By Sam Pollak
The Daily Star
---- — “Tuck this column you wrote away in your scrapbook ... it will one day prove to be a source of great embarrassment for you.”
While those words would be very good advice for just about everything I write, in this instance they were online comments written in the aftermath of a column I wrote back in February opining that law-abiding folks were in no danger of the government taking away their guns.
As I mentioned in a subsequent column, that logical-enough assertion engendered more than 200 online opinions, some of which were rather strident in a one-sided debate over whether my parents had been married to each other.
Since that column was about nine months ago, plenty of time to — among other things — create a human being, let’s tally up how many guns the government has confiscated from any American who legally owns one, two ... or for that matter, 200.
We’ll take the square root of Pi, consider the Pythagorean theorem about the square of the length of the hypotenuse being equal to something or other, absolute value making a negative number positive, the price of eggs in Tahiti, whatever else you might want to come up with, and the total will still be the same.
Not even one.
Last year, the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers revved up their propaganda machines and got folks all farschimmelt and terrified that the re-election of President Barack Obama would mean everybody’s guns were going to be seized by government stormtroopers.
Hoarding got so bad that bullets were in short supply all over the country. I wrote last year that the NRA and arms merchants were playing everybody for suckers. They were darned good at it, too.
On Black Friday in 2012, there were 154,873 calls to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s call centers for gun purchases. According to the Huffington Post, the agency reported 17,238,102 background checks this year through Oct. 31.
So, while the gun and bullet manufacturers reaped their bounty and the NRA was able to fend off meaningful gun control legislation because of its amen chorus in Congress, not one legal firearm was confiscated.
Meanwhile, with the first anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., massacre that killed 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School only a week away, a Centers for Disease Control estimated average of 90 Americans die of gun violence every single day.
A recent Huffington story noted that executives at outdoor recreation retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods and Cabela’s have told analysts that firearms sales have “slowed” lately.
Maybe some gun enthusiasts have wised up a bit. I’d like to think so.
I’m not referring to the hunters who work for conservation, provide venison for their families and food banks and keep down the number of deer that endanger our vehicles on the road.
I’m also not referring to the parent who passes down a heritage of responsible gun ownership to his or her children or the people who feel the need for a firearm to defend themselves and their property.
But I just might be referring to those who feel they’re deprived of their constitutional rights if they don’t own six semi-automatic AR-15 rifles like the one a maniac used to murder all those little kids in Newtown. And I might be referring to those who are stocking up for what they feel (or hope) will be an apocalyptic race war or a revolt against the federal government.
And I might be referring to those who are still claiming that the president is going to take away their guns.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told Huffington that the primary reason for the annual Black Friday rush for firearms is that gun-owners are “nervous” about Obama confiscating their weapons.
Meanwhile, the fear-mongering goes on.
“The reality is that in America, fewer people are owning more guns,” Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control group, told Huffington. “They have to keep marketing to (gun owners) to buy more weapons.”
So it would appear that these could be challenging times for the weapons merchant propagandists. But they shouldn’t worry too much. Chances are Hillary Clinton will be running for president soon, and they can get everyone all worked up again with nonsense about another potential president who will take away their guns.
And I’ll have another “source of great embarrassment” to tuck away in my scrapbook.
Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.