That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra,  Act 1, Scene 2

Unsilent Truth
July 27, 2016

Dewey Decimals and firearms


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Erasmus is said to have said, "When I get a little money I buy guns; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." Or something like that. No doubt, he would have been astounded to hear America's Luo president say, as he did on July 12, "We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book."

I had been unaware of this availability. Thinking that perhaps I live in the wrong kind of community, I have undertaken research and I must breathlessly supply readers with a report on my findings:

It transpires that in our notoriously violent society, there is such a thing as a Public Lending Arsenal. I have recently applied to the County Government for my own Arsenal Card, which I understand will permit me to enter any Public Lending Arsenal and check out old and new weapons for free. My research turned up quite a venerable one in Baltimore called the Enoch Pratt Free Arsenal, and I learned that the country is spotted with nearly 1,700 Public Lending Arsenals endowed by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. (The Public Arsenal in my hometown of Marion, Indiana, is one such.)

There is a 15-minute video on line detailing the renovation of the Public Lending Arsenal in TLD's headquarters metropole, Roanoke, Indiana (population: 1,706, 2013 est.).

Happily, if the opportunity to use borrowed firearms should pass during the lending period, it is possible to renew their use for an additional period and at no additional cost!

I have even learned that it is possible to use computers at many Public Arsenals that facilitate locating the precise weapon one may be looking for and to order guns not carried by them. It is even possible (mirabile dictu!) to put on hold guns one would like to examine but that are at present being used by other Shootists and hobbyists, and to borrow guns held by University and other Public Arsenals through a program called "Interarsenal Loan."

Many Arsenals, cognizant of their responsibilities to the community, observe a security practice of retaining the most dangerous weapons for use in the Arsenal only, in their Reference Firing Ranges.

Where I live, I am blessed with an embarrassment of borrowing opportunities, for my Fairfax County Arsenal Card will be honored by the Arlington County Arsenal System, the Alexandria Arsenal System, and the Falls Church Arsenal System.

I have yet to discover whether it will be honored by Washington City's "MLK Public Arsenal System," but given that the president himself lives there (in the City, not in the Arsenal) and no doubt knows what he is talking about, I have high hopes.

Many of these Lending Arsenals supplement the work of the 98,000 Public Teaching Arsenals (which are supported by federal, state, and local taxes and other subsidies and by compulsory-attendance laws and which often have their own lending arsenals) by conducting weekly (free!) seminars for children and adults that they may be trained in the proper use of the Arsenal and of the items available for borrowing. The Public Arsenals even have a section devoted to smaller weapons, with large colorful working parts for young Shootists, and specially designed firearms for those with a shooting disorder that results in holding a gun backwards.

For the researcher and serious student of armaments, there are collections where one may view, and in some cases even handle, the weapons of past luminaries, scholars, thinkers, and authors. All former U.S. presidents maintain huge and expensive collections of their own weapons of choice, and vast sums are donated by foreign governments for the maintenance of those collections.

Finally, in many jurisdictions card holders are encouraged to donate weapons they no longer wish to possess to the Arsenals, which periodically hold sales of the weapons at bargain prices. The weapons are catalogued and sorted for easy locating at the sales by tireless volunteers called Friends of the Arsenal, who manage the sales. Delighted buyers are often seen leaving the Public Arsenals on the occasion of these sales with armloads of guns, knives, bayonets, and explosives; and often, on the final day of the sale, the weapons are even sold by the bagful.

Other charities, such as Goodwill, hold similar sales, as do private schools and thrift stores, the latter normally keeping a healthy supply of firearms for sale throughout the year. Public-spirited citizens sometimes hold unauthorized public (and often even illegal!) events in their front yard or in concert with their neighbors where weapons of the more popular and lower-quality sort may be found.

National chains of large brick-and-mortar depots abound (Guns-A-Million), as do independent (but struggling) depots, usually bearing cute names. There are even websites that specialize in new firearms and accessories (e.g., amazonfirearms.com) and in previously owned ones (e.g., ABE Firearms). And there are the notorious economy stores (Big-K and Walmart), where they can be purchased. Of course, even at the discount stores, prices are often not accessible to the disadvantaged living in communities maintained by federal, state, and local governments.

And lest one be unsure of what firearms to borrow or buy, reviews of the best in firearms appear in Sunday supplements of the nation's great newspapers and news magazines (which may be read in the Public Lending Arsenals) and are heard on government-subsidized radio stations.

With so many outlets for obtaining weapons and so much assistance in their proper use, it is just no wonder that ours is such a violent society and that guns are easier to get your hands on than books. I mean, who bothers with books anymore, anyway?

P.S. Patrons of Public Lending Arsenals who have privacy concerns need have no fear: I happened to visit a local Arsenal today and I was cheered by a T-shirt worn by a middle-aged functionary that assures: "What happens in the Arsenal stays in the Arsenal." Ω

July 27, 2016

Published in 2016 by WTM Enterprises.

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