A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bill Straub: A man and his guns (enough to get the job done) is example of how we don’t do the job

Over in the lovely old town of Springfield, located smack-dab in the middle of the commonwealth, police this week came across a patriot determined to exercise his rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, armed with the sort of firepower the 101st Airborne would have welcomed as it endeavored to fight its way out of Bastogne.

This individual, one Matthew Smith, was seen sitting in his car outside LB Manufacturing, apparently minding his own business, when police approached to determine the purpose of his visit to Washington County, which, as any veteran political reporter can tell you, has at least one decent restaurant not too far off the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway.

Mr. Smith responded to the inquiries by attempting to pull a Glock on Officer Joe Templeman, who quickly disarmed the moron, relieving important people from across this great land from the heavy responsibility of sending thoughts and prayers in the direction of Officer Templeman’s surviving family. Additional probing led to the discovery that Mr. Smith was carrying two additional handguns on his person and that he kept a fully automatic AR-15 rifle at hand.

Sufficient weaponry, he later told police, to “get the job done,’’ although just what that job entailed remains to be seen.

The police report noted that Mr. Smith hails from nearby Lebanon. It fails to reveal, however, if Mr. Smith is a zombie, a vital factor in determining whether or not an individual is disposed to reign havoc on communities like Springfield by engaging in wholesale slaughter via firearms.

That last tip on the true source of mass killings that have plagued these United States in recent years comes from St. Matt of New Hampshire, the one and only governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, who seems increasingly determined to spew utter nonsense at the drop of a hat without provocation or invitation.

Mad Matt Bevin is determined to convince one and all that guns have absolutely nothing to do with the shootings that, according to the Gun Violence Archive, have resulted this year in 12,998 deaths, 25,089 injuries and 316 mass shootings as of Nov. 21. And, no, before you ask, the numbers don’t include suicides.

Nope. St. Matt is convinced America’s “culture of death’’ is the prime motivator behind the continuing plague of shootings and the nation’s fixation on what your surly, neighborhood zombie is up to is much more telling than the easy access to firearms of various sort.

Appearing on the Leland Conway show on WHAS-AM in Louisville, which has emerged as the primary source of the governor’s inanity, St. Matt preached, when questioned about shootings:

“It starts with everything from the type of entertainment that we focus on. What’s the most popular topic that seems to be in every cable television network. Television shows are all about, what? Zombies! I don’t get it — that’s what we are.”

And he subsequently added, “When a culture is surrounded by, inundated by, rewards things that celebrate death, whether it is zombies in television shows, the number of abortions — there’s a thousand justifications for why we do this.’’

Now permit me to state flatly that, like Mad Matt, I’m not into zombies or horror movies in general for that matter. The Trump administration is frightening enough, thank you. Not too long ago I was filling out a website questionnaire that asked me to identify my favorite horror movie and I responded “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.’’ Although, in a dedicated effort for full disclosure, I should admit that I enjoyed “Zombieland,’’ which was a hoot.

But St. Matt seems to think zombies are something new in American culture, passing through the citizenry like the flu. That is, of course, is inaccurate. The first example of the genre, “White Zombie’’ with Bela Lugosi, was released in 1932 and there’s been a steady stream ever since, including the George Romero classic “Night of the Living Dead’’ in 1968.

So now all of a sudden certain individuals are engaging in mass shootings because they watch cultural touchstones like zombie movies? C’mon. Of course not. Does Mad Matt really think they only show zombie movies and films of a similar ilk in the United States? Why aren’t there mass shootings around the globe where they show “The Walking Dead”?

And I must say I know very few people, whether they watch zombie movies or not, who “celebrate death.’’ I can’t speak for Mad Matt but most people I know are looking to avoid that particular consequence as quickly as their limbs will carry us.

No. This is just St. Matt pulling a sleight-of-hand, the old three-card monte. Divert a sucker’s attention from what he or she should really be fixated on and they’ll quit focusing on what’s important. And gun nuts will embrace the ploy because they can continue to play with their toys without bother and will only have to express thoughts and prayers at the latest news that someone was gunned down for no reason.

Zombies have nothing to do with the endless number of shootings America experiences, including the attack on two poor souls whose lives were taken from them as they sought to buy groceries in Jeffersontown a few weeks back. It’s the proliferation of, and easy access to, firearms that is leading to tragedy after tragedy.

Last June, the Small Arms Survey, a project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, determined that there are – now get this – 393 million guns in the U.S. The nation’s population is about 326 million. So there are enough guns in circulation for every man, woman and child in this country with a cool 67 million left over, presumably, in Mad Matt world, to be distributed among the zombies.

This is a problem found nowhere else in the developed world. America maintains 5 percent of the world’s population and 31 percent of the global mass shootings. One study showed that gun homicide deaths in the U.S. are 25.2 percent greater than in any other high-income country.

The lone common denominator in these shootings is, of course, guns. And I’m pretty sure that angry white men make up a greater percentage of mass shooters than zombies.

But don’t worry, you folks who place the Second Amendment above god and country. You’ll be able to continue administering love strokes to your sweet Smith & Wesson to your heart’s content. The United States, at least those who dominate the joint, has entered into something of a pact, holding that we’re willing to withstand the death and wounding of tens of thousands of individuals – liked the 20 babies slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut a few years back – so we can keep more guns than we could possibly ever need.

But do the rest of us a favor.

Next time you feel compelled to offer thoughts and prayers to families grieving over loved ones gunned down in the prime of lives, shove it down your gullet.

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.

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One Comment

  1. Tony Trapp says:

    Mr. Straub according to your thinking the First Amendment should be wiped out as well. Freedom of Speech should be eliminated because hateful words can lead to some taking deadly actions against certain individuals or groups. Freedom of Religion should be eliminated because some may preach hatred towards other faiths and again may lead to deadly actions or at least discrimination against people of other faiths. We do not wish to harm any of our God given rights stated in the Bill of Rights. We must defend them all, even when there are some who distort them to their advantage.

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