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1875, 1:35PM - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez hanged in San Jose [story]

Out of Left Field | Commentary by Charlie Vignola
| Monday, Jan 21, 2013

charlievignolaIt has become increasingly clear to me that the NRA no longer stands for “National Rifle Association,” but rather for “Not Rational Americans.” If you’re even paying the slightest attention to the NRA’s behavior and the attitude of right-wing gun owners in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, you’ll know what I mean.

Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, holds a press conference where his best idea for dealing with school shootings is to arm teachers. Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, said if slaves had been given the right to bear arms, then maybe slavery wouldn’t have happened.

You’d think these were headlines straight out of the satirical newspaper The Onion, but no, they were being dead serious.

There was an old “All in the Family” episode where Archie Bunker appeared on the local news to give his two cents on how to stop airplane hijackings. “All you gotta do,” suggested Archie, “is arm all the passengers.” By Archie’s logic, if everyone on the plane had a gun, skyjackings would disappear overnight. I suspect Wayne LaPierre and Larry Ward wouldn’t get the joke.

Everyone knows the old saying that when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail – but the NRA’s insistence that the only rational move to deal with the 300 million guns already in this country is to add more guns is insanity of the highest order.

To sell this stupid idea, the NRA recently ran an ad outrageously suggesting that President Obama was a hypocrite for not wanting armed guards at schools when his own children are defended by armed guards 24/7.

This is a prime example of what’s called a “false equivalence,” basically a fancy term for comparing apples to oranges, a favorite rhetorical tool of the right. You know, Obama’s also entitled to fly in Air Force One and take vacations on the taxpayers’ dime; is he a hypocrite because he can do this and you can’t?

It should be obvious to anyone who’s not mentally handicapped that Obama’s kids are exposed to a different level of danger than average American school kids; therefore they’re entitled to a different level of security.

To give you an idea, after Obama was elected in 2008, death threats against the president went up 400 percent. He still gets around 30 death threats per day, making him the most threatened president in U.S. history.

Now, unless you can claim the same terrifying threat level for yourself, then no, your kids aren’t entitled to the same level of security as President Obama. And if you still think you are, then you’re a certified paranoid.

Which brings me to a very important point: There’s a dangerously paranoid streak that runs through the NRA and the type of gun owners who’ve been vocal in the media in the wake of Sandy Hook.

If you ask average gun owners why they want to possess a firearm, you generally get two answers.

The first is that it’s their constitutional right under the Second Amendment. If you’ve bothered to read this one-sentence amendment, it clearly frames the right to bear arms within the context of allowing for a “well regulated militia.” The modern NRA wants to ignore the “militia” clause, but sorry: It’s right there at the beginning of the amendment, and it’s not there for decoration but for clarity.

The second reason people give for wanting to own a firearm is self defense. But just for a moment, think what this says about gun owners: It means they fully expect that at some point in their lives, they’ll be the victim of a crime that will require a literal Dirty Harry-style confrontation where they’ll have the judgment, reflexes and presence of mind to be able to injure or kill another human being, while hoping they don’t injure or kill themselves or other innocent people in the process.

As a comparison, when New York police officers are engaged in a gunfight with perpetrators who aren’t firing back, the hit rate is on average 30 percent – and when the bad guys are firing back, the hit rate drops to 18 percent. That’s for well-trained New York City cops. Do you really think if a crack head breaks into your home at 3 a.m. and you’re half-awake and you’ve got to find your loaded gun in the dark, your results will be better?

Another, darker reason for gun ownership was expressed quite clearly by conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan: that the guns are there to fight back against the U.S. government if it ever becomes a tyranny. “1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms,” an unhinged Jones screamed to a gobsmacked Morgan.

That kind of over-the-top paranoia used to be resigned to crank newsletters found in old bookstores and the darker corners of the Internet, but now it’s right out in the open and reinforced by libertarians and tea party groups – the same “patriots” who revere the Founding Fathers but deeply distrust the government they created.

Look. If one of the reasons you need assault rifles and mountains of ammo is because you truly believe that within your lifetime you may be fighting in the streets, swept up in a violent rebellion against the U.S. government, that level of cartoonish paranoia alone should disqualify you from ever possessing a firearm.

When you think about it, even the NRA’s signature slogan – “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” – is a ghoulish, unsettling motto, one that suggests firearms are so important to someone that you’ll have to kill them to get them to give it up. Does that sound like something a rational person would say?

Is there any other inanimate object you could imagine saying that about without sounding like an unhinged lunatic?

President Obama held a press conference last week where he made some perfectly reasonable suggestions about how to diminish the scourge of gun violence in America, including universal background checks; banning assault rifles and high capacity clips; and creating stiffer penalties for gun trafficking and lying on paperwork to acquire a firearm. Perhaps none of those would have stopped Sandy Hook, but so what? They’re smart ideas and long overdue.

If common-sense steps like these are inspiring this level of rage among gun owners and threats to impeach the president for acting like a monarch, then I’d submit that those people are way too paranoid to trust with firearms in the first place.

Here’s the deal. The status quo is over, new regulations are on the way, and screaming “they’re coming to take our guns” just makes you sound like a creepy nutcase. We had an assault weapons ban in 1994 and it didn’t lead to a second civil war, so take a deep breath and relax.

Sandy Hook was a shattering tragedy for the American psyche, second only to 9/11 in recent history. But after 9/11 we felt justified spending trillions, starting two wars, killing thousands of innocent civilians overseas, strip-searching passengers at airports, torturing people in secret prisons and illegally wiretapping Americans to gain a sense of security.

