Columns » Bob Lancaster

Guns for everyone

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When he wasn't at the St. Louis zoo getting bit by a penguin last week, Newt Gingrich was across town berating the National Rifle Association for being too timid in its advocacy of gun ownership and gun use.

Newt wants everybody in the United States everywhere in the United States to be armed and ready to stand their ground, meaning ready to blow somebody's head off that looks at them funny. He wants more guns rather than fewer, and he'd revoke just about all the restrictions on them.

But that's not all he wants. Hell, that's standard NRA stroking and hardly newsworthy. Newt would go Cold Dead Hands one better, though, by extending Second Amendment lock-and-load rights not only to everybody in the country but to everybody in the world. Man, woman, child, hermaphrodite — although I'm not sure about the hermaphrodites. Black, white, yellow, brown, red. Turk, Swede, Tutsi. Newt is a pretty fanatical Christian when he remembers that he is, so under his scheme Christians might get better ammunition than Buddhists or Hindus or Mormons, or some similar advantage or perk, but even scoffer heathens would get the basic endowment. Frogs would. Ragheads. Psychos.

Pacifists would get arms whether they wanted them or not. So would castrati. Yellow-bellies. Ghandhites. Peaceniks. I don't know about fetuses.

In the Newt vision, if you're an Australian aborigine, you'd have a right to carry a gun — and not just to shoot wallabies instead of harvesting them by boomerang. With a mandatory Stand Your Ground rider, you could shoot Crocodile Dundee long as you claimed self-defense. Of course he'd have the same right to shoot you — he'd likely demur on the machete, homicide from it being harder to justify — but even with all the countless unending universal Mexican standoffs at least the gun-playing field would be leveler than it is now. The system we have in place now, in many countries half the time they treat you like a common criminal if you shoot somebody for sport or payback or target practice or because God told you to. Like you had a choice.

Muslim women wouldn't have to put up with nearly as much of the macho crap if you didn't know whether Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson were lurking there under every single burka in the seraglio. Where Khrushchev could only pound the podium with his shoe, any deposed butcher or aggrieved hedge-fund manager who wanted to address a plenary UN session could get the floor just by gatting off a few ahem bursts ceilingward. Castro would get a new gun, but so would every embittered anti-Fidel whose only satisfaction now is in driving around the presidential palace letting his derelict Plymouth Fury backfire.

If the U.S. Supreme Court felt obliged to intrude upon this new state of affairs, well, seven billion filled hands might persuade them to desist.

But dare I say there might be implementation problems?

Soon as everybody on earth gets their gun and authorization to fire it at will — whichever one is Will — then won't we be right back where we started, at Square One? The hombre who has only one gun will be at the mercy of whoever has two. And both of them will cower at the approach of the bully with the handgun, the shotgun, the squirrel rifle, the machine gun, some hand grenades, and perhaps a tank.

Hard to go up agin' a tank with just a roscoe. It can be done, but as a practical matter, you might as well be packing a chrysanthemum.

Two guns are better than one against a half-track, if one of them is a bazooka, but is Newt's Second Amendment extension going to include a bazooka for everybody in the world, too? OK, say it does. Everybody in the world gets a handgun, some long guns, and a bazooka. And even if you don't live in a gated community, you're authorized to off any suspicious-looking passerby wearing a hoodie. But what if the next hoodied passerby makes his pass in an F-22 Raptor fighter jet with its entire spread locked in on your pitiful-ass one-gun gluteus maximus?

And what if the hoodied guy after him commands a whole squadron of F-22s, and they're all armed with nuclear warheads, plus he can call in drones, cruise missiles, and assassin Navy Seals to take out your entire watch posse before you can wave a hankie? Is it the answer to continue escalating the balance of gun terror until we've furnished you and everybody else in the world with a personal arsenal that begins with your basic liquor-store burner and ranges up to and includes your own wristworn atomic bomb like the one the predator in "Predator" self-destructed with?

Every starving child in the Sudan would have a handgun and an atomic bomb under the Newt initiative. They might try to eat them, but that would be their business, not yours. More likely they'd swap one or the other for a goat. Or both of them for two goats. Somebody would have to procure and supply all those A-bombs and I'm sure Dick Cheney would volunteer Halliburton for the task, probably at no more of a profit than $10 or $20 quadrillion, or all the money in the world, whichever was greater.

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