and Muslims and provoking attacks like the recent one in Colorado. The shooter imagined himself a “warrior for the babies” when he gunned down innocent women and a police officer. The terrorists may be “heartless killers who care nothing for peace” as Mr. Salyards says, but they have legitimate historical grievances. The Jewish fighters who blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 killing 91 people were either terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on your perspective.

To say that flowers will defeat bullets may be naive, but to call for more guns is dangerous and will only benefit the gun industry. I am a proud gun owner who recently gave my daughter a 20-gauge shotgun, but I don’t need assault rifles, pistols or flame-throwers to defend myself. We need to stand up to the gun lobby and reduce the number of guns on our streets. America needs laws prohibiting gun show sales, straw purchases and assault rifles. You guys can still sleep with your guns if that’s what gets you through the night, but more guns are not the answer to our problems.


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