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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Alerted by dogs, my neighbor took down a deer rifle, and confronted his shotgun-toting assailant, who jumped into his truck and threw it into reverse. He died at the wheel. Prosecutors charged the shooter with murder, but the case never came to trial.

There would have been no point. Everybody I talked to around here basically said the same thing: “What’s he supposed to do, wait for the crazy sumbitch to sneak up on him again?”

My sentiments exactly.

In short, a sorrowful tragedy. But even in telling the story as sparely as possible, it’s almost impossible to prevent a kind of tough-guy romanticism from sneaking in. The kind of false bravado that makes cartoonish revenge comedies like the “Dirty Harry,” “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon” series such characteristically American cultural artifacts.

The same kind of false bravado that has persuaded Bushmaster Firearms to advertise its .223 caliber AR-15 rifle—slayer of 20 first-graders, six teachers and one mother—with a stark black and white photo of the weapon propped on an oversized ammunition magazine and the slogan: “Consider your man card reissued.”

Seriously now, how pathetic is that?

Prove your manhood by plunking down $1,200-1,500 for a deadly toy. Was this Nancy Lanza’s hope for her cowardly son? We’ll never know.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that even in wealthy Newtown, there’s a political struggle between gun hobbyists and citizens seeking restrictions on shooting ranges. “These are not normal guns that people need,” one member of the police commission said. “These are guns for an arsenal, and you get lunatics like this guy who goes into a school fully armed and protected to take return fire. We live in a town, not in a war.”

If the phrase “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment means anything, they’re surely not guns that Americans need. They’re military weapons with no legitimate civilian uses; they’re cult objects, fetishes.

“What choice do we have?” President Obama asked at the memorial service for Newtown’s dead. “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

Prayerfully, we are not.

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