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Guns, Good God Y'all, What Are they Good For?


This is the third part of my take on gun control, and other things our government will try to “fix” in the coming years.




As I sit here thinking about guns, the late Edwin Starr’s 1969 Vietnam War protest song keeps slipping into my consciousness:


War, huh yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh.


War huh yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again y'all.


War, huh good God y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.


But instead of using the word “War” I am thinking “Guns.” As in:


“Guns, good God y’all. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.”




At a time when the price of a human life is at an all-time low, guns seem to be the easiest target for an attempt at a cosmetic fix for our Congress and our President. Get rid of guns and you will end senseless murders like the killing of 26 people (20 young children) at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut. I know if my child was one of the victims at Sandy Hook, I might be calling for the elimination of guns too. But when you step back, take a breath and look at the problem logically, taking away guns, or taking away certain types of guns, will not eliminate the problem. If I remember correctly, ole Timothy McVeigh killed 188 people and wounded more than 800 in 1995 using a bomb made from ammonium nitrate fertilizer, diesel fuel and nitromethane, packaged and delivered in a truck. The attack by McVeigh on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States. There were children killed in the Oklahoma City bombing attack too, but I don’t remember members of Congress and the President making moves to shut down fertilizer plants, or making diesel fuel users and drag racing teams (one use of nitromethane is in drag-racing fuel) register their diesel fuel purchases with the Federal government. There was no mention of banning trucks either.




The deadliest attack on Americans was the dastardly attack by Muslim extremist on the World Trade Center with jet airplanes. I think I have taken several flights since that fateful day in September 2001. There was never any attempt to shut down air travel. That would be preposterous.




One of the most insidious killers in the United States is the cigarette. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco than HIV, motor vehicle accidents, illegal drug use, alcohol use, murders and suicides combined. Now if the government was really looking out for us, wouldn’t it attack the tobacco industry first? Would that not be a logical thing to do? Just to give you an idea how big a problem this is, let’s look at some numbers:


1.       Cigarette smoking causes about 20% of all deaths in the United States,


2.       443,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke),


3.       49,400 deaths per year from secondhand smoke exposure,


4.       269,655 deaths annually among men, and


5.       173,940 deaths annually among women.




I didn’t just make up these numbers. They come from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which ironically by the way, is part of the U.S. Government.


Other shocking revelations about cigarettes include:


1.       On average, adults who smoke cigarettes die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.


2.       Based on current cigarette smoking patterns, an estimated 25 million Americans who are alive today will die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses, including 5 million people younger than 18.


Those numbers were not made up either. I think the Government enjoys the fact that cigarettes are being smoked because a huge chunk of tax money comes from smoking. Check out these interesting facts about cigarettes and taxes straight from the website of R.J. Reynolds tobacco company (http://www.rjrt.com/taxpays.aspx):


1.       Cigarettes are one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in the United States. Federal, state and local governments collect more tax money from the sale of cigarettes than the tax dollars received from taxing retailers, wholesalers, farmers and manufacturers combined.


2.       Since 1998, governments at all levels have collected more than $444 BILLION in cigarette taxes and payments from smokers.


3.       Settlement payments, federal, and state and local taxes on cigarettes for fiscal year 2011 amounted to more than $44.5 BILLION, including the following breakdown:


- Federal excise taxes - $15,101,077,000
- State and local excise taxes - $17,781,272,000
- State cigarette sales taxes - $4,240,744,000
- Tobacco settlement payments - $7,088,376,000.


       4.  The government per-pack profit from cigarettes in 2011 was $3.68 (or 66 percent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes); more than ten times the profit of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company,


       5.  Adult smokers make up about 19 percent of the population, yet smokers as a group are the only  ones singled out for more and more "sin" taxes,


      6.  Cigarette tax increase proposals are made frequently – usually to fund new or expanded government programs, like the following:


- Since 2001, 48 states have increased tobacco taxes.
- Since 2000, federal taxes on a pack of cigarettes have increased 197 percent.
- Since 1998, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes has more than doubled (from $2.09 to $5.55).


Taxing the hell out of cigarette smokers is an easy tax for the governments of our country. Everyone knows it is extremely hard, if not next to impossible, to stop smoking. It is only the most addictive substance on the planet. You get ’em hooked and then tax them until they die – a cash cow for Uncle Sammy. It is almost as bad as diet soft drinks with that evil aspartame.


A personal side note here: My cardiologist (yes, I have a form of heart disease and I never smoked) tells me that he gets 90% of his business from tobacco caused illnesses. He said the poisons in cigarettes break down almost every system in the human body over time. And he is smart. You don’t think I would go to a stupid doctor do you?




Back on track here: What about automobile deaths? Don’t even get me started on that.




So what drives our government to react with such fervor when someone gets shot, while being meek as a mouse and basically invisible when someone dies from tobacco? Could it be that most politicians are getting their pockets lines from tobacco interests? I would quickly bet at least $100 on that one, even though I cannot prove it.




But the real question that puzzles me is this:


Why to politicians immediately jump on gun control as a solution? I guess it looks good to the constituents back home when Joe Politico gets on TV and talks about protecting our children.


Do President Obama, the congress, the State of New York and VP Joe Biden realize that the anti-gun rhetoric only scares law abiding citizens who believe in the Constitution – many who are veterans who actually fought to protect our Constitution – into buying more guns. Gun sales and ammunition sales are at an all-time high.


In a recent article written by Steven Rickerl, a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan, a small newspaper in a state not usually linked with gun horders (like Alabama, South Carolina or Texas), Dennis Dunn, owner of Dunn’s Sporting Goods in Marion, Illinois, said his store cannot keep the AR, AK and SKS style assault rifles in stock. Not only are the rifles flying off the racks, but the .223, 7.62X39, 9mm, .40 and even .22 caliber rounds and high capacity magazines are all in short supply.


Dunn agreed political uncertainty is driving sales. “Our president is the best gun salesman the industry’s ever had,” said Dunn.


Hell, I even went gun shopping last weekend, and I am one of the biggest peace lovers in the world.




Isn’t it amazing? When a politician tries to fix something, it usually turns out more wrong than the thing he/she are trying to fix.




Stay tuned: My next installment will focus on what guns are good for.