We could talk about Russian interference in our elections. We could talk about the so-called president of our country who tweets from his wherever. The hurricanes at last seem to have taken a break. Global warming (aka climate-change) denialists are old stuff. Raging fires in drought-stricken California are too non-partisan, at least for the moment.

So maybe the two most column-worthy issues are the Las Vegas massacre, and “get those kneeling sunzabitches off the field,”

As I write, investigations into the motive and connections of the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who had accumulated an arsenal of weapons and ammunition and had stored up explosive materials apparently for more, continue. Maybe he was “just” a psychopath seeking attention. Maybe. Well, the murder of 58 people (maybe more now), not including his own cowardly suicide, and the wounding of more than 500 others surely made him think he was “important.” But there's more to the story.

Assuming a 13-year-old can claim legal ownership of firearms, I've been a gun owner since I turned 13: a single-shot 22 rifle. Over time, I've accumulated three more firearms. My family had seven kids, six of them boys. My dad and we boys hunted, we ate what we shot … and what we caught in the Solomon River. We never talked about getting an AK-47 or AR-15, let alone accumulating a deadly arsenal to make us feel more masculine ... you know, like boys with bigger “whatevers.”

Most households aren't weaponized, but the U.S. — with 5 percent of the world's population — has half of the world's guns. According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries.

U.S. gun murders are 25 times higher than in 22 other wealthy nations. (More at tinyurl.com/yay5n5y2)

Firearm manufacturers love selling lots of guns. Lots of money. And the NRA isn't exactly isolated from manufacturer bucks. Following the Aurora, Colo., massacre in 2012, and Gabby Giffords' tragic wounding in Arizona, Forbes Magazine had this to say:

“Over 50 firearms-related companies have given at least $14.8 million to NRA according to its list for a donor program that began in 2005. That was the year NRA lobbyists helped get a federal law passed that limits liability claims against gun makers. Former NRA President Sandy Froman wrote that it ‘saved the American gun industry from bankruptcy,’ according to Bloomberg.” And that was over a decade ago. (tinyurl.com/ybcehvrv)

Things don't seem to have changed much. A paranoid meme from the NRA is that “Guns don't kill people; people kill people.” Yeah, well. Some weapons certainly make it easier for more people to kill more people more quickly, and from farther away. It's all even easier if you have an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle fitted with a legal “bump-stock” — which essentially makes it an automatic. Or maybe six or eight bump-stocked assault rifles within reach, and a little tannerite and gasoline on hand to blow up anybody coming to get you.

The Second Amendment speaks of the need for a “well-regulated” militia. At that time in our history, there was great concern about a standing army. In times of trouble, a well-regulated militia might then rise to the task of defending the republic. From the NRA and assorted paranoids the idea of militia seems essentially to cover the unregulated ... and unorganized. That is, unless you leave out the 917 organized hate groups in the U.S. reported by Southern Poverty Law Center — including the seven being tracked in Kansas.

Well, the next time I attend an event where the flag is being flown and the national anthem being played or sung, I may be on one knee. Not in disrespect for the music or the cloth, but in prayer for the troubled republic for which it stands. Donald Trump, the embarrassment now inhabiting the White House, is free to call me an S.O.B. Vice President Pence is free to spend our tax money to come, get up and leave theatrically. That's the First Amendment.

Bob Hooper, a fourth-generation western Kansan, writes from his home in Bogue.