Clark Hollow Ramblings: The correct diagnosis

It sounds silly to say it, but before you can fix something, you have to know what’s wrong with it. A couple of years ago I purchased a backpack blower to sweep the driveway off after mowing the yard. Less than a year later, the engine would not run at operating speed. I took it back to the nice folks who sold it to me in Front Royal. After taking the thing apart, they found a completely stopped-up spark arrestor screen, just in front of the muffler.

This little cone-shaped screen is mandated by the federal government. I told the fellow working on the blower not to put it back in, and he politely told me he couldn’t do that, but I could. I told him to put in a new one, and I would take care of the problem the next time it happened.

A couple of weeks ago I was using the blower and it lost power. Again, it would not run at operating speed. It takes some special tools to get the blower apart, so I visited my friend in Huntly who has every tool known to man. After pulling off the cover, the air box, the recoil starter and what seemed like half the engine, I got to the muffler. I took the muffler off and pulled out the little screen. It was as clean as a new penny. I couldn’t believe it. Long story short, I was suffering from an incorrect diagnosis. I put the blower back together and pulled out the sparkplug.

There, between the center electrode and the side or grounding electrode was a tiny piece of black material about the size of a pepper flake. I grinned at my presumptuousness, cleaned the sparkplug gap with a business card, and reinstalled the plug. The machine hummed along like a new one.

Why did I tell you this story? I wanted to illustrate the problems you can get into with an incorrect diagnosis. A correct diagnosis, knowing what the problem is, is essential to fixing the problem. Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is not.

Our country is suffering horribly at the hands of terrorists. These people take innocent prisoners and behead them in front of cameras, and send the video to the world through the digital media. They desire to enslave the entire female population of the world. Christians and others who do not believe as they do are infidels and deserve to die, through whatever means they can dream up, including strapping suicide vests on children and sending them into crowded places to kill as many of us as they can.

As a country, if we are to do anything about this problem, we have to understand what we are up against. I have no intention of damning an entire religion, but we must look at what the people who commit these dastardly crimes against humanity have in common, and what we can do about it. Do you really think that more gun controls that only affect law abiding citizens will solve this problem? If you do, then I respectfully submit that your diagnosis of the problem is wrong.

I do not believe that law-abiding gun owners should have to suffer under a plethora of new gun restrictions so that those who refuse to address the real problem can feel better about themselves.

Having said that, there is no question that there are some things that could be done, such as the “no fly, no buy” provision that was been suggested. Background checks for sales of firearms at gun shows should also be considered and debated. But you are just whistling Dixie if you think that is going to solve the problem.

The greater and more important common denominator here is the terrorists, themselves, and what they believe, what their goals are and what they are willing to do to achieve their goals. Some use suicide vests. Some use knives. Some use guns. Some use airplanes, flying them into skyscrapers and the Pentagon. And some of the worst attacks we have seen were with bombs, whether killing and maiming people in the Boston Marathon or blowing airliners out of the sky. Until and unless we put our big boy pants on and correctly diagnose the problem, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of fixing it.

What can we do about the terrorists? I wish I had all of the answers, but I don’t. But I do believe that we have to give our law enforcement people better tools to identify and disrupt threats to our country from within and without. I think we need to go back to some of the temporary changes we made after 9/11. We also need to take a much closer look at friends, family and associates of the terrorists. I am no lawyer, but if we are unable to break their wall of silence we should consider more prosecutorial actions which get to acts of aiding and abetting the terrorists.

But we must be certain that we are addressing the real problem and that our diagnosis is correct. We can make “feel good” changes ’til the cows come home, but until and unless we are ready to look the politically correct crowd in the eye and deal with the elephant in the room, proposals for more gun controls are nothing but a diversion and are about as helpful as a bucket of warm spit.

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