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  • By Bruce Lloyd

Why not require—by law—that all Americans own a gun?

Big Guns, novel by former Congressman Steve Israel, 2018

Steve Israel recently retired from the U.S. House of Representatives after a 15 year stint, which, despite the minority status of his Democratic party for much of that time, appears to have left his sense of humor intact. His new satiric novel applies sharp elbows to plenty of the people and ideas that have become mainstream under the Trump presidency.

It’s also ‘ripped from the headlines’ as people used to say, since someone noticed that a local ordinance of the Georgia town of Kennesaw says that "every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm."

"If you're going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you're the criminal -- are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law-abiding citizen?" asked Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling, according to CNN.

Over the past 40 or so years, the National Rifle Association has moved from an organization promoting target shooting and piously advocating gun safety, to a politically connected advocate of guns for all as a solution to almost every problem, including increasingly prevalent gun massacres.

Israel transplants Kennesaw to small town Long Island, and populates his novel with a cast of Washington, D.C. legislators, a capital PR wizard with roots back home in L.I., a retired action movie star and fanatical activists of the far right, literally playing with high explosives, among others. In a Washington full of lawmakers terrified by the NRA, emerges the ‘guns for all law,’ advanced by a very green, but ambitious Congressman.

As Israel paints it, the House Speaker and Senate President are initially appalled by the proposal, but cynically back it when it starts to gain traction.

His speaker is clearly modeled on Bob Dole: “The Speaker absently fished through his empty shirt pockets for his pack of unfiltered Camels. Festersen continued: “Childcare! We’re spending billions on tax credits for parents to put their kids into cold, heartless daycare warehouses instead of being nurtured at their mother’s bosoms… Ending the childcare tax credits would free up billions of dollars. Which can be used to purchase firearms. We call them PSTCs—Personal Survival Tax Credits.”

Sort of like Obamacare. Or separating refugees from their small kids.

In a time when many of us wake in the morning wondering what new inane, insane proposal has been hatched in the nation’s capital, Big Guns is a fun read, unless some lawmaker takes it literally and acts.

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