April 21, 2024

America needs to face its blood-soaked relationship with guns

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News Sentinel

To paraphrase Bob Dylan: How many deaths will it take ’til we know that too many children have died? 

Not only children but also teachers. And shoppers. And church members, moviegoers, office workers, country music fans. And legions of others mowed down by mass murderers. 

Perhaps a clue to this mystery can be found in the title, and the refrain, from Dylan’s famous song of the Sixties: The answer is blowing in the wind. 

Meaning what exactly? 

Here’s part of what the author himself said in 1962, when his song was published in the music journal Sing


“There ain’t too much I can say…except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group … Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some … But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know … And then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old … you people over 21, you’re older and smarter.” 

Wrong on that last count, Mr. Dylan. The people over 21 weren’t smarter then. Nor are they now. 

If they were more intelligent — not to mention more responsible and less afraid/stubborn to face this horror head-on — America wouldn’t be nearly so blood-soaked and bullet-ridden. There wouldn’t be thousands of grieving parents. There wouldn’t be crosses on school grounds. Verily, our strange institution defies explanation. 

One possible way to find the answer is through the process of elimination: Identify what isn’t working. 

  Watering down, even eliminating, requirements governing the purchase and carry of guns isn’t working. 

Arming guards at stores and schools isn’t working. 

Pro-gun zealots and anti-gun zealots screaming at each other on radio and TV isn’t working. 

Constitutional rights come with equal and reasonable responsibilities. As I type these words, Republicans and Democrats are vowing to sit down together and try to reach common ground on workable reforms. By the time these words appear in print, we’ll see how sincere and successful, or otherwise, these efforts are progressing. 

Maybe that fictive answer Bob Dylan alluded to will “come down some.” If so, let’s hope someone a lot smarter than we’ve been to date will pick it up, before it blows away once more in the wind. Or the muzzle blast of an AR-15. 

Sam Venable’s column appears every Sunday. Contact him at sam.venable@outlook.com.

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