The vile maxim of the masters of mankind

Enough has been said already. It is no were near being done. While posts on Facebook rail with indignation or regurgitate the missives of celebrities, gun stores report a surge in sales. This information – itself regurgitated from CNN – confirms my suspicion that people will continue to purchase firearms. Someone posts, ”unfriend” me now if you don’t agree that guns should be banished from the earth – “I MEAN IT.” As if posting an ultimatum on a Facebook wall would secure a result that we all can live with. One person posts pictures of child who was killed in the horrific event in Newtown. They do not know the child or the family personally, but have chosen to post the images. They cry out for a response – thinking it may produce a logical explanation. They are wrong. People do not respond. No response can logically convey the depth of this tragedy. Logic is the last thing we can hope to conjure. The reality is that as long as a demand exists – someone will manufacture a product. Supply and demand greases the wheels of progress. Profit will always out perform other considerations such as human safety and there is no logic involved.

Witness the recent NRA press conference where Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president decries: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” His mandate is that armed security in every single school in America will solve the gun problem. That’s like saying the only thing that will stop a drug addict from constantly seeking to score is to have his dealer move in with him.

pioneer of political economy and philosopher

Adam Smith

In October of this year, Noam Chomsky gave a talk at MIT entitled, “Who Owns the World?” It is a question that people fail to ask when events transpire that spin our minds out of control. As the media plunges us into an abyss the larger issues of “who controls what” are forgotten. The gun industry isn’t regulated because it generates around $3.5 billion in annual sales. And despite Walmart pulling the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle from its catalog, there are still 1,010 assorted rifles available online. The hypocrisy cries out for vengeance.

Chomsky went on to quote Adam Smith and it is a precise explanation for the unconscionable lack of gun control: “All for ourselves and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Smith was referring to English landed gentry who were in a position to become the principal architects of policy. The Europeans transplanted this model to the New World where merchants’ and manufacturers’ interests were served by more lauded policies and enforced no matter what the impact. Unfortunately, the impact only devastates the innocent.

I am grief-stricken. I wonder how safe it is to go outside. How many more people teeter on the edge of mental instability? I live in New York where an incalculable number of denizens are a breath away from mental demise. I have been changed in a way that is not adjustable. And I don’t feel like posting it on Facebook.

— Deborah Johnstone

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