Title this a tale of two gun shows.
In a Miami neighborhood where warring thugs armed with assault rifles routinely take the lives of bystanders, the mayor held a gun buyback that, though it may not put an end to the violence, at least sends the right message.
Trade your high-powered rifles and assault weapons for two tickets to a Miami Heat basketball game.
Give up a gun and go shopping with a gift certificate.
One hundred and twenty-nine guns — including a sawed-off shotgun a police sergeant said “could cut a person in half” — were taken off the streets with the help of pastors at Jordan Grove Baptist Church.
That’s not a lot of guns, but considering what was going on across town, the gun buyback at the Liberty City church marked progress.
In west Miami-Dade, where people also are armed and gun-happy but have not — not yet, anyway — experienced the kind of rampant violence their neighbors across the income divide have endured for decades, gun dealers held the Southern Classic Gun and Knife Show.
As is happening all over the country, there were record crowds and record sales at high prices.
People who already own guns and others who have never owned a gun are arming themselves to preempt whatever gun-control measures President Obama might push through a Congress that’s hardly sympathetic to meaningful reform.
It was startling that so many people would show up last weekend right after five people were injured at gun shows across the country that turned chaotic when guns discharged, reportedly by accident.
But even more startling was the throng of mothers and fathers who brought their school-age kids and teenagers to the show at the county’s Tamiami Park fairgrounds, as if the annual spring fair’s rides had arrived early.
And they spoke about guns and violence, asserting trivialities and repeating overused mantras, as if they could convince themselves and others that this gun-buying madness after the Newtown tragedy and the president’s announcement about pursuing reforms is a good thing.
Listen to what these gun enthusiasts told WSVN 7News’ Brandon Beyer:
A man explained the gun show shootings in Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina with a version of the NRA’s “guns don’t kill people” line:
“There is no such thing as an accidental misfire,” he said. “It’s a negligent discharge.”
He then tried to justify the chaos, uttering nonsense about population demographics: “I would imagine if five separate people were sent to the hospital it’s really just a ratio and proportion issue.”
Sure, whatever that means.
A young man addressed how safe the gun show was by showing his locked-up gun case.
“Even when you walk in [with your own gun], they put a safe on it,” he said as he opened his “locked” case before the camera in a nanosecond.
And chimed in a woman, with a little girl frolicking around her: “I believe that it’s our right, that it’s in our Constitution that the government doesn’t have the right to infringe on our rights.”
Yet no one has proposed taking away her constitutional rights. The only measures on the table are stricter control and enforcement of already existing laws. The only ban under debate is of military-style high-powered assault weapons.
“Most of your people in there are sane, responsible firearms owners,” a man confidently asserted, pointing to the building behind him, where on better days students exhibit their science projects. “Those are not the ones I’m worried about.”
I guess he has never heard of a “responsible” gun lover named Nancy Lanza. She taught her son Adam to handle and shoot not only guns but high-powered rifles. She took him to the gun range for practice.
The 20 children and six teachers and administrators who died at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary paid for her interpretation of responsibility.
As I write this, news breaks of another shooting, this time at a college in Texas. Three people hurt, one of them an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.
No doubt the wiser gun show this weekend was held at the church where so many tears have been shed at the funerals of the victims of gun violence.