Today the Senate pulled the “Assault Weapons Ban” out of its gun control bill because Harry Reid determined that the AWB would stop the rest of the bill from being passed. I caught a bit of the Piers Morgan Show and Piers asked rhetorically, “Why does the NRA continue to win?” The answer is really pretty simple: the NRA and its allies are focused like a laser, 24/7 365.25 days a year on gun rights. They are single-minded. The have no other hobbies. Those who oppose them are diffused and scattered. Gun control is one of their issues. Today it’s gun control. Tomorrow it’s rhino poaching, and the day after that it’s HIV in South Africa.
Gun rights people know their subject. They know the difference between a magazine and clip. They know the difference between a silencer and a flash suppressor. They know the difference between automatic, selective fire and semiautomatic. They know that “assault weapon” has no definition and cannot be codified into law. They watch every bill that comes before every legislature, and they know how to derail them.
Gun control people deal in sweeping generalizations and heart-rending anecdotes. They appeal to our outrage, our sense of justice, and “the better angels of our nature.” They put grieving parents on camera and make impassioned pleas to “do the right thing” from distant TV studios. The emotion and outrage, however intense, does not make law. Law is specific. A barrel on a shotgun can be 18” long but not 17” without a special license. A silencer has a specific definition based on what it does; looks do not matter. Do you know how many rounds your gun can hold when you are duck hunting? Do you know which states ban hollowpoint ammunition? Do you know which states permit open carry of firearms? Do you know what powers the federal government has to regulate firearms and which powers belong exclusively to the states? Gun rights people know these things; gun control people tend not to know them.
The NRA is the ultimate paper tiger. If you listen to the “mainstream media” you would think that the NRA controls the minds of millions of gun-crazed Second Amendment zealots. The fact is that the NRA has perhaps 4 million members, and really active members probably are in the range of tens of thousands. There are between 80 and 100 million gun owners in the United States. No one really knows. Many gun owners feel that the NRA is way too conciliatory and willing to deal away their rights when the chips are down. Many other gun owners think the NRA has gone off the deep end and doesn’t represent their concerns or opinions. The NRA doesn’t represent the majority of gun owners or speak for them. As long as people continue to promote the fiction that the NRA is some kind of secret all-powerful empire holding sway over the minds of our legislators, gun control advocates will continue to miss the mark and fail to speak to the majority of gun owners. Gun control advocates have an interest in minimizing the support for 2nd Amendment rights. Mythologizing the NRA is one way of doing that.
You cannot defeat an adversary you do not understand.
Tomorrow morning, when you are on your way to your yoga class, the “gun nuts” will be reading the latest legislative filings, writing down numbers and e-mail addresses, and making phone calls. And, that’s why the NRA keeps on winning.
Step through the door
between two worlds,
one to be departed
and one to be explored,
and one is unknown.
Fall asleep and awaken.
Waking and sleeping
are different worlds.
I flee from troubling vision,
sweating, out of breath,
flying not as well as before.
Awake, escaped, relieved.
Sex. Orgasm, “La petite mort,”
the little death, release that comes.
Dissolve into the universe,
indistinguishable for the moment.
Go from particular to oceanic,
a self to non-identity.
Surrender and then return.
Old guitars lean on chairs.
Sound boxes curve
like bodies of women.
Blank music paper scatters
to catch notes which fall
from long fingers
with blue knuckles.
of guitar chord spin
for a moment in the air.
Cigarette smoke settles in waves
around un-barbered heads–
islands in a phantom sea.
Music played urgently
pushes back the void.
The world shaped by it
can be photographed
but not the sound itself.
Young men who chase after ghosts
when I fight through haunted night
to keep them at bay.
I want to say, “Just give them time;
but I don’t want to spoil their fun.
Tissue frays; sharp becomes fuzzy.
Look straight ahead, not side to side.
Don’t make eye contact or answer,
or they will never leave.
There is no hope in their words, no joy.
“Do you remember me?”
they mouth the words.
They have no breath to make the sound,
no heat to warm the room.
I need a warm touch, not ghost words.
I need a throbbing pulse,
Not the rustling of dead leaves.