Enemy at the Gate: Of Guns and Bananas

In an experiment years ago, five monkeys were confined in an enclosure, in the middle of which stood a stepladder. From the ceiling, and within the monkeys’ reach from the top of the ladder, hung a bunch of bananas. Of course the monkeys wasted little time in making a move for the bananas. Unfortunately for them, as soon as they made the effort, the experimenters drenched them with cold water. This unpleasantness was directed at not only the monkeys on the ladder, but at all five of them—even those not currently attempting to reach the bananas.

Naturally, the monkeys’ enthusiasm for getting to the bananas was quickly, er, dampened. But it went beyond that. Any of the more stubborn (or perhaps simply dimmer-witted) monkeys who could still not resist the siren song of the tasty fruit, so close and yet so far, found that the other monkeys were unwilling to wait for the dousing, and instead physically attacked the banana-seeking monkeys in order to spare themselves the cold deluge that would otherwise soon follow.

It did not take long for even the most stubborn (or dimmest) monkey to decide that between the cold water and its cellmates’ attacks, there was nothing but hardship to come of trying to get at those bananas.

Next, a monkey was removed from the enclosure and replaced by a new one. The newcomer, not knowing how things worked in this enclosure, predictably made his own attempts to reach the bananas. Had the experimenters forgotten to pay the water bill, it would not have made any difference in the outcome, because no water was needed. The other four monkeys saw to it that the stranger never got close enough to trigger the hosing down.

After a time, a second monkey was removed and replaced, and again, the newcomer was quick to attempt to reach the forbidden fruit. Again, he was violently thwarted by his fellow monkeys, including the one who had never experienced a soaking/ When a third monkey was removed and replaced, this newcomer was similarly immediately set upon by his fellows when he headed for the ladder, including the two who knew nothing of the cold water.

This was repeated until the last of the five original monkeys had been replaced, so that none of the current residents had ever been sprayed with cold water, and still, the four who had been there for some time would beat the stuffing out of the fifth when he went for the stepladder, despite none of them having any idea why going for the bananas was wrong. The banana taboo was a rule of their little society, a rule that was sacred simply because “it had always been that way.”

All right, so what do monkeys and bananas have to do with American citizens and guns? Simply that we have no room for smugness. Monkeys aren’t the only primates who allow themselves to become slaves to social pressures—social pressures based on nothing that those succumbing to them can identify.

The only difference between us and the monkeys on that score is that human intellect has made it possible for some members of our own species to be the ones manipulating social pressure in furtherance of an agenda. And quite often, the agenda is “gun control.”

Sometimes the manipulators do not even bother to try to hide their machinations. In 1994, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, told the Washington Post, “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly, and banned.”

Likewise, former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder actually used the word “brainwash” in describing what needed to be done about Americans’ attitude toward guns: “We need to do this every day of the week, and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

In the early 2000s, the charitable group (the polite term for groups that buy the social changes they desire with cold hard cash) the Joyce Foundation funded the Entertainment Industries Council, whose sole purpose was to attempt to convince movie studios and television networks to portray guns as the real villains in their programming.

And just as the hose worked to turn monkeys into anti-banana crusaders, without the monkeys even knowing why, in the wake of these efforts, much of the American public has come to believe that “gun violence” can be dramatically reduced by the implementation of restrictive gun laws, without having the beginnings of a clue as to how they would do so.

They believe that banning so-called “assault weapons” is key, despite such firearms being used in a miniscule proportion of violent crimes. They believe that the answer to terrorism is to empower the government to block gun sales to people on the “terrorist watch list,” despite the fact that all acts of terrorism committed in the U.S. with guns were committed by people not on the list.

They believe that banning rifles chambered for the powerful .50 BMG cartridge is vital to Americans’ safety, despite their inability to cite a single instance of such a gun being used to kill in the U.S. They believe that the families of people murdered with guns should be able to sue gun manufacturers and retailers, despite those businesses not having had anything to do with the murders. And on and on.

At the time of this writing, the anti-gun social engineers appear to have been dealt a setback, with a new Gallup Poll finding public support for banning so-called “assault weapons” at an historic low across all demographics, despite prolonged intense effort (enthusiastically abetted by the mass media) on the part of gun-ban zealots to lead Americans to believe that such a ban is both “common sense” and utterly vital.

Perhaps some monkeys are finally learning to enjoy their bananas, despite the disapproval of those who think they can brainwash us.

A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denied that right. This inspired him to become active in gun rights advocacy.

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