A Farewell to Arms? Fat Chance

A Canadian is sort of like an American, but without the gun

Pierre Trudeau

There is a huge, can’t-miss sign that looms over the leafy, luxuriant lawns that surround the headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Virginia in the United States of America. 

The sign, next to a statue of a grinning, bare-chested  Charlton Heston brandishing an assault weapon, is a warning: “Trespassers will be shot.”

There is a postscript in smaller lettering: “Survivors will be shot again.” 

The NRA is a vastly influential institution in the US that exists to make sure that the American powers-that-be do not infringe the constitutional rights of ordinary Americans, specifically the right of all red-blooded Americans to have as many guns as they might want.

One shoe-bomb which failed to detonate was all it took to compel all airline passengers nowadays to take off their shoes for a check. But an average of 310 people getting shot every day in the US does not seem to have sufficiently moved anyone to consider changing US gun laws. 

If guns were outlawed, the thinking went, then only the outlaws would have them and that was unthinkable. And the body saw no irony in the fact that it was precisely the case in most other countries where school shootings were unimaginable. 

The President of the NRA was a cigar-puffing patriot who loved the smell of napalm in the morning and believed deeply in Mom, apple pie and the flag provided it did not inhibit the right of people to own as many guns as they could shoot. 

His secretary liked to tell visiting journalists that his favourite film was Snow White. Indeed, his room had a poster that paraphrased the very film: “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s hand grenades we throw.”

His philosophy was simple and he liked to boast that it could be traced all the way back to Thomas Jefferson: those who beat swords out of ploughshares were likely to get shot by those who didn’t.

It might have been the late John Lennon who best encapsulated the absurdity of the American passion for firearms. 

While recording the White Albumin 1968, Lennon noticed a magazine in the studio whose headline screamed: “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” 

A warm gun is a gun that has recently been fired and the writer was trying to equate that warmth with happiness. “I thought it was such an insane, fantastic thing to say,” Lennon would tell reporters years later in explaining how he came up with the superb track in the first place. 

Incidentally, the magazine was called American Rifleman which is an NRA publication. So you could even say the body influenced some of the best music of the 1960s. 

It does not, however,  render Mr Lennon’s death – by gunshot wound – any less insane. 

And talking of guns,  a car dealership in Alabama is giving away Bibles, flags and guns for a Fourth of July special in the name of patriotism. 

From now until July 31, Chatom Ford will offer customers a Bible, an American flag and a gift certificate for a 12-gauge shotgun when they purchase any new or used vehicle. 

In a promotional video titled “God, Guns and Freedom,” manager Koby Palmer cocks a shotgun in front of a red truck with an American flag draped across the back.

And what do you think the reaction has been like? 

Hostile? Critical? Any suggestion that Mr Ford might be insane?  

Nope. The cars are being sold out amid universal acclaim. 

Did You Know There Are Awards That Recognise Stupidity?

No kidding. They’re called Darwin Awards in honour of Charles Darwin who contributed the theory of natural selection – survival of the fittest so to speak – towards the knowledge pool of humanity. 

But the awards are for people who get killed through their own stupidity. In the process, they do humanity a favour by removing themselves from the gene pool so to speak. 

Perhaps the Arizona woman who tried to pose for a selfie with a jaguar might qualify for a Darwinian honourable mention. 

What do you think happened?

Of course, the woman who stepped over a barrier to take a selfie at a zoo in Arizona in the United States was attacked by the jaguar.

That’s what happens when you fish in the sea of life without bait. Or try and run up a down escalator. 

When she crossed the barrier and approached the enclosure to photograph herself with the jaguar, it swiped out through the fencing, leaving deep gashes on her arms.

Wildlife World Zoo director Mickey Ollson said there was “no way to fix people crossing barriers”.

“They’re there for a good reason,” he said carefully avoiding the impulse to add: “Duh!”

Although the protagonist was a woman, 70 per cent of all Darwin winners are male and, again not surprisingly, most winners have come from the United States. Think Trump and no one should be surprised. 

Here’s another rocket scientist from Arizona again. According to police reports, a man accidentally shot his own, well, sausage while shopping in the meat aisle at Wal-Mart. 

Arizona law does not require a permit (nor a holster for that matter) to carry a firearm, so our hero felt free to carry his piece “commando-style” (unholstered) beneath his waistband. 

When the unholstered gun drifted down into his jeans, he reached in and accidentally pulled the trigger while repositioning his weapon. This loose cannon’s low hanging fruit didn’t have a chance. Neither did said loose cannon. 

Firearm supporters can add this event to the arsenal of ammunition against gun control. 

Not every winner is from the US, however. India has its fair share of people a few poppadoms short of a curry too.

Driving home from a wedding, Prabhu Bhatara idled the car on the roadside to relieve himself in the woods. From a squatting position he spied an injured bear— no less. And what does he do or think? 

The rocket scientist thinks selfie. 

Meanwhile, instead of intervening, the passengers in his car pulled out their mobiles and filmed the carnage.

As he neared the bear, the passengers advised him against his plan. Rocket scientist that he was however, the former wedding guest was determined to fulfil his full selfie potential. 

Once he was within reaching distance, the bear turned out to be not as injured as it seemed  – maybe it was just a bad hair day – and lunged forward, pinning Mr. Bhatara to the ground, “killing him on the spot,” according to Forest ranger Dhanurjaya Mohapatra.

Then, perhaps disgusted at this epic display of homo sapien apathy, a stray dog joined the fray in an attempt to save the man, and tried to fight off the bear! The bear, however, seemed to believe that the world had one too many selfie-seeking humans and finished off poor Mr. Bhatara.

According to media reports, once the body was retrieved, forest officials treated the bear for its injuries. The dog, although probably still disgusted, was unharmed.

Despair not my fellow Malaysians. Although we may appear to have an over-achiever’s share of rocket scientists, morons and dim-witted people, there is always one bright shining thought that we should keep in mind.

It could be far, far worse.