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America's New Year's Resolution: Gun Safety

The fantastical fears of the '50s and '60s have been replaced by the very real fears of the 21st century, writes our Moorestown columnist.

It was business as usual as I shared another New Year’s Eve with Rod Serling: He smoked, I ate my weight in cookies left over from the holiday baking orgy. It was inevitable we would find ourselves together again, Rod and I, since we’ve been a pre-midnight duo for at least 12 years.

For those of us growing up in the '50s and '60s, the Twilight Zone was our “must-see” TV. We were as obsessed with spacemen as young’uns today are smitten with vampires. We fretted about flying saucers. We practiced hiding under our desks and in coatrooms during frequent air raid drills at our sturdy brick schools. We envied our neighbor’s bomb shelter with its orderly rows of Campbell’s soups and olive-drab gas masks, and whined for one of our own.

On the last night of December 2012, I was paying intermittent attention to the Twilight Zone marathon. After all, I’ve probably seen each episode at least 20 times. This familiarity allows me to fold laundry, swill cocoa AND juggle bowling balls while focusing in every so often to watch as aliens abduct earthlings and Martians colonize Medford while everyone smokes Winstons.

Still, when “The Invaders” came on—the classic episode featuring Agnes Moorehead as a harried and isolated farmwoman being attacked by space men—I watched intently. It was like going back in time. I was a child again, sitting cross-legged on the floor with my brother, watching our black and white TV and rooting for the grunting woman to squash the evil spacemen. The big twist at the end of the episode shocked us. (spoiler alert!) It turned out the spacemen were actually U.S. astronauts, while she was a giantess from another planet. We shivered in fear—a fear that in 2013 seems almost laughable.

The Space Age that inspired and frightened us began with the Soviets launching the first satellite, Sputnik, on Oct. 4, 1957. Our feeling of U.S. superiority vanished and we were forced to play catch-up with the Ruskies. We launched our own satellite, the Explorer, on Jan. 31, 1958, and the great space race was on. And despite our fears of the unknown and aliens with anvil-shaped heads, it was an exhilarating time, a time when space colonization seemed not only possible but also highly probable. We fully expected to be living in sterile white cubes on Mars by the 21st century.

Our collective imaginations soared. Cowboys exploring the Wild West morphed into cowboys in silver-lame jumpsuits, exploring outer space, the Final Frontier. We traded in The Lone Ranger for Flash Gordon. Space exploration of the great unknown filtered into every aspect of our cultural lives: television, literature, movies and art. We had a common goal: to win the space race and reclaim our title as the most superior nation.

When was the last time we as a nation had a common goal?

There have been 734 gun deaths since the Newtown shootings on Dec. 14, yet rather than slowing down membership in the NRA, more than 100,000 new members have joined the ranks. On the flip side last week, we had shooting victim and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, announcing the formation of a political action committee (PAC) aimed at preventing continued gun violence.

Second Amendment zealots might be interested to know Giffords and Kelly support gun rights and still own two guns that are locked in a safe in their home. What they DON’T support is the public’s ability to purchase large-capacity magazines and assault weaponry, both of which were used at Sandy Hook Elementary, at the movie theater in Aurora AND in the shooting that left the congresswoman still struggling with speech issues, her vision and physical movement.

Sixty-some years later, our fears of big-headed aliens have been replaced by our fears that big egos in Washington cannot or will not move to take semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of average citizens. and wreak the same kind of bloodshed on our children. After all, are Roberts, Baker or South Valley that different from Sandy Hook? Is Moorestown High School vastly different from Columbine?

No one is advocating the abolishment of the Second Amendment. You want to own a gun or a rifle? Go for it—responsibly. I asked this question several columns ago: Why does an average citizen need a semi-automatic pistol, shotgun or rifle? If you can give me one reason why the guy next door should have an AK-47, I’d like to hear it. The anxiety of aliens wanting to colonize then consume us seems so innocent in our 21st century world of mass killings. I say give me an 8-foot-tall cyclops in a tasteful toga over an Uzi-toting shooter any day.

