A scary story in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where a loaded gun was found sitting in a box in the toy aisle of a Target store.  The police report states that a suspicious man was stalking up and down the aisles of the store, and he was likely the one who left the weapon behind.  The Myrtle Beach police are currently seeking the last registered owner of the gun for questioning.

This story has now started making the rounds on social media, and naturally, the blame is being placed on…those who support gun control.  Yep.  The reposts of the story are filled with outrage about how low the “gun control fanatics” will stoop.  Because, you know, it’s obvious that the gun was planted on purpose so that a child would shoot itself or someone else, and so that guns could be blamed and more oppressive gun restrictions could be passed.

I can think of a lot of reasons why a mentally unbalanced or criminal person might leave a gun in that store.  Most likely, the gun was stolen, and this was a convenient place to try to hide it, since it would blend in with the toy guns.  The Target worker who found the gun stated that he did not realize it was a real gun until closer examination, so this makes sense.  Or perhaps there was mental illness involved, the sort of mental illness that would consider this a fun prank or a satisfying way to find revenge against humankind.

But once you start saying that a pro-gun control person left it there on purpose, you start veering into conspiracy theory territory.  And once you veer into the territory of strange theories, you have to offer evidence that what you’re talking about might be true.  So far there is no proof whatsoever of the “gun control fanatics!!!” side of the story.  And the people I know who support gun control want less gun violence, not more, so they would never resort to these kinds of tactics.  It will be interesting to see what emerges from this incident.

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When you go on a journey, you discover that the world is full of dangerous people.  My life has been no different.  I’ve come far and faced off against many villains.

For example, when I was a child, I was told that evil American capitalists wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on me.  But then I moved to a different land and found out that it was, in fact, evil Russian Communists who wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on me.  That was confusing, but then things got even more complicated.

When I lived by the northern European seas, abortion and gay rights were considered good things, and anybody who opposed them was strange.  But when I lived in the American desert, I learned that abortion and homosexuality were sins, and anybody who supported them was immoral.  Now I live by the Pacific Ocean, and once again it’s those who are too religious and too traditional that are suspect.  I’m having a hard time keeping track of all this.  Maybe it would be easier for me to tell the good guys and the bad guys apart if I had stayed in one place and didn’t move around so much.

What makes it even harder is that so many people wear magical disguises and are not what they seem.  For instance, those who aren’t Christian aren’t really American, even though they pretend to be.  Just like those who aren’t Catholic aren’t really Polish.  Ah, but hold on–it’s not enough to know that someone is wearing the Christian label.  If they are liberal, they aren’t really Christian.  You see how tricky this gets.

Now I feel as if I’m living in a cursed time, because everyone is starting to look like an enemy.  The conservatives aren’t true patriots and neither are the progressives.  I’m supposed to be on the watch for thieves who will steal my money through taxes and robbers who will steal my work by paying me too little for it.  There are hawks who want to attack everyone and doves who want us to get attacked.  Gun nuts want to shoot me, but then again I hear that those who favor gun restrictions want to see me defenseless and shot.

So how do I move forward on my way when I’m surrounded by dragons?  Could it be?  Is it possible that I’m the only one who’s right and everybody else is wrong?  After all, many wise men and women around me are making this claim–that they are the only ones who hold the key to true knowledge.

Believing that those who think differently from you are monsters to be fought is one way to journey through this world.  I find the travelling lighter and easier when I don’t carry all that heavy weaponry with me, though.  The dragons are imaginary anyway–they’re just imperfect human beings, a lot like me–and our battles are unnecessary.

I can kind of sympathize with passionate conservatives at the moment.  Since the Democrats hold both the Presidency and the majority in the Senate, conservatives find themselves in the same position progressives like me have been in many times, valiantly struggling for the things they believe in without having the power to really make them happen, until that struggle turns into something a bit quixotic and silly.

There is no better example of this than the current conservative hero, Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  Conservatives sing his praises for sticking to his right-wing principles, but…what has he actually been able to get done?  So far, he is 0-to-11 in his Senate votes.  He has introduced a bill to repeal healthcare reform (snort).  He has voted against John Kerry’s confirmation for Secretary of State while attempting to smear him as anti-military, and lost that fight.  He has participated in the Chuck Hagel hearings and tried to make the Secretary of Defense nominee look anti-Semitic by quoting out of context from an interview in which Hagel in fact criticized Iran and emphasized the importance of a strong relationship with Israel.  When all else failed, Cruz threatened to filibuster Hagel’s nomination.  But this turned out to be an idea which other, more sane, Republicans are backing away from.  (And I’m using the word sane to refer to John McCain here, which feels like quite a stretch.)

I realize that when he does all this, Cruz is appealing to his conservative base.  But he is also not accomplishing much of anything.  His dramatic gestures may get attention, but that is all they are, gestures–like his letter to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel opposing gun control measures.  I’m sure Emanuel cares deeply about that one. Again, as a liberal I feel some sympathy for Cruz here.  He’s like one of those tree sitting anti-logging protesters.  You know that tree will get cut down anyway, but good old Ted is gonna keep sitting up there.

