My Colonoscopy and the NRA

Dear and kind readers, let me start by saying I was a member of the NRA – I think. Many years ago at the approximate age of twelve, living in Northern Wisconsin, I took a gun safety course. I was taught how to responsibly carry a gun, load a gun, apply the safety, and sit a gun down to climb over a fence. This was in the year of 1976. When I completed this course lasting for three evenings, 2 hours per evening, I received an NRA badge. Earlier, just a scant paragraph before when I said, “I think”, it was because I can’t remember, but I believe by signing up for the class, my brother, cousin and I were enlisted as members for one year.

Recently, at the age at which we Americans are asked to go and have a camera placed in our anuses (by a medical professional, of course) I was preparing for a routine colonoscopy appointment. This preparation includes flushing out the system (a.k.a. lots of laxatives). As I was spending two days purging my body I was watching the latest shooting incident take place. I hate to attach a name to this incident in a selfish effort to keep this story topical when the next massacre takes place. “Selfish” seems like a fitting word when addressing this topic.

I’m not a pundit nor a medical professional, but I’ve been told that there are chances – at a certain age – of the word “cancer” forming in one’s colon. For this reason I decided to make an appointment and check into the situation. I readily set aside silly concerns that people may have about procedures like this.  You know, those people that might say, “I don’t want somebody putting something in my butt!” On a more personal note, I very seldom use exclamation points, but thought the character in the last sentence would have conjured up an exclamation point.

The NRA was started in 1871. It was not started as an organization to protect second amendment rights. The NRA of 1871 was started to promote marksmanship. Its first president was General Ambrose Burnside – you know, from the Civil War. With smoothbore muskets not being so accurate, the Union Army’s records show that its troops fired 1000 rifle shots for each Confederate soldier hit. The NRA set out to see how the Europeans trained their shooters and soon started their own marksman team. Remington and Sharps produced breech loading weapons for the U.S. marksman team with great success and the NRA was off and running.

Over 100 years of marksmanship training and educational classes followed. Little did I know that in 1976, years before I even knew I had something called a “colon”, there was a major change taking place in the NRA. During that first 100 years the NRA supported both the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. In 1976 the politicking and lobbying took more of a front seat. The following year – yes, you guessed it – of 1977, the NRA was planning on moving its headquarters to Colorado and building a recreational facility in New Mexico, but those within the organization having a concern of Second Amendment rights defeated the incumbents and took the organization down a different path.

I was not thinking of mussel loading or smoothbore when I drank 64 ounces of Gatorade with 8 ounces of “Smoothlax”, rather than opting for the suppository option. I’m a breech loader not a mussel loader. As I watched the news and listened to the reports I became frustrated. It seems like a lack of common sense prevails. Everyone being stuck on their talking points.

I haven’t hunted in years, but I still own the guns I got as a youth and a couple that I’ve inherited from my dad. I target practiced last year and enjoy skeet shooting. I’m actually quite a dead eye. In fact, both of my eyes are dead. Nature is fairly safe within my sights. I often wonder why I target practice if I seldom go hunting. Maybe I want to have a better chance of hitting the targets the next time I go target practice. When I do pick up a gun I remember the things that my dad taught me and what I learned from that gun class many years before.

My guns are all tucked far away in closets with no shells or bullets to be found in the house. I’ve talked to my kids about guns and they are acutely aware of the danger of a gun. So, to all those that believe I should break them up and melt them down, I can’t stand with you. To all my hunter friends or non-hunter gun owning friends who believe that the world will come to an abrupt end if more restrictions are placed on gun purchases, I most definitely can’t stand with you.

I was astounded to find that after the Sandy Hook massacre gun sales went up because people were afraid their right to buy weapons was going to be taken away. Who are these people? It doesn’t work like that. I would be infuriated if my right to have a colonoscopy was taken away. This is something that could really save my life. Having a gun in my house to protect myself has not been proven to be an effective measure to date (Please don’t bring up the revolutionary war here). Oh, wait. There was that time when…..No, I’m sorry I was thinking of when the boy took his father’s gun and shot his brother.

There will not be a “Red Dawn” (Patrick Swayze movie and recently remade). The invaders will come bearing SCUD missiles, nuclear explosives, bacteria or our very own AR-15s that we will sell them at high prices – with the belief that we will just buy more AR-15s to make a killing on more sales – because we are free to do this.

Man, was I hungry. Two days with no food. Then comes the Magnesium Citrate and more bathroom time. What can one do as their insides fall like warm springtime laxative rain drops from their frame? Back to the TV and its commercials with people eating foods of all kinds. I was so hungry. I tried not to move. I watched the news. Me having no food was nothing compared to innocent people losing their family members. I thought about my wife who goes to work as a teacher every day and every day thinks about someone coming in with a gun. I thought how she has to do lock down drills, how the middle school she just moved from has seen two kids bring guns to school this year within the first 3 months of the school year.