I say it’s time, at last, to have this be our national goal: stricter gun control laws. Vice President Joe Biden and his committee are advocating the biggest expansion of gun control laws in two decades. They want to enact an assault weapons ban, place limits on high-capacity magazines for ammo and they want every individual who purchases a gun to register their purchase, including buyers at gun shows. Interestingly, in a bid to make gun regulations more palatable to politicians and the public, Biden has shot down the term "gun control" in favor of the more innocuous term, "gun safety."

To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to, let gun safety be our national goal in 2013.

Another goal? Ban the silver-lame jumpsuit. It’s so unbecoming.

Tom January 14, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Homebrew, acquiring legal ammo is treason? What does that make acquiring illegal ammo and/or guns? Does my Glock 17, which is also widely used by law enforcement because of its 17 shot capacity, count as an "assault" weapon? For the record, Moorestown has armed police in our schools. Anyone complaining about that? Considering there are 88 guns per 100 citizens, you'd think based on all the anti gun attacks, we live in the wild wild west. You know where gun crimes are the worst? In Chicago, home of some of the strictest laws in the nation. Is that because criminals don't follow the law?
M'town Truth January 14, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Tom Lynch - HomeBrew accusing law-abiding citizens of "treason" is probably a good justification for owning weapons. It's just that kind of false accusation that makes people feel the need to protect themselves.
HomeBrew January 14, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Marsia: Thanks for addressing this topic. Suggest writing to U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan urging him to support common-sense restrictions on automatic and semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. https://runyan.house.gov/contact-me/email-me
M'town Truth January 14, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Did anyone notice the story about a man in Gloucester country being arrested for merely owning "illegal" weapons. He was given a $500,000 bail. Meanwhile, in Deptford, a police officer who murdered a friend was released on $250,000 bail. I guess this means that having the ability to harm someone is currently considered more heinous than actually murdering someone?
HomeBrew January 14, 2013 at 03:48 PM
To countenance armed insurrection against the U.S. government sounds treasonous to me. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe "seditious" is more accurate.
Pete January 14, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Rob, you ARE taking sides. M'town Truth is absoutly correct!
Pete January 14, 2013 at 03:51 PM
HomeBrew, it's not treason. "protect themselves from the government" is the reason for the 2nd.
Yah Mo B There January 14, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. – George Orwell
Pete January 14, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Hey Marsia, do you know that the six-shooters that sheriff Pat Garret, Bat Masterson etc carried were just as "semi-automatic" as the guns that you want to eliminate. Do you want to eliminate six-shooters as well? How many people can a deranged lunatic kill with a six-shooter? With a homemade bomb? With a machete by standing outside a school after hours of the exit of Cherry Hill Mall? With an ax? You should be proposing a system that would prevent those with serious mental problems from obtaining weapons. Like they say, guns don’t kill people, people kill people……………. Go after the people. I fully agree with extensive background checks for weapon purchasers. Here’s a good spot for a national database, but of course, that would violate privacy laws of Obamacare. Let’s have the countries psychiatrists report their patients with disorders to that database – why not? Irresponsible is putting dumber-than-a-rock Biden in charge of anything!
M'town Truth January 14, 2013 at 05:16 PM
The comment by Mr. Moderate concerning the size of my - or other legal gun owners'- genitalia showed up in my inbox, but not here for some reason. Perhaps because it was patently offensive? It is they typical response of the unprepared mind to attack ad hominem when a logical argument can't be made for a point of view. In case Mr. Moderate has a burning interest in the size of my genitalia, let me enlighten him. I have no such organ. I hope this puts your mind to rest, assuages your fears, and you can move on to considering the rational points of the debate.
Rob Scott (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Truth, The comment was immediately deleted by me, that's why you don't see it on the site. However, I can't undo the emails that are automatically sent to you. So let this just be a reminder to everyone who comments here: Be as passionate as you want, but keep the profanity and personal attacks off the site, or your comments will be deleted and—if you persist—your account suspended and/or blocked. No exceptions.
HomeBrew January 14, 2013 at 05:43 PM
You ask good questions and would be interested in your answers. For instance, which has the capability to be more lethal, an AR-15 outfitted with high-capacity clip or a machete?
M'town Truth January 14, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Let's also discuss the number of children killed by abortion. "If it can save one child..." is the refrain being shouted by the control freaks. Where are all the calls for abortion-control?
