I used to live in Portland, and I remember the Clackamas Town Center being the most festive shopping mall I had ever visited. It had a ice rink where I saw Tonya Harding practice—a big attraction in the early 1990s. So I was shocked to read that there was a shooting rampage at the mall this afternoon. Shocked because it hit uncomfortably close to home, not because I was shocked about yet another mass shooting in our vast bastion of gun owners’ rights. There is, after all, a mass shooting here every five days.
I know: crazy people do crazy things; evil people do evil things; stupid people do stupid things. But it is interesting that this shooting happened on the very day that, “The Seventh Circuit overturned Illinois’ law forbidding concealed-carry of handguns—the last remaining law in the whole country against concealed carry.” Now I know what many of you are thinking, “But these permits are only given out to responsible adults!” My tendency is to say that you ought to tell that to Trayvon Martin, and leave it at that. But for me, it is a little more personal.
I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are what I would call gun fanatics. They broadly fall into two categories (although there is overlap): hunters and paranoids. I don’t too much dig on hunting, but whatever; some people need more to be content than a fine English translation of Don Quixote; I understand. But the paranoids? They’re dangerous. They really think that their guns are going to keep them safe and they are eager to find (or force) a situation in which they can prove it. Add to this the very common spice of libertarianism, and you end up bitter enders who think they are the last line of freedom from the coming Brown Shirts. I actually share some of their concerns, but given that they think the socialist hellscape has already arrived, I don’t have much faith in their judgement. And that is the primary issue.
If you weed out those people who truly need a gun for their jobs (I’m being liberal here), what you are left with is mostly a bunch of my paranoid friends with concealed carry permits. You know: people like George Zimmerman. Mostly, these people are a bigger threat to themselves than they are to anyone else. But that isn’t the critical issue. I’m all for allowing people to make their own mistakes that harm themselves. But I’m not for allowing their paranoia and negligence to harm 7-year-old boys—for one almost random example.
So I’m willing to grant everything: people shouldn’t be stupid; or evil; or crazy. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. I grant you everything. But clearly there is a problem. If we should keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, there are things we could do. But the NRA opposes this. If we should keep guns out of the hands of evil people, there are things we could do. But the NRA opposes this. If we should keep guns out of the hands of stupid people, there are things we could do. But the NRA opposes this.
As long as gun owners continue to support the wackjob National Rifle Association, then nothing will be done. As long as the media refuse to honestly engage this issue, things will get worse. As long as gun owners refuse to admit there is a problem, people will continue to die unnecessarily. I grant you everything but this: you are culpable.
I do understand the philosophy of the NRA. I even agree with it. But it is an extremist philosophy. It is only a small group that should constantly be pushing the envelope of acceptable law. When a group as big as the NRA is this extreme, we get bad policy. And hey, we have bad policy. The NRA members can change this because they are much more reasonable than the group itself. If you are a member, ask yourself: do I know what the NRA is doing with the money I send it. It may well shock you.
 Frankly, guns don’t kill people; bullets kill people; I don’t really have a problem with guns; it’s the bullets that are a menace.