I watch the media and politicians try to decide if a person killing fourteen people is a “Terrorist”. Of course the person(s) is a terrorist, no matter if they are a Christian from Oklahoma or called ISIS or a Daesh Bag. In this latest instance I saw that the guns were gotten legally. The big question should be what are we going to do about this? Kind and attentive readers, I think that question is being asked by many.

Immediately, many others (some wanting to become our next President) like to talk about this being a problem with mentally ill people. How can we stop mentally ill people from getting guns? If we look at other countries, who oddly enough also have some mentally ill people, this discussion should quickly go away. For example, let’s look to the Australians. Both Australians and U.S. citizens have about 1 in 5 people that suffer from some form of mental illness each year. Crikey. That’s the same. But we have 10.5 gun related deaths for every 100,000 people and they have .86 for every 100,000 people. I’m no genius, so I don’t really understand how 86% of a person dies (aside from listening to Justin Bieber).

I was starting to hallucinate as I waited for my ride to the doctor’s office and for some reason I believed it wasn’t that difficult to figure out a way to lessen the access to guns. I believe that is needed and it does not threaten the right of the people to keep and blah blah blah. Yes, kind reader, I just said blah, blah, blah to the second amendment.  The Supreme Court sort of said that when in 1939 they said that it was not an “unlimited’ right.  The right to bear arms began as “a civic duty to act in concert in the defense of the state.” I think the new civic duty is to act in concert to limit access to guns in the defense of the state.

Here are my points concocted under serious hunger hallucinations and suffering from delusional proportions of optimism, naiveté and some kind of medically approved sedative.

  1. All states follow all provisions of the Brady Bill
  2. Gun shows follow all provisions of Brady Bill
  3. There are no internet sales of guns.
  4. Anyone wanting to buy any gun needs a training certification. Certification can last x number of years. It’s a crime for certified buyer to sell to uncertified buyer.
  5. There are certain guns – Like the AR-15 – that don’t really have a purpose, other than for those who fancy themselves Patrick Swayze (Red Dawn Patrick not Dirty Dancing Patrick) or stocking up for the end of the world. I think they should just not be available. But, in an effort not to tread on someone, if it can’t be taken off the market, it can, at a minimum, be made more difficult to access.
  6. Buyout to gun manufacturers. Look at books over last 5 years, average sales from undesirable guns and pay them not to produce them. They are paid for x number of years and can’t start-up again. Other manufacturers currently not making them can’t start. Sound crazy? We paid farmers to not grow crops for years. We pay farmers to grow corn when it’s an otherwise money losing venture.

Numbers 4 and 5 may be the most annoying to those wanting access to guns. But what’s the hurry? Why does anyone need that gun instantly and why does anyone need an AR-15 instantly? The second amendment talks of a right to keep and bear arms, not “keep and bear arms immediately”.

Listen, kind and dear gun friend, if the Ruskies have us all pinned down at I-90 and we’re the last hope for our country (in sector 8), I will be appreciative of the knowledge you gained from the extra NRA sponsored workshops it took to get your AR-15. You will be the leader by default of our rag tag group of holdouts, and you alone will get to draw the map in the dirt explaining how we will move on the enemy.

All of these thoughts were in my head as the nurse put the IV in my arm and they put me under for the procedure. I awoke over an hour later and was handed a “report” on my procedure.

I read the report with pride at first. I was happy to see: Anal canal – normal. This piece of paper would go far to lay to rest certain claims of me being a “big ass”. But under the “Comments” section I read “unusually tortuous colon requiring extensive wash”. This was troubling. I certainly knew what “extensive wash” meant and have to say I was a bit embarrassed. You’ve all heard that saying about wearing clean underwear in case you are in an accident. Well, I had just spent two days cleaning my colon to receive this less than gold star comment.

“Tortuous” doesn’t sound as bad as it is. It’s a longer colon than normal – that is very twisty. Maybe the medical profession dropped the ball on this name. Tired of trying to come up with some kind of Latin term, someone just went with “Tortuous” because many times these things show up needing an “extensive wash”. I don’t know if my colon started out as Tortuous or if it got that way. From speaking to the doctor it sounds as if colons can change over time. The chances are that mine changed somewhat over time.

While leaving the doctor’s office, still somewhat sedated, I had the epiphany that my colon is a lot like the NRA. Both started out differently many years ago and have changed over the years. My colon required an extensive wash and it seems to me that the NRA could also use a cleansing, to free up the politicians and politicos hiding at every turn. I received some education about my colon and I’m hoping to continue to improve my diet so it won’t fail on me. I hope all the good hearted NRA members can move past the second amendment rhetoric that the politicos have brought to the table in the last forty years, and once again play more of a positive role by making gun education its primary role.

Until recently I hadn’t thought much about my colon and how it affects the rest of my body. It took me two days of fasting, heavy sedation and a camera inside me to learn something. There’s currently a big camera in the rectum of the United States (I sort of picture that being someplace around Los Angeles. Sorry, Los Angeles, but look at the map and you’ll get what I mean) and it’s looking at the NRA. The NRA, like my colon, is part of this country and it’s not going anywhere. But it needs to make some changes to help the country stay healthy and alive.

Sadly yours,

Jason Spafford

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