This one is …complicated.

It is going to be about the NRA, in all its glory, but also about a science fiction story that I read years and years ago. It…I mean the story…was all about dying. Which means that it had a certain prescience to it. As the best of science fiction often does.

First, the NRA. I saw that it had responded to the students of Parkland and other schools who had led the March For Our Lives. I wasn’t at all surprised that the NRA mocked the young people, and (implicitly at least) made light of the deaths of their friends and family. It was bullying and insensitive and crude…and to be expected, because that’s what the NRA does. That’s how it works. To expect otherwