Despite slow but forward moving social progress in the areas of civil rights and gender equality, the United States has been slow to adopt change. To say the march toward diversity in the office of president moves at a glacial pace is probably a gross understatement. Until John F. Kennedy's election, the country had never witnessed a commander-in-chief that didn't comfortably fit the definition of a WASP. And current President Barack Obama marks the first ascent of an African American to the role.
In other developed nations, of course, successful rulers of varying ethnicities, races and genders have emerged, which would seem to put America behind the times. Regardless of these small steps, even the most non-traditional presidents have understood that certain positions must be embraced in order to rule effectively over a population with deeply entrenched values: a president seeking unity must ultimately be some kind of Christian and must love guns.
Conservatives won't budge without this buy-in, and liberals will look the other way. It seemed inevitable, then, that the White House would release a staged photo of the president shooting something other than hoops. But the public outcry came as a shock to the administration.
"We counted on conspiracy theorists to attack the photo as a gimmick," said White House Spokesman Jay Carney. "But we never anticipated the conflicting responses from gun advocates."
Retailers such as Bass Pro Shops, Sports Authority, Sports Chalet and Walmart reported a rush on guns and ammunition, with frenzied shoppers exhibiting signs of deep emotional distress when supplies ran out just hours after opening.
"I haven't seen anything like it since Y2K," said Zeke Gersch, a Walmart manager in Bennington Vale. "Over the last couple months, a lot of folks have been in here stocking up on guns. You know, with so many bad guys running loose, it only makes sense that the good guys arm themselves to defend their families and neighbors. Plus, it's clear that Obama wants to take guns away from decent Americans, just as he stole our Christian God and the sanctity of marriage. But now I think Obama's master plan is to disarm these peace loving heroes and kill them all himself in some sort of Muslim-race-riot-execution-spree. This guy thinks he's the Black Dynamite of al Qaeda. To be fair, I never gave into conspiracy theories before. I figured Obama's gun control crap was code for 'bring on socialism.' I never thought it really meant 'kill Whitey.'"
But officials from the NRA say people like Gersch represent a fringe who've latched onto the wrong idea.
"I'm not disagreeing with their core concepts at all," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre clarified. "In many ways, they make a logical argument. But given the disturbing image of an armed and lethal Barack Obama, my organization now believes the only path to peace lies in reversing course and mandating spartan regulations on gun ownership."
Behind the scenes, Vice President Joe Biden has been urging Senate Democrats to support the president's proposals for bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He also wants requirements imposed that would force gun buyers to undergo background checks. Although this request has met with tepid approval, talks with Congress about limiting weapons choices and ammunition capacity have been contentious. The NRA, however, is now donating millions of dollars to lobby for support of Biden's initiatives.
"Our great nation has suffered its share of massacres by crazed, middle-class whites," LaPierre lamented. "Columbine, Arizona, Alabama, a theater in Colorado, and most recently Sandy Hook Elementary. These are terrible tragedies, to be sure. Tragedies I sincerely believe could have been prevented by making guns widely available to concerned citizens. But these situations are not the norm. The norm is reading about shootings everyday in the more 'colorful' sections of our melting pot. The picture I saw this weekend was beyond even that. An angry, confrontational black man -- who happens to control the American military -- calls for abolishing guns but then shows up for target practice a few days later? There aren't enough good guys, there aren't enough guns. Right now, the NRA sees no choice but to rid the country of firearms until at least 2016."
In related news, People for the Ethical Treatment of Skeet (PETS) demanded President Obama's impeachment after the White House published the photo of the senseless Camp David skeet slaughter.
(c) 2013. See disclaimers.