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H. BRUCE RINKER: The Politics of Paranoia

I am the son of a long-line of Virginia farmers and hunters who believe that our children should be taught the proper use of firearms for their own safety and that of others. At no point did ever we consider that our personal arsenals should include assault weapons like those used in recent massacres in schools, streets, malls, churches, and synagogues throughout America.

Instead, we believed that these military-style firearms, designed to fire rapidly, are a threat to our national security and should remain in the hands of trained military and law enforcement personnel.

Owners of such killing machines are not born with an innate respect for, nor knowledge about them. They require specialized training and regulation, not unlike driving a car or flying a plane. The criminal users of these weapons all-too frequently act out a murderous psychosis like they’re living a video game divorced from the pain and human suffering in the carnage caused by their unregulated use.

Originally, the medieval term, “Sanctuary City” was a place of protection for refugees and asylum seekers who were fleeing for their lives. Now some gun rights advocates have perverted the term into one laden with foolishness and paranoia.

To choose the name of “Sanctuary City” is to endorse madness and evil as a profane misappropriation of a term originally meant to offer solace and hope. It’s like what Hallmark did to Christmas, Easter, and Passover. It trivializes the Sacred. And it anesthetizes good people to the scars of violence.

In the context of so-called gun rights to promote any community as a “Sanctuary City,” is a vulgar ploy to justify the paranoia of the NRA. Gun ownership is already protected by our Constitution. No one is advocating that ordinary defense and hunting guns be confiscated by anyone!

The “Sanctuary City” movement for assault weapons and ammunition is a misguided attempt by the gun lobby to foment anger and distrust among communities across the Commonwealth and the rest of America. Instead, let’s advocate their donation to those law officers and the military who protect us.

It’s time to re-sacralize the term, “Sanctuary City,” as a place of safety for the truly poor, downtrodden, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

The NRA is a self-serving lobbying group that needs to feed its revenue streams to support the hefty annual compensation of its president: more than $2.2 million in 2018!

Its incumbent fiscal strategy seems to whip up a conspiracy that there’s an all-out attack on our Second Amendment rights. It’s a story filled with paranoia straight off the pages of history from the Joe McCarthy 1950’s Red Scare brouhaha. So why not prey on unfounded fears by manufacturing a boogeyman?

Most Americans want to see Congress pass gun restrictions- among Democrats, Republicans, and gun owners. We’re all sickened by the slaughter of innocents in our schools, malls, and the roadways of America. Who wants rapid-fire assault weapons, tanks, and missiles on our streets, in our schools, places of worship, and downtown businesses?

Yes, we need to regulate gun control and ownership, honor our Constitutional guarantees, and not crawl darkly into paranoia.

During a Christmas family gathering, one of my relatives, nodding sheepishly in my direction, asked another, “Do you think they’re going to try to take our guns?” My mother had already given her firm directive about our family meal: “No politics! The holidays are about what we share, not how we differ!” She only had to glare at him, so he stopped at once and he rejoined the family in mousy conversation. Later he withdrew for a hurried smoke on the front porch.

The so-called “Sanctuary City” movement is perverse and one filled with distrust and hate for the Other.

I recommend that all proposals to establish “Sanctuary Cities” for gun control need to be strongly resisted as excessive and profane.

H. Bruce Rinker, Ph.D., is a forest ecologist, science educator, and explorer. He is also the author of of A Pearl in the Brain: The Cancer Journey of a Scientist in His Search for the Seat of the Soul. He may be reached at [email protected].

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