I don’t know what to say anymore, except that I am willing to give up my guns, which I have never aimed at a human being, which are safely locked away and haven’t left home in years, if our elected “leaders” finally find the backbone to tell the gun lobby to stick its profiteering where the sun don’t shine.

Another mass shooting at another school, 17 dead in Parkland, Fla. Maybe we’re not numb yet, after all, because the question of “what can we do?” has lingered longer than after Sandy Hook and Columbine.

The articulate and brave student survivors of that massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have organized and spoken up to challenge adults supposedly in charge to do something. Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell assault weapons. That’s good; but the problem is, that’s not where nut cases go to get assault weapons. Too many gun sales are transacted via small businesses, gun shows and classified ads.

Florida, along with Dick’s and Walmart, raised the legal age for purchasing a gun to 21 from 18. I’m not sure how that’s going to help. Sure, there’s some scientific backup that cognitive function matures during that three-year span. But is it really going to make a difference? You can get a driver’s license when you’re 16, but you have to take tests. Why not tests, or background checks, before you can have a gun?

Delta Air Lines also took a bold step, severing its ties with the National Rifle Association by ending pricing privileges for NRA members. The Georgia Legislature, led by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, responded by eliminating fuel tax breaks for Delta. Several cities, from Birmingham to New York, immediately made overtures to Delta to relocate.

That shows how stupid and how immorally beholden to the NRA our people under the Gold Dome are. They would risk losing the state’s largest employer, a huge taxpayer, arguably the key cog in Georgia’s economic engine, and a brand that’s second only to Coca-Cola, just so the NRA can blow its nose in their back pockets?

It makes me sick.

But the prospect of prosperity losing out to blind faith and blind-folded culture isn’t limited to guns. Georgia business leaders had high hopes of luring Amazon’s “second headquarters” – with a $5 billion campus and 50,000 high-paying jobs. Those hopes were jeopardized when Amazon took a look at various “religious liberty” proposals floating around the legislature, and the Delta snub didn’t help.

Big corporations like to make their homes in business-friendly states. Now, you can cry “corporate welfare” all you want, but the bottom line is jobs and tax revenue – the common welfare, if you will.

Cagle, the presumed next governor, and his acolytes would rather impose their blend of God (the Old Testament version), guns, and “family values” on job creators like Amazon and Delta, citizens be damned.

But I digress. I haven’t yet resolved what to do about mass slaughter. That’s because I don’t know. But here’s where things seem to point. Don’t raise the minimum age to purchase a gun. Ain’t gonna help. Don’t arm teachers, as Donald Trump suggested. (Best-case scenario: An assassin bent on slaughter is gunned down by a teacher after only two or three people, instead of 17, have been killed. That’s not a solution.)

DO require background checks. Require some sort of testing, as with driver’s licenses. Ban assault weapons entirely. Take some sort of oversight of the sale of guns through small businesses like pawn shops.

But mainly, disarm the NRA. This is an organization that began with the ideal of marksmanship and shooting safety. It has also championed conservation. But it has devolved into a demagogue trained on making you afraid, and telling you who to blame. And putting your dues into the coffers of Casey Cagle and his like.

I take back my opening sentence. I’m not going to give up my guns. I have promised to pass them along to my son. I know he will enjoy them. And I keep my promises, which is more than I can say for some people who took an oath of office.


I was just going to skip commenting on the death of Billy Graham, but then I read something by my friend Marshall Jenkins, who is kinder than I am.

So … I never really liked Billy Graham. When I was growing up, he was part and parcel of the hellfire-and-brimstone culture that surrounded me; you know, get saved or spend eternity burning in hell. I was never dragged to a Billy Graham crusade, but we always watched him on TV.

So, though Billy Graham cast no spell over me, I will say he doubtlessly influenced many lives for the better. He held to his values. He was never linked to any sort of scandal, like so many later televangelists. I understand why so many mourned him.

Moving to a different set of moral standards, Donald Trump is being accused by a porn star (let me emphasize, porn star) of reneging on hush money to keep a sexual affair quiet. (Has anyone checked on whether Melania has purchased an assault rifle?)

Trump is also being (mostly) criticized for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. It will be quite some time before we will know definitively whether the tariffs helped or harmed, but the criticism is bi-partisan, and Trump’s chief economic advisor resigned after the announcement. Just after that Trump fired his Secretary of State. Turnover in the Trump administration.is like being the short-order cook at an I-Hop. It’s no wonder he changed his mind on going to North Korea.

Toys ‘R’ Us is closing its doors. Kaput. Parents and grammarians alike are cheering.

J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome.

J. Bryant Steele was first published when he was 14 and has made a living stringing words together for 40 years. But the main reason he writes is to avoid housework. He has won 50 or so writing awards. He is a graduate of the Grady School of Journalism (The University of Georgia) and of Education for Ministry (The University of the South). He also publishes poetry and fiction. He is the proud father of two magnificent adult children. He is also very opinionated.