I am a pretty good shot with a rifle.
I won a Turkey Shoot as a teenager. I have destroyed clay pigeons, rabbits, and frisbees with a double-barreled shotgun. I trained on an M16, an adaptation of the AR-15.
So when I talk about guns I understand the allure and the repulsion. I wore a uniform when I fired that M16 and believe civilians should not be walking about with that kind of firepower.
The Senate's failure to impose the bare minimum gun safety measures is unconscionable and I will do my best to remove these cowards from office for dereliction of duty.
But I think we who believe that the 2nd Amendment is not a license to possess weapons of mass slaughter, make a mistake if we simply believe the NRA's dollars have purchased the conscience of legislators.
It isn't simply the money, it is the ideology of fear. It is their central story that the world is a terrifying place of scarcity and no matter the noble words of the left or how much they wish it could be a fair place when the oil is gone and the water is scarce we will all go feral and only the strong will survive.
The space between now and then are only gradients of decline toward and inevitable collapse.
Will it be roving bands of "urban" home invaders? Activated terrorist cells? A tyrannical government that will turn on the docile, weapon-less masses it is supposed to serve?
These are the fears, spoken by the survival cultists but whispered by an inner voice even to those who aren't huddled in camo gear as part of their make-believe militias.
They wish it were not so. They cannot accept the story that they are the bad guys because they believe when push inevitably comes to shove, you will be banging on their door begging to join them as the metaphorical zombies come for "decent people." They believe they have faced up to an inconvenient truth the rest of us want to sing Kumbaya with our fingers in our ears to avoid. They see us as the hypocrites who want to think pork comes from the grocery store not from stopping the heartbeat of a sentient being.
They have a story that is as logical and powerful to them as it is cynical and dangerous to us.
It is simple, clean and clear. "I'm a good person. I'm not looking for trouble but I will protect mine."
We mock the "good guy with a gun" rhetoric but the idea that a good heart and a weapon, real or mystical, will save us inundates us daily. If you make the gun look like a wand, we don't mind if you put them in the hands of children. Orcs or Uruk-hai, thugs or terrorists, they feed the same idea that a militia or fellowship must have the weapons to stand against the corruption.
The simplicity of their ideology is as attractive as it is self-fulfilling. Their xenophobia, racism, fear of all difference is what is eroding our social contract. Guns are not making us safer as mass shootings and the normalization of daily carnage attest. In difficult times, we need each other. We are not islands. It is why we don't permit hoarding or price gouging in the wake of a hurricane. Our lives depend on cooperation.
Their blaze of glory fantasies cannot be indulged. Weapons capable of mowing us down in our schools, theaters, places of worship, our night clubs do not make anyone safer. These are weapons of mass slaughter and the free flow of them in our society must be stopped. But we delude ourselves if we think this is simply a matter of money.
The problem is much deeper than the NRA's pockets.