In the month after Sandy Hook, more than 1,000 other Americans have been killed by guns. If you truly believe the best we can do to stem the tide of gun violence is to put even more guns into the hands of untrained civilians, then in my humble opinion you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a deadly weapon.


Charlie Vignola describes himself as a former College Republican turned liberal Democrat.  A resident of the Santa Clarita Valley since 1999, he works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.



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  1. spkr3136 says:

    you have obviously never opened a history book in your entire sheltered spoiled life. This level of arrogant pacifism is only possible because many years ago somebody was fighting for their freedom to speak freely, in the steet, with weapons of war that a governement did not want them to have. Shame on you traitor.

  2. It sad you dont understand the 2nd protects the 1st you use today freely.

  3. brentondadams says:

    The indivdual right to keep and carry arms in not connected to any service in any militia. The Supreme Court has hashed this out twice now in the last decade.
    Does that make you feel better?

  4. JasonC says:

    The writer of this piece just needs to be mugged once, then maybe he’ll get it. Americans are victims of violent crimes 16000 times per day. Every day. You can look it up at the FBI. Or you could just walk outside sometime, outside you gated community.

    No, you can’t have our guns, and insulting us isn’t going to help your case.

  5. CCSir says:

    …..and you are too ignorant to be trusted with the 1st Amendment that my 2nd Amendment protects.

  6. Danny says:

    Another ignorant gun fearing bed wetting leftist gives his opinion.. lol

  7. George Posten says:

    Mr. Vignola, first of all I would like to thank you for sharing your well-framed opinion. I read it with interest at many levels.

    I describe myself as one whose eyes tear up every time he hears news of another senseless murder. ‘Wouldn’t it be great if all human wickedness could be solved by forever banning all weapons including rocks?’ -I guess that thought is also a false-equivalence on my part.


    I think that I have never seen anything people are more passionate about than then issue of guns -except perhaps politics, religion, sports… Anyway, I don’t think we need to repeatedly affix an insulting label such as “paranoid” to any group.

    Different level of security?

    I was taught that all lives are equally valuable and therefore all children, not just the president’s children, indeed all people, should be entitled to the same level of security, regardless that the threat may be greater for some than for others.

    Gun laws:

    Of course we need sensible gun laws. Unfortunately, when it comes to stemming the tide of gun violence I’m sure these laws will work as well as prohibition, the war on drugs, and stemming the tide of illegal immigration -not to mention the no cell phone while driving laws.

    And while we are creating laws to reasonably limit the second amendment I think we need to include a few more restrictions on the first amendment, including no more murder, gruesome gore, gratuitous violence, and especially no GUN violence in movies or television, except in documentary form where it can be verified that these accurately portray historical events. Also, I would call for an immediate ban on all forms of violent video entertainment, on the grounds that these serve as a ‘virtual’ tool for would-be terrorist training.

    I WILL GLADLY GIVE UP MY GUN when everyone else is disarmed and I can be assured that the police will instantly be there to protect me when a crack addict breaks into my house at 3AM… In the meantime I shall clobber him with the lamp.

  8. Cisco says:

    On the same day of the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook a man in China stabbed 20 children, so it is not the guns that are the problem but unbalanced people with murder in their hearts looking for an available tool

  9. Reason says:

    The idiocy that spews forth from liberals, such as this
    writer, about guns is astounding.
    Nothing proves that more than when they distort our Constitution in an
    attempt to give validity to their warped claim.
    This writer tries to justify restricting the individual’s right to bear
    arms by claiming the 2nd amendment points to that right in the form
    of a “well regulated militia”. Many of our founding fathers have made it
    clear that they granted the “right to bear arms” for self protection while the militia
    refers to the ability of the individual armed citizen’s to coalesce and form a
    group to defend the nation. The modern
    NRA doesn’t “overlook” this as the writer suggests, they understand the correct
    meaning. Ironically, what the liberal
    anti-gun crowd always purposefully overlooks is the last part of the 2nd
    amendment – “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be
    infringed.” Another thing this writer
    forgets is that the President works for “we the people” so if it is considered
    good enough for his children to have armed protection at school then it is good
    enough for the people he works for. Just
    another example of have liberals bow down to government and not the individual.

  10. Realist says:

    Charlie Vignola needs to leave the shelter of Valencia and come out to the real world in Lancaster and Palmdale where he will have to WHEN, not if, he will be the victim of a home invasion robbery.

  11. Realist says:

    Charlie Vignola needs to leave the shelter of Valencia and come out to
    the real world in Lancaster and Palmdale where he will have to wonder WHEN, not
    if, he will be the victim of a home invasion robbery.

  12. ascetic43 says:

    You should be ashamed of your willful blindness and support for lawlessness. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are the only reason you’re not a dirt-farming Chinese slave. You’re a traitor to this country, and should be ashamed of yourself. I can see I’m not the only one who feels this way. Nobody want’s “gun control”, they want a monopoly on violence for the small group of elitist monsters at Mordor on the patomic. Shame on you….

  13. ascetic43 says:

    “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.” It’s really that simple. The Constitution doesn’t tell us what we CAN do, it tells Government what they CAN’T do. Who gives G it’s “power”? God? Bloodline? Paternity? Unicorns? The consent of the PEOPLE give them their power, period. WE DO NOT CONSENT to being disarmed by murdering thugs. Do you know how any innocent children Obama is responsible for killing with drones? Whole weddings and funerals. But this is “for the children”. Wake up you idiot….

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