By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Maybe we really can't fix stupid
From the editor
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing editor of the Bryan County News.

Maybe Forrest Gump’s momma was right. Maybe we really can’t fix stupid.

Stupid being us. The wingnuts and snowflakes and gun nuts and anti-gun nuts and Congress and the gun lobby and everybody else, all of us presumed grownups who can’t sit down like reasonable people and figure out a way to end this lunacy of mass shootings.

In the meantime, people are getting killed because of it. Lots of them.

Not that numbers matter, because if they did we’d of found common ground after Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, but there have been at least eight school shootings so far this year. This time, Wednesday in Florida, 17 were killed at a high school. Another 14 were sent to the hospital.

That was the tally Thursday, the day after an obviously deranged 19-year-old got his hands on an AR-15 and decided to shoot everybody he could.

But blame him, not the gun.

If he’s convicted, throw him under whatever jail he winds up in for the rest of his life or send him to the chair and zap him until his hair catches fire. It was his finger on the trigger.

Truth is, that AR-15 — the AR is short for Armalite rifle and it’s a semiautomatic weapon, not a machine gun — wouldn’t hurt a fly if left alone.

Guns (or for that matter, knives, or poison gas or whatever) don’t kill people, people kill people using guns, knives, cars, poison gas or whatever.

I understand all that.

I remember the old Archie Bunker line when his hippie daughter went on about guns being the reason people were getting murdered and he responded — "would you rather they was pushed out of windows, little girl?"

I thought Archie made a good point, actually. Except you’d have a hard time pushing two people out a window, let alone 17. That’s what AR-15s give you. More kill power.

Of course, law abiding people should be able to own firearms, within reason. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable knowing my neighbor liked to shoot Uzis at squirrels and had a shed full of armament out back, but I do think the Second Amendment is important and I’m a firearms owner myself.

I have three (two shotguns and a single-shot rifle) and enjoy plinking with my dad from time to time. Those weapons are where I can get them if my house is invaded.

What’s more, I toted an M203 in the Army and got to fire or help fire everything from a .50 cal to a Lance missle, and had fun doing it. So I may be a snowflake editor, but I’m one who doesn’t faint over guns. I was field artillery.

But here’s where I start to get fuzzy on things. For starters, this 19-year-old supposedly legally bought the AR-15.

How is it that a kid who can’t buy a six pack of beer can walk into a gun shop and buy a weapon capable of killing 17 human beings? How many 19-year-olds do you know who are always 100 percent rational?

For that matter, how many adults do you know who are 100 percent rational all the time? There are times I’m driving somewhere when I’m glad I don’t have a gun in the car, and by most accounts I’m usually pretty boring.

But the debate about guns goes on.

"If guns are made illegal, only criminals will have guns," is one common defense of keeping AR-15s legal. "Enforce the current law," is another, and so is "drugs are illegal and people still do drugs, Making AR-15s illegal won’t solve the problem."

No, it won’t. This is about more than the tool, it’s about why people decide to use it to mow down innocent people for no good reason any of us will ever truly understand.

But drugs are still illegal and AR-15s, which can do a hell of a lot more damage in a shorter amount of time, aren’t.

Heck, they’re popular.

I read somewhere there are 15 million of them in the U.S. right now and they’re the most in-demand weapon on the market. Just about everybody, it seems, thinks they need these weapons. I’m not sure why.

You might not ever want to bring a knife to a gunfight, but you also didn’t used to think about bringing a gun capable of firing as fast as you can squeeze a trigger with a handful of loaded 30-round clips to high school, either. Or think you needed one to protect your family or go hunt gophers, or whatever poor creatures get hunted with them, and believe that right is more important than human lives.

In the end, I don’t know what that tells us about ourselves, except that maybe Forrest Gump’s momma was right.

We really can’t fix stupid.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters