The 2 Most Powerful Voluntary Acts on Earth: An Open Letter to my President & my Congress. ~ Youngbear Roth

Via elephant journal
on Apr 8, 2013
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Photo credit: tomomi 040
Photo credit: tomomi 040

When I was too young to deeply understand the two most powerful acts on earth, I had sex and I sold guns.

I had sex with all kinds of women and I sold all kinds of weapons to all kinds of people. No love or hate was involved—just a simple and complete ignorance of the profound responsibility that comes of being human.

My wife mentioned to me that President Obama has decided to look into the gun situation in this country. I want to explain the situation and how basic it is: how easy it is to understand. It, the situation, is not philosophical and not strictly political, it is always financial.

The business of taking life is the most prosperous and perversely creative endeavor on the planet and in space.

In space it is an exciting and technologically challenging program, while on earth it is a devastating situation; Mr. President, in politics we call this spin.

In the United States this is the situation:

“Bullets,” says UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “are at the center of two-thirds of all U.S. murders…,” reports Daily Finance in their December 19, 2012 issue.

Weapons on the streets of America take one of two journeys to becoming available; the guns are either sold over the counter or they are smuggled across our borders from as distant as the Far East or as close as South America. Firearms sold over the counter are often sold illegally. John Q puts his money on the counter while the commission sales clerk prepares to fill out the federal forms. Here we are largely on the honor system.

The question on the form reads, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” The sales clerk reads the question while slowly shaking his head, “You’ve never been convicted of a felony, have you?” John Q answers, “Of course not.” This is how it goes for the next ten minutes of asking the required federal form questions dealing with every aspect of John Q’s life: mental, emotional, physical, legal and financial.

The millions of forms are turned over to federal offices where the best we can hope for is that they are spot-checked. This is to say that we have a most complete set of laws surrounding the sale of guns. So long as it is understood that we pay no attention to the laws or we arrest and plea bargain, gun laws do not slow down or direct the flow of bullets; however, in this fashion a great deal of money flows freely.

Guns are not sold because it is our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, because we keep and bear arms no matter our felony records, our mental institution history, our failure to fill out the paperwork honestly, our being of legal age, our waiting for the legal cooling off period, our license to carry concealed weapons, etc. ad nausea. Guns are sold for the money, and it is this money that insures a legal defense in court when one is charged with owning or selling weapons illegally. Eventually, these guns find their way onto the streets.

The other way guns reach the streets is very much the same way drugs reach the streets: when Americans of all stripes and all stations participate in the smuggling of guns —private citizens do it and the government does it. When civilians do it, it is smuggling. When the government does it, it is arms trade—English on the cue ball: more spin.

Just for clarity before the smoke screens go up and the situation is being investigated, I want to speak as one who has sold guns over the counter illegally and has smuggled contraband and lived on both ends of the barrel. Either end is enough to make you shit your pants.

People do not kill. Guns do not kill. People with guns kill.

The availability of the guns brought to you by the people who manufacture them, legislate them and sell them, and the people who use the guns are all responsible.

The two most powerful voluntary acts on earth are taking life and creating life.

The gun situation does not create life, it only takes life. If we begin to seriously prosecute to the “full extent of the law,” guns and people will not take life as much or as often. That would, at least, be the beginning of a much more difficult but infinitely more valuable journey: teaching our children the value of human life, law, and peaceful resolution.

Mr. President and ladies and gentlemen of the congress, it is my fervent hope that someday we can take that to the streets.


Youngbear Roth 2010Youngbear Roth is a retired Integral yoga therapist, an academic research scientist in mental health and an East-West journalist. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife–She Who Spreads Light–for 40 years.



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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


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8 Responses to “The 2 Most Powerful Voluntary Acts on Earth: An Open Letter to my President & my Congress. ~ Youngbear Roth”

  1. Traci Gunn says:

    Well said, YB. Thank you.

  2. Bro David says:

    A very honest piece of writing with solid ideas based on reality NOT politics – I would like to see more article by YB Roth – I believe he has an honest finger on the pulse of modern civilization

  3. Glenwood says:

    While I share the sentiment of much of the piece, I'd like to point out that we are not "largely on the honor system" in the US. For the last 15 years, FFLs (Federal Firearm Licensees – anyone engaged in the business of selling guns or ammunition) have been required to use the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, From the FBI's website: "Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials."

  4. Author says:

    Glenwood: Your facts are correct but sadly they are incomplete. Thank you for bringing up this aspect of weapons sales. It is extremely easy to do business without an FFL license (see post below), and as the article stated, we have a complete set of gun laws – including this and other "required" licenses – but they are not enforced, and may themselves offer very lucrative loopholes, which makes them of negligible value.

    Posted January 1, 2012: :

    A recent study comparing gun shows in California (a state that regulates gun shows and private firearm transfers) with gun shows in states with little to no such regulation found that at gun shows in states with less regulation, straw purchases were more common, armed attendees selling guns were more common, and vendors were more likely to sell assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles.1

    A study by ATF found that 25% to 50% of gun show vendors are unlicensed.2
    ATF reviewed over 1,500 of its investigations and concluded that gun shows are a “major trafficking channel,” associated with approximately 26,000 firearms diverted from legal to illegal commerce. Gun shows rank second to corrupt dealers as a source for illegally trafficked firearms.3

    From 2004 – 2006, ATF conducted 202 investigative operations at 195 guns shows, or roughly 3% of the gun shows held nationwide during this period. These operations resulted in 121 arrests and the seizure of 5,345 firearms.4
    For additional information about gun shows, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see LCPGV’s Gun Shows Policy Summary.

    Wintemute, Garen J., Gun Shows Across a Multistate American Gun Market: Observational Evidence of the Effects of Regulatory Policies, 13 Inj. Prevention 150, 154-155 (2007), at &ldquo ; [↩]
    U.S. Department of Justice & Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Gun Shows: Brady Checks and Crime Gun Traces 4 (Jan. 1999). [↩]
    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Commerce in Firearms in the United States xi, 1, 12 (Feb. 2000). [↩]
    Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Investigative Operations at Gun Shows i, iv-v (June 2007). [↩]

  5. Beelzebabe says:

    "The business of taking life is the most prosperous and perversely creative endeavor on the planet…"

    So very beautifully put… and, I very much agree.

  6. Munni says:

    Far East=S America–let us stop the prodiction of guns-All guns & bullets= lets get all facts on that = who produces and is there monopoly in production of guns

  7. Linda V. Lewis says:

    A brave and factual article–I hope it does make it to President Obama and the conflicted Congress!

  8. P C Niles says:

    Youngbear Roth: Your letter to President Obama and Congress is an eye-opener for me, and you have a unique position on this matter, based on your experiences. I can't honestly say I agree with every position you've posited here (specifically, "The availability of the guns brought to you by the people who manufacture them, legislate them and sell them, and the people who use the guns are all responsible.") but I do agree with you adamantly that guns only take life, and the basis of distribution is rooted in financial gain. Overall, you have given me a different understanding to the matter which I find very educational. Thank you.