Monday, June 22, 2009

Life styles

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American judiciary. For more than two centuries they have ignored the phrase "well-ordered militia" and interpreted the Second Amendment to mean "The Founders want us to have private arsenals." It's far too late for any kind of meaningful guns-for-Gameboys program, especially with right-wing paranoia at record levels. I am not in favor of more gun-control legislation. I want the legislatures to turn their attention to the other side of the equation and allow all Americans to purchase body armor.

At present, only law-enforcement officers are supposed to have bullet-proof vests. Clearly they should be available to civilians as well. If we have to walk the same streets and ride the same public transit as the armed and rabid, we must be given a fighting chance. Apart from the obvious benefits, it could be a boost to the fashion industry. Who wants some cumbersome camouflage-color vest when you can wear Kevlar from Donna Karan or Giorgio Armani? The white wedding dress as a symbol of purity is passe -- nothing says "pre-marital abstinence" like a bullet-proof Vera Wang gown. I confidently predict this will be da bomb with hip-hop artistes who have their own fashion lines: attend your favorite club and return to your crib unperforated. Finally a reason for those baggy clothes! And when foreign visitors deplane and see our duty-free shops full of the latest in body armor, they'll know just what kind of country they have come to.

I can hear the objections: the neighborhoods with the worst gun violence are also the poorest neighborhoods. How can we get armor to those who need it most? The politicians who court the NRA and pose, grinning, with their assault rifles will have to make sure there is a provision in the federal budget for protecting low-income families. May I suggest a surcharge on ammunition? How about a real "death tax" -- the gun industry pays a penalty for every person killed with a firearm? Well, the ways-and-means people can work it out. I don't do detail.

Will people wear their armor? I would leave that up to individuals. Many states have laws requiring bikers to wear helmets and drivers to use seat belts, and even texting is being restricted after some memorable train and bus crashes. But hey, if you feel lucky...guns, freedom, bullet-proof vests, liberty, it's all a rich gumbo. I feel safer already.



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