By Roger Barbee
In thinking of the carnage in Newtown, I recalled a science fiction short story by Robert Sheckley. In "The Gun Without a Bang," Sheckley tells the story of Dixon, an astronaut who sees armaments as the way to victory.
In Dixon's mind, the winning of the American West was nothing but a struggle between bows and arrows and the Colt. Dixon is sent to explore a small planet, and is given a new weapon to try out. His new weapon does not fire a bullet, but disintegrates matter in a cone-shaped flare.
It makes no noise, but kills silently.
Shortly after landing on the planet, Dixon is set upon by wild animals like monkeys. He uses his new weapon, but in doing so discovers that without a noise, the attacking animals do not sense the danger.
In his panic, he mistakenly disables his spaceship and its communication hardware. He is stranded and surrounded by animals that have no fear of his disintegrator. Sometime later, a rescue operation is sent to see what has happened to Dixon on the isolated planet. He is found alive, rather well in fact, and using the disintegrator as a hammer to drive in posts for a palisade to protect him from the wild beasts. He has also made spears and bows and arrows for effective weapons to protect himself.
The new, most powerful weapon proved too good, so good it was useless but as a hammer.
Not knowing much about guns, I went online to read about Adam Lanza's weapon of choice. Named after a deadly pit viper in Central and South America, the Bushmaster lives up to its namesake. Fast. Deadly. Several websites selling this weapon remind shoppers that, "You can shoot as well as a member of a SWAT team or a Navy Seal."
The Bushmaster is one of many weapons available to any person with the money. Have we weapons in our midst that are like Dixon's disintegrator, weapons we can't control? Have we weapons too powerful and too deadly for the average citizen to own?
One item always mentioned in the debate concerning gun control is the Second Amendment and the interpretation of it by modern readers.
Some read it as an absolute right to own guns for protection, while others read it as a clause related to the First Amendment's mention of a militia. If we read the Constitution as those who practice Original Intent, then we need to understand it in the language of the Founding Fathers. When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, muskets were the guns used for protection, I offer that any private citizen be granted what he or she reads as a Constitutionally given right: own the musket and join a local militia run by local police. In that way a citizen can serve our country.
Why do we need weapons like Bushmasters?