DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, February 4, 2013

Of Presidents, Skeet Shooting, Incas, and Conquistadors

Dear President Obama:

I'd like to talk to you about this skeet shooting photo flap. I would have written earlier, but my wife and I just got back from a 3-week trip to South America. (By the way, our journey meant we had to miss your inauguration, but that appears to have gone well. Belated congratulations.).

The highlight of our adventure was the 6 days we spent in Peru, including 2 days at Machu Picchu. Obviously, we learned a lot there about the conquest of the Incas by Francisco Pizarro and the rest of the Spanish Conquistadors. And I think some of those lessons apply to your attempt to introduce rational restrictions to reduce the gun violence that is threatening our American way of life.

When the Spanish arrived, the Incan King Atalhuapa believed he could appease the Conquistadors by offering them gifts and concessions. However, he severely underestimated the Spanish, whose greed knew no boundaries. They didn't want to share the Incan wealth; they wanted to possess it all. They believed that God was on their side. They were blinded by conviction, unable to comprehend any positions other than those they held. Compromise wasn't in their vocabulary or their actions. The choice was simple: accept the  Spanish way or suffer death and destruction.

In many of those ways, those Conquistadors of old remind me of the spokesmen for the National Rifle Association today. Apparently, compromise isn't in their vocabulary. They, too, blinded by conviction, appear to want it completely their way and believe they are on the side of the protecting angels (although I find it hard to seriously envision angels, or, for that matter, teachers, brandishing semi-automatic weapons).

I assume you allowed the picture of you shooting skeet at Camp David to be published in an effort to enhance the credibility of your arguments for gun restrictions. But I don't think that strategy will work. You can't reason with the unreasonable; you can't compromise with those who believe any compromise represents an evil greater than the deaths of innocent 6- and 7-year-olds. For what it's worth, Mr. President, I urge you not to get trapped in the world of visual spinning. Keep the issue clear and your eye on the real target. Continue to appeal to reason. I believe reasonable people believe reasonable gun restrictions can, and will, reduce gun violence. And I also believe that despite the unreasonable positions promulgated by the NRA leadership, there are more reasonable people in America than there are weapon zealots who believe any new restrictions will lead directly to the confiscation of every single gun in the United States. Therefore, please forget the media photo war. There are much more important battles to win.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
P.S. Mr. President:
Jon Stewart of The Daily Show also has some thoughts on this issue. As is usually the case, I agree with Mr. Stewart and, as is always the case, Mr. Stewart states his position much better than I can. You may have seen the video clip, but, if you haven't, you can click here to see what Mr. Stewart had to say

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