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Friday, October 19, 2012

Gail Collins, "The Least Popular Subject": She's Almost Correct

When was the last time I agreed with anything that Gail Collins said? Honestly, I can't remember. So it came as something of a shock when Collins, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Least Popular Subject" (, acknowledged that both presidential candidates have refused to embrace gun control. Observing that "there have been 43 American mass shootings in the last year," Collins writes:

"So President Obama, a vocal gun control supporter in his Chicago days, is now a gun control nonmentioner. And, when it comes to legislation in Congress, a nonhelper.

Republicans are usually eager to bring up gun control, the better to denounce it. But Mitt Romney has — surprise! — a complicated history of policy molt on the issue. He was once on the same page as Ted Kennedy, and then the page turned.

. . . .

Into all this stepped [Nina] Gonzalez, who was haunted by the Colorado theater shooting in July that killed 12 people. The gunman carried a 100-bullet assault rifle. The ban on assault weapons, which allow you to fire as fast as you can keep pulling the trigger, expired in 2004. Congress has been afraid to renew it because, you know, there’s the lore."

Well, Collins almost has it right: If the assault rifle is automatic, the shooter doesn't need to continue pulling the trigger to empty his magazine.

As I have previously observed in this blog, much of my life has been spent in the military living with assault rifles. I have eaten, slept and gone to the toilet with my rifle by my side. To be without my rifle would instantly create a feeling of extreme anxiety that something had gone missing from my body.

I also came to know the power of my assault rifles. Fired on automatic, I could unleash a hail of bullets, exchange magazines in the blink of an eye, and resume shooting. And the possession of such an instrument of destruction demanded a heightened level of caution and responsibility to ensure that this tool of death would never be misused while entrusted to me.

Even today, I have nightmares about losing my weapon.

Yes, a maniac will always find a way to kill, but we shouldn't make their task any easier by permitting the sale of assault rifles, which are designed for easy killing.

But is gun control indeed the "least popular subject" in the 2012 election? I don't think so.

Note how both candidates are studiously avoiding, when possible, the subject of America's ground involvement in Afghanistan. No mention of the senseless escalation of this war by Obama. No mention that more than 2,000 United States soldiers have died in this morass. No mention that this war is costing the US some $6 billion per month.

In fact, there is much that is not being addressed by both presidential candidates.

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