"I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that's what I did. I was trained in firearms. I walked to the hospital when my husband was sick. I carried a concealed weapon and I made the determination if somebody was going to try and take me out, I was going to take them with me."
- Dianne Feinstein
In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Dread That Is Ted" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/opinion/collins-the-dread-that-is-ted.html?_r=0), Gail Collins takes Senator Ted Cruz to task for daring to lecture 79-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein during a Judiciary Committee hearing this past week regarding the sale of assault rifles. Collins writes of Cruz:
"If you combine a lack of a sense of humor with an absence of humility and then stir in a cup of self-righteousness, you are definitely not working on a recipe for cooperative achievement."
Ah, yes, let's blame freshman Senator Cruz for a lack of "cooperative achievement." In this vein, consider what Olympia Snowe, one of the most moderate Republicans in Washington, had to say when explaining her retirement from the US Senate, i.e. before Cruz arrived on the scene (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/29/snowe-explains-decision-to-leave-defends-tough-criticism-of-senate/):
"People are just stunned by the debilitating partisanship, polarization and the overall dysfunction of the institution and political paralysis as we come, you know, to the point of extreme when it comes to resolving the problems facing our country."
And what did Snowe, one of three Republicans in the US Congress who voted for Obama's economic stimulus plan in 2009, have to say about President Obama? Snowe told Jonathan Karl that she has not had a face-to-face meeting with Obama in two years, and asked if she had to grade Obama on his willingness to work with Republicans, she replied that he would be "close to failing on that point" (see: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/frustrated-senator-olympia-snowe-gives-obama-f-101657433.html).
Yup, the US government is dysfunctional, but let's not blame Ted Cruz for that. There is someone else at whom Gail should be pointing her finger.
But I stray from the issue of gun control and a ban on assault rifles. I favor a ban on assault rifles; however, I also acknowledge that they are not the problem. Have a look at the data from the FBI on all murders from 2007 to 2011 (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8). In a nutshell, handguns (what Feinstein used to carry around with her) are far more of a problem than assault rifles. For that matter, between 2007 and 2011 clubs and hammers killed more persons than "rifles" (not just assault rifles), and knives killed four times more people than rifles. In all but one year, shotguns killed more people than rifles.
Shotguns? Recall what Vice President Biden had to say about shotguns in a recent interview with Field & Stream magazine (see: http://washingtonexaminer.com/more-advice-from-joe-biden-just-fire-the-shotgun-through-the-door/article/2522791):
"Well, the way in which we measure it is—I think most scholars would say—is that as long as you have a weapon sufficient to be able to provide your self-defense," Biden said. "I did one of these town-hall meetings on the Internet and one guy said, 'Well, what happens when the end days come? What happens when there’s the earthquake? I live in California, and I have to protect myself.'
I said, "Well, you know, my shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15, because you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door."
So just remember, should you accidentally kill the UPS man who arrived to deliver a package, or a Girl Scout who came to sell cookies, have your lawyer tell the court that none other than the Vice President of the United States told my client to "just fire the shotgun through the door."
On a more somber note, both Collins and Feinstein fail to understand that assault rifles are not the root of the problem. Rather, it is the violence inherent in American society, acknowledged by Feinstein, that is responsible for the rage and rampant killing.
Or as Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."