Buz Swanik January 14, 2013 at 06:58 PM
By the authors twisted logic we should actually blame the inanimate space suits for our fears and not the actual “invaders” who use the space suits. As follows, it’s the intimidating looking space suits that are the problem, not the “invaders.”
M'town Truth January 14, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Excellent use of logic, Buz!
Bill January 14, 2013 at 07:08 PM
@Homebrew - you forgot one of the key facts of the story. Many of those guns were sold at the urging of the US government. Ya know, the government you have absolutely no fear of ever doing anything wrong to you. "In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the "big fish." But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called "gunwalking," and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent."
M'town Truth January 14, 2013 at 10:12 PM
mtwnres - you forgot to mention that Fast and Furious was orchestrated precisely BECAUSE of the Obama regime's desire to fan the flames of anti-gun sentiment, in order to push through the global "UN Small Arms Treaty" which would remove governance of US citizens from the USA and hand it over to the UN.
G. Williams January 15, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Gun control folks seem to be stuck on automatic weapons and high capacity magazines as their primary concern so far. Albeit, there would likely be further gun prohibitions and controls to follow, and that is a real fear of legal gun owners. Let's discuss the realities of these weapons vs the average handgun of today. Any handgun owner with a little practice can fire and reload a ten round magazine about four times in one minute. I think it's fair to say that any nutcase or evil person bent on destruction can do so with little effort before being stopped by police. We rightfully concern ourselves over mental backround checks, but what about the person who snaps or has no history? What about the rage warriors who we don't know? What type or degree of mental issues makes one ineligible, and who decides that? We don't want to talk about any kind of security in our schools provided by trained employees or outside professionals even though 25 to 30% of our schools now have it. So, what method of deterence or kind of security would they recommend? I believe we are so distraught, and heartbroke over these attrocities that we feel helpless, and therefore must do something, anything. The problem with this thinking is believing that the simple answer is gun control.The media has brainwashed us with this idea using selective statistics. Realistically, at least part of the answer is in tasking the right professionals to research the problem and its' solution. So, why don't we?
HomeBrew January 15, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Putting aside the Obama-hating, NRA-fed fantasies, the sad and undeniable truth about Fast and Furious is that the gun used to kill the border agent was purchased legally by a straw buyer at an Arizona gun shop, then sold by the strawman, and wound up in Mexico. The real problem is the easy availability and illegal flow of lethal weapons from the US into Mexico. Address the real problem and we really will protect our border agents. This account of Fast and Furious is really worth reading. http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/06/27/fast-and-furious-truth/
Bill January 15, 2013 at 04:07 PM
That's a great article. Did you actually read it? I read about 3/4 of it and realized it's just the same theme over and over. I'll summarize for you. The government screwed up and agents died. The administration (Holder & ultimately Obama) gave these people a job to do, and then tied their hands behind their back. The group itself seems like a bunch of screwballs that fought with each other more than anything else. In the end, agents died. Now everyone is pointing fingers and lying to save their own skin. BTW- it doesn’t help your argument to post an article that backs up what I wrote. They watched as weapons were purchased, and then transported ( illegal) across the border to drug dealers for more than a year. When they did ask for indictments, the justice department denied them.
M'town Truth January 15, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Homebrew was hoisted by his own petard. Let me reiterate - the REASON for the Fast and Furious program was never to stop gun trafficking to Mexico (which would be as futile as the "War on Drugs" has been). It was an effort to demonize the private ownership of guns by pointing a finger at the "illegal sales" - which in actuality were being directed by Eric Holder's DOJ. When gun dealers reported these straw purchases, DOJ told them to allow them to continue. Homebrew - did you know that Mexico does not allow ANY private ownership of guns? Wonder how that's working out for them? "Mexico City – Mexico registered 27,199 murders in 2011, or 24 per 100,000 people, three times the murder rate since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, said Monday." By contrast, the USA had 10,996 murders in 2010 (2011 numbers not yet available). That equates to 4.7 per 100,000 people. The most dangerous cities for gun violence in the USA are: New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, Newark, St. Louis, Miami, Richmond, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. Just by "coincidence" they all have Democrat mayors.