But I guess I shouldn’t completely dismiss Ted–he proudly represents the red-blooded American values of a state like Texas.  At least, until the demographics shift and Texas turns blue.  Tee hee.

So, I think I’m starting to get it.  The main thing this gun debate comes down to is that you want to be able to fight your own government.  That’s why you need to own such large guns–because they are not for hunting or target practice–they are meant for that inevitable day when the military shows up on your doorstep to stick you in a FEMA camp because you got caught reading the Drudge Report.  Fine, I get it.  There’s only one problem with this scenario.  The military isn’t afraid of your puny assault rifle.  They have missiles and drones.  This invites another question–should we all be allowed to own missiles in case we have to defend ourselves from the coming dictatorship?  If not, why not?  Why are our missile rights being restricted?

This question can be translated to the international scene, as well.  After all, the conservative argument is that the more weapons everyone has, the more peaceful our world will be.  So why the uproar over Iran and North Korea developing their nuclear programs?  Let everyone have their bombs, the bigger the better.   Sure, we’ll live in constant fear of each other, but we’ll also treat each other more politely.  Wasn’t that the theory during the Cold War–mutually assured destruction?  A theory which Reagan liked, even!  See, the Republicans will totally be on board with me on this.

Um, what’s that you say?  You say that Iran and North Korea are ka-razy and should not be allowed to arm themselves to the teeth?  Does that mean that not everyone in the world should have access to deadly weapons?  So perhaps some individuals in our country should also not be allowed to have guns, because they might shoot them for crazy reasons.  Unless America is somehow special and is comprised of only good and peaceful people.  But I think our latest rash of shootings puts the lie to that.

Oh, the bizarre logic.  Republicans in Maryland talking about how something just has to be done about video games:

“These video games are out of control.  They are way too violent,”  Parrott said.

But they are against any gun regulation in the state.  Right, because it was the video game packaging that was used to kill in the Newtown massacre.  

Republicans are adding to their weird list of deadly objects every day.  Cars are just as deadly as guns!  Pencils!  Spoons!  After all, stabbing 20 people to death with a spork is so much easier than shooting them.  But move right along, everybody–no gun problem to see here.

I’m assuming guys like Parrott would like to propose warnings or restrictions for video games.  I don’t like violent video games either–but if we’re going to say they contributed to the problem and something needs to be done about them, what about the actual weapons used in the shootings?  A cartoon portrayal of violence is more dangerous than the real-life tool used to do violence?  Conservatives like to poke fun at liberals for not being logical, but this makes no sense to me.

I work for a health insurance company.  The week that the Affordable Care Act was passed, our CEO sent us an e-mail telling us what a great development this was for our company, since it would bring us lots of new business.  This was the reaction to the supposed Commie takeover of health care–a health care plan which, in reality, would benefit private corporations quite a bit.

There are interesting suggestions popping up (here and here) that the President’s gun control reform may follow the same pattern.  Specifically, the prediction is that Walmart is excited about participating in the deal with President Obama because closing the gun show loophole on background checks will drive customers away from buying guns at gun shows and will lead them to do their discount weapon shopping at Walmart.

So for all the end of the world panicking from our friendly Second Amendment militias, some gun sellers are likely to get an advantage from future gun laws.  They have all been doing very well so far–gun sales have been brisk since Obama’s re-election, and prices for assault weapons have gone up, even as much as doubled, since the Newtown shooting.

Yep, the Newtown massacre has only improved things for those who make a profit from selling guns.  And while this worries me, since it calls into question my belief in karma or any other type of spiritual justice actually being at work in this universe, it sounds like the weapon merchants themselves don’t have that much to worry about.

Where are the people who are coming to get you?

Seriously, where are they?  Those scary Feds?  The ones who are coming to take your guns away?  Or force you at gunpoint to buy health insurance and get on the Pill?

One of the first post-election reactions I saw encouraged everyone to “lock and load”.  It was followed by countless other conservatives screaming “I’m gonna get my guns before they get me!”  Well, so far I have not heard of any people getting taken away in the middle of the night.  Except maybe Bradley Manning and the guys at Gitmo, and they sure as hell didn’t get put away for voting Republican.  And Michelle Obama still isn’t sending anyone to vegan re-education camps.  So what went wrong?  The administration has had plenty of time to go after its enemies.  Obama has had over four years by now to call off the election, declare a state of emergency and crown himself All-Knowing Islamic-Communist Dictator.

But the only suggestions of violence I’ve seen have been on the conservative online forums.  The President is the one who gets death threats–a very high number of them, according to the Secret Service.  And as we all know, gun sales went up after the election, and I’m assuming that wasn’t all cocky blue-staters about to go hunting for Romney voters.  Which leaves me with one question:

Are they really coming for you, or are you getting ready to come for me?