Op-Ed

Sniping at U.S. gun culture not good for your mental health

Joel Pett
Joel Pett

Besides sharp pencils and even sharper tongues, cartoonists need the willingness to tilt at the same exasperating windmills incessantly, even as things get worse. This is commonly referred to as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Insanity.

In the 37 years since I drew the cartoon seen here, (yes, critics, my drawings used to be even worse!) things have gotten better, if your definition of better includes random frequent slaughter (who put the laughter in that?) in schools, workplaces, churches and wherever else Americans gather to filibuster our lives away and ignore cancers on our democracy.

Yes, 37 years ago, 1981. ”Morning in America,” with the much-revered, much-revised presidency of Ronald Reagan in glorious blossom. The Gipper mythology has been greatly enhanced by the fact that he was shot but didn’t die.

If he had, he might never have instilled the notion that “government is the problem” in the tiny young minds of today’s anti-regulation, pro-privatization politicians. And the poor fools might have grown up thinking that a civil society overflowing with automatic weapons of war, tainted meat, subprime mortgage-backed securities and untested pharmaceuticals was a bad thing.

Our country is sick, and not just with flu. More guns than people, a ratio that gets worse every time someone’s shot and killed. It’s almost comical to witness the intellectual contortions politicians go through to justify their fear of the murder lobby. “Bad guys with guns” should be the National Rifle Association motto.

And no more boo-hoo mental-health care rhetoric, please. Does anyone really think this country will take the first baby step toward treating the epidemic of problems we face between our collective ears? We don’t even help war veterans after we send them into hells-on-earth which practically guarantee future demons. So that’s just crazy talk.

Finally, the confusion of insecurity and security in the minds of the firearms fetishists is sad and creepy. News flash, camo-dudes: the government is not coming for your guns. But if you flipped out and intervention was necessary, who would they send? The police, the National Guard, the armed forces? Yes, your friends and family, your work and church cohorts. Real patriots.

They are the government, because we are the government, remember? Oh, never mind. But remember, if you shoot back at them and end up in prison, the orange jumpsuit won’t be for hunting sandhill cranes.

Some see hope in the fact that corporations, when faced with enough entombed kids and blood-soaked backpacks, will do the minimum to appear to care. Thank you, Walmart and Dick’s. And who even knew you could get an NRA credit card? (The obvious first question: Can I buy a congressman with that?)

Others take solace in the knowledge that a new generation of leadership will soon emerge. But will it be the kids we’ve been seeing on TV challenging the gun nuts, or the offspring of Jared Kushner or Sara Huckabee Sanders? Or maybe the grandkids of Wayne LaPierre?

Likely, we will just muddle along until a wealthy private school gets shot up. And cartoonists will go on personifying the definition of insanity. Somebody should make sure we can’t get guns.

Joel Pett is the Herald-Leader cartoonist.

On Kentucky.com/opinion: Joel Pett explains how he draws Sen. Mitch McConnell

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