Ned lived beside my grandfather in Tacoma, Wash, for decades. He was a shy man with no wife, no girlfriend, no kids, and no job who had inherited just enough money to hide from the real world.
When Ned died, the police found hundreds of rifles, shotguns and pistols in his attic. Along with thousands of rounds of ammunition. It took days for them to cart it all out of his modest bungalow-style home.
The 3 percent of Americans like Ned collectively own more than half of our nation’s 393 million firearms. These 7.7 million “Gun Nuts” average 17 firearms each. They are the male equivalent of the crazy cat lady.
Ned was a mass shooting waiting to happen. The only thing missing was a moron in The Oval Office like Donnie Trust Fund.
A timid man living a Walter Mitty-like existence, Ned was polite and quiet outside his home. However, he secretly lived in trembling fear of zombies, Russian chauffeurs, black politicians, Muslim auto mechanics, Hispanic roofers, Jewish accountants, and sarcastic female journalists in tight dresses who might make fun of his paunch, mustache and glasses.
Mostly, Ned was just afraid of growing old alone and being irrelevant. He was afraid of living a life without meaning in an increasingly incoherent America which celebrates every breath, fuck and fart of the rich and famous but has little use for the rest of us.
Ned managed the pain of his own irrelevancy by dosing himself with Sig Sauers, AK-47s, World War I trench guns, Mauser bolt-action rifles, bowie knives, and AR-15s in much the same way some lonely women dose themselves with Tabbies, Tomcats, Persians and the occasional Siamese.
The increasingly secretive firearms industry prizes these fearful people. Especially the men.
Assault rifles, pistol-grip shotguns and semi-auto pistol comforted Ned. They made his fears less terrifying. So he brought them into his empty life the way cat ladies fill their homes with stray felines and plastic flowers.
Neither group of these unhinged misfits apparently has any concept of The Law of Diminishing Returns or any capacity to answer the simply question of “how much is too much?”
If the stopping power of one Browning 1903 pistol is reassuring to a gun nut, then five of them are five times as comforting. Never mind that they only have two hands.
Same things for cats and lonely women. Except that no crazy cat lady has killed anyone yet.
Much less amassed the kind of staggering toll of 58 dead and 851 wounded Stephen Paddock put together last year in Las Vegas. By comparison, only 1991 Americans died from enemy fire during the entire First Gulf War. Another 467 were injured.
What made Paddock so deadly?
Military style weapons technology. The kind firearms executives are using to satisfy their fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profit.
If Ned could have rounded out his personal arsenal with grenades, recoilless rifles, mortars and flamethrowers he would have. The old Ford Pinto would have given way to a HumVee and the bungalow style home would have been converted into a multi-level Fuhrerbunker.
Suckers like Ned build the mansions of rich parasites like Christopher J. Killoy, the CEO of the Sturm Ruger gun maker. Its share price jumps after each big mass shooting because dead Americans are good for its business model. So are the Neds of the world.
Sturm Ruger’s stock price has risen more than 800 percent the past 12 years.
Contrary to common belief, its product is not firearms. It’s fear.
Specifically, the kind of fear associated with the primitive tribalism which still permeates the human race, and persuades men like Ned to seek out the comforting heft of new spears.
Once upon a time, the tobacco industry took the candle for being secretive, exploitative, and using an army of lobbyists and lawyers to hide its true nature from the American public it processed like a meatpacking plant. Today, it’s the firearms industry.
Annual firearms industry profits vary with the number of U.S. mass shootings, but it’s almost impossible to tell just how closely due to industry “opacity.”
That’s business-speak for saying its executives are some devious mofos when it comes to leveling with the public.
The firearms industry hides its collective profits from public view by funneling the curious to misleading economic impact reports that emphasize its job creation, wages, and taxes paid while omitting its annual revenue and profit growth.
Most business journalists play along with the charade, which is meant to hinder accurate reporting.
Google “firearms industry billion profit annual” if you don’t believe me. There’s plenty of public data for individual company profit and revenue, but almost nothing for the industry as a whole. That omission is the greatest possible self-indictment IMHO.
My research indicates firearms industry revenues grew 3 percent from $10.6 billion in 2008 to $13.8 billion in 2018. About 8-10 percent of its revenues become profit, which is the amount left over after costs. So figure annual profits of $1.4 billion.
That amount is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, unless you’re ashamed of the way you made it. As this industry should be.
The firearms industry has been so successful that more Americans like Ned die from suicide now than car accidents. Some 47,173 Americans took their own lives in 2017, with more than half of those doing the deed with firearms. That compares with 40,100 deaths in automobile accidents in 2017, according to the National Safety Council.
Middle-aged white men like Ned are 3.54 times more likely to take their own lives, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
All of which takes us directly to Painful Truth No. 9.67 Gazillion: There’s nothing a law abiding American needs to do with a firearm which cannot be done with a wheel gun, pump shotty and/or bolt action rifle. Except jack-off in a tub filled with hollow points while posting to one of the proud InCel Loser websites.
The author is a registered firearms owner with a single firearm.