Pete January 15, 2013 at 05:21 PM
GW: our leader has put the most brilliant mind in the government (dumb-like-a-rock Biden) in charge of finding a solution. I think it will become public later today. Psychological background of Nidal Malik Hasan was clear in the USAF personal files and records, being described as disconnected, aloof, paranoid, belligerent, and schizoid. Political correctness kept it buried. Now 12 of our nation’s finest soldiers are buried. Adam Lanza was known to be unbalanced, but no one tried to control him. His stupid mother knew he was mentally weak and still kept guns in her house (and taught him how to shoot) - 26 people are dead. University of Colorado at Denver doctor decided that James Holmes should not be evaluated by mental health professionals because he was “in process of withdrawing from school”. Twelve people die at the theater. Besides the deranged perpetrators, there are many other folks equally complicit in the terror and deaths they caused. Holmes could have used his bombs to kill more than 12 people – would dummy Biden then propose legislation that the internet be closed and that libraries be closed so the nuts can’t learn how to make bombs? The solution is so obvious that I’ll not even explain it – but it is certainly not gun control…………..
M'town Truth January 15, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Nobody anywhere is talking about the real, underlying problem that is creating violence in our society. That is the lack of meaning in people's lives. Children are being raised in a way that protects them from any and all challenges. No pain - no pain! is the new mantra in our society. We human beings are "hard-wired" to search for challenge and meaning in our lives. With little to strive for, and no spiritual/moral meaning to derive from our daily lives, we turn to easy thrills instead. Jump from a plane, ski off the edge of a mountain, take out a bunch of people at a movie theatre. This may sound simplistic, but at the heart of our societal malaise is the absence of meaning and real challenge in our lives.
Bill January 15, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Let me guess. You have a problem with "participation" trophys and the banning of red pens in schools too ? ;)
M'town Truth January 15, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Let me guess - you love "participation trophies" and hate red pens, right?
HomeBrew January 15, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Really recommend the Fortune article, where you'll read passages like this: : "Some call it the "parade of ants"; others the "river of iron." The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking within the U.S., so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one." After the Sandy Hook school massacre, the NRA very publicly championed a national comprehensive database of the mentally ill, yet the organization opposes a national electronic database for gun sales. Let's hope any new federal gun rules and regs will establish such a database and include laws outlawing of arms trafficking. http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/06/27/fast-and-furious-truth/
M'town Truth January 15, 2013 at 06:27 PM
If the only kind of reward you have in your life is a "participation trophy" you cling to it very tightly, right, res?
Bill January 15, 2013 at 06:47 PM
@Homebrew - why stop with just that quote ? I like these "By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney's office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect." "As political pressure has mounted, ATF and Justice Department officials have reversed themselves. After initially supporting Group VII agents and denying the allegations, they have since agreed that the ATF purposefully chose not to interdict guns it lawfully could have seized. Holder testified in December that "the use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable, and it must never happen again." "Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands." "Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. " Everyone lying to cover up the murder of a Border Agent due to government screw ups. Hey, but go ahead and trust them if it makes you feel all warm and safe. I'm sure they'd never do anything to you.
HomeBrew January 15, 2013 at 11:18 PM
GW: You know politics and government. You know how it works. It's all about where you draw the line. Right now, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity clips are legal. But public opinion, shaped by recent tragic events, says it's time to move the line. Three-quarters of NJ voters agree, according to a recent FDU poll. http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2013/guns/ Common sense says a semi-automatic loaded with a 33-round magazine will kill more people faster (heaven forbid, knock on wood, name of the Father, etc ... ) than a semi-automatic loaded with, let's say, a three-shot magazine. Time to move the line and strictly limit the size of magazines. Seems reasonable.
M'town Truth February 22, 2013 at 01:57 PM
If you care about keeping your second amendment rights, you may want to sign this petition which rejects the attempts of the NJ assembly to take them from you. http://www.change.org/petitions/nj-assemblyman-lou-greenwald-50-000-responsible-nj-gun-owners-opposed-poorly-crafted-legislation?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

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