INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Mark Twain put forth the following remarks about firearms while speaking in Hartford in 1875. "Gentlemen, - I am glad, indeed, to assist in welcoming the distinguished guest of this occasion to a city whose fame as an insurance centre has extended to all lands, and given us the name of being a band of brothers working sweetly hand in hand - the Colt's arms company making the destruction of our race easy and convenient, our life-insurance citizens paying for the victims when they pass away."
Seven years later Twain would pen this epic scenario...
"Never handle firearms carelessly. The sorrow and suffering that have been caused through the innocent but heedless handling of firearms by the young! Only four days ago, right in the next farmhouse to the one where I am spending the summer, a grandmother, old and gray and sweet, one of the loveliest spirits in the land, was sitting at her work, when her young grandson crept in and got down an old, battered, rusty gun which had not been touched for many years and was supposed not to be loaded, and pointed it at her, laughing and threatening to shoot. In her fright she ran screaming and pleading toward the door on the other side of the room; but as she passed him he placed the gun almost against her very breast and pulled the trigger! He had supposed it was not loaded. And he was right - it wasn't. So there wasn't any harm done. It is the only case of that kind I ever heard of."
So where might Mark Twain stand today were he here to counsel us? My guess is he would first take a hard look at the statistics, though he might caution us, "Most people use statistics the way a drunk uses a lamppost, more for support than for illumination."
Where we have some of the loosest gun laws in the world, Japan has the strictest. In 2008, while we suffered 12,000 gun-related homicides, Japan suffered a total of eleven.
In defense of the NRA, it comforts me to know with undying confidence that no country in the world, nor any assemblage of countries, would dare attempt a ground attack on America, for they understand to the last man, that no sooner would they commandeer a home for lodging than they would be blown unceremoniously back to their homeland. I would venture a guess that were Hezbollah to challenge the Silver City Militia to a firefight, Hezbollah would limp away with its tail down.
Having served in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, I have seen what damage M-16s and AK-47s can do in a short period of time. Let us hope to hear "no" votes in congress to selling military style weapons to civilians, and "yes" votes to background checks for all gun purchases. Wouldn't it be a sardonic turn of events, if midterm elections turned out all members of congress with "A" NRA ratings. It could happen.
Then again, we should let Mark Twain have the last word in this matter, as we are wont to do, "Anybody can hit a relative, but a Gatling gun won't get a burglar."
- Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.org.