When we listen to gun advocates breathing fire over the last few months and defending to the death (everyone else's) their right to own a Bazooka for home protection or hunting squirrels, we invariably hear them cite the second amendment and - despite not actually taking part in well-regulated militias - the sanctity of their right to own any manner of gun they please.
For those of us sickened by the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America and the pernicious political influence of organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA), it's easy to take a cynical viewpoint and assume that hard-core gun advocates and their lobbying groups could not actually care less about the Constitution. It's very tempting to assume these "gun nuts" are actually far more interested in playing soldier and bolstering their own self image by walking around with a fully-loaded Glock.
We could also fixate on the idea that their fervent desire to pack heat reflects their psychotic delusions that a tyrannical U.S. government is looming and it's just a matter of time before we need to rise up to stop them from oh, I don't know, fixing roads, responding to national disasters, taking care of children and the elderly and providing basic health care to our citizens.
But in the words of Rodney King, can't we all just get along?
I'm as guilty as anyone of painting gun advocates with that broad brush. And I feel bad about it. I truly do. So in an effort to turn over a new leaf, I've opened myself to the idea that these AR-15-lugging folk are indeed supreme patriots whose sole concern is protecting our Constitution and national creed.
I mean, they couldn't be that despicable to twist the U.S. Bill of Rights for their own silly gun fetish or paranoid frame of mind, could they?
So in opening my mind to the possibility that they really are only trying to be good citizens, I suddenly came up with something more rare than a sane sentence from Wayne LaPierre: A Solomon-like solution to our ongoing national battle over guns that should satisfy everyone involved and give all due credit for the Constitutional indignation driving gun advocates.
Declare the single-ball, 18th century musket the national civilian weapon of the United States.
As soon as President Obama is sworn in for his second term, I intend to forward my idea for creation of a national manufacturing capability for these throw-back weapons. After an exhaustive 30 minutes of research, I am recommending that the new "national firearm" be modeled after the 1776 version of the famed Charleville Musket.
All other firearms not in use by military or law enforcement personnel would be made illegal and owners of those weapons would have 90 days to turn them in for a shiny new, 2013 single-ball musket.
Oh, I know what you're thinking: These would be highly ineffective weapons due to the musket's well-known inaccuracy -- not to mention the length of time it takes to prepare to fire just a single ball. Then there's the pain of how long it takes to reload one of these things. And let's not even get into having to lug a powder horn or flask around and the impact it will have on the sleek line of your blue jeans.
But these are all just excuses for not doing what needs to be done.
Of course, there will be critics and naysayers but my solution seems to address the concerns of all sides of the argument tearing our nation apart.
As we eventually get all of the "old" weapons off our streets, mass murders by a lone, crazed gunman will be all but impossible as the shooter would be unable to get off more than one shot before even a group of Rascal-driving senior citizens would have time to disarm him.
Gang-related shootings would decline dramatically as young thugs simply find it too embarrassing to announce they're going to "bust a ball in your ass" while imploring you to wait just a few minutes for that to actually happen.
And best of all, we can again be a united country, able to have calm, civil conversations about the place of guns in our society because everyone will be happy.
Those of us who believe American "gun culture" is a significant threat to national security will feel better because the sheer aggregate firepower within our borders will be reduced to almost nothing.
And our gun-toting brothers and sisters will be happy because we will have given them a very important gift - the gift of listening to them. They'll know we heard them when they kept saying that their overwhelming patriotic concern was the sanctity of our Bill Of Rights and they'll be thrilled that we have agreed with their Constitutional right to bear, well, some kind of firearm.
Best of all, they'll get to shoulder the same kind of rifle our forefathers envisioned when the second amendment was penned, thus paying true homage to the creed they love so much.
They love the second amendment, we love the second amendment and we all get to truly live the lifestyle that this part of the Bill of Rights was meant to engender: The right to bear an awkward, inaccurate, pain-in-the-ass, single-shot weapon.
Finally, even the NRA gets to continue moving forward as our little national gun club. Sure our gun ownership will be so defined and simplified that they'll have zero political clout or reason to exist. But they can still be a social club, hold weenie roasts and stage contests to see which of their members can actual hit Bambi with a goofy, smooth-bore long rifle.
And it can all be done with just minor rebranding because, since there will really only be one kind of gun in America, the NRA can easily become the NMA (National Musket Association).
Doesn't that alone make this a great idea?