After yet another mindless shooting tragedy by yet another mindless individual who mindfully managed to obtain thousands of dollars worth of firearms, Special Weapons and Tactics team equipment and ammunition, some of us are left to ponder who and what we are as a nation. Of course, there are those who pay no attention to these things at all — and, unfortunately, that has been with us for decades.
After World War I, the United States contracted our military and militarism to the point of absurdity compared to the rest of the world. We also couched our national philosophy as strict isolationist: “No more foreign wars,” we said. When the Weimar Republic was overthrown by the National Socialists and Japan insisted on taking the mineral resources from China, we were not at all prepared to police the world, nor did we care to, as we do today. We had almost no military budget of any significance until the winds of war blew its waves upon our shores.
Before Harry Truman was picked as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last vice president, he chaired a Senate committee that rooted out corporate corruption and bureaucratic bungling while the United States was actually fighting World War II. Even during wartime, our corporate moguls were finding ways to cut corners and fiddle contracts to increase profits. It didn’t matter to them that they were sending inadequate, shoddy equipment to our fighting men overseas. Truman sorted them out, and production volume and quality soared sufficiently so that we overwhelmed our enemies and created the greatest industrial base in the history of the world. Everybody made lots of money the right way.
The prophetic warnings from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the hero of the European Theater in World War II, about the military-industrial complex becoming the political force in the United States were insufficient to quell the mindless militarism of the Cold War and the subsequent fears we live with today.
Our politics have become exactly what Ike warned us about. We are a nation of fear. The people own 300 million guns in the home of the brave. I was teaching eighth-grade science on April 20, 1999, when two spoiled, enabled and deranged teens shot up Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 15 people. Since then, we have recorded more than 1 million deaths by gunfire in our country from all causes. When Barack Obama was elected president, gun and ammunition sales stripped the shelves of every store that sold them. Why? Fear, that’s why. People were told somebody was coming after their guns, and they believed that.
Any person smart enough to sip coffee knows nobody is coming after anyone’s guns. They might get shot, after all, from a fearful gun owner. I do not enter the arguments about the Second Amendment and its perverted interpretations because it will have no positive outcome. Fear undermines logic every time.
I say everyone should do what they want. After all, guns and weapons of war are about all we make in this country. Buying guns is good for business and puts people to work. That’s who we are, isn’t it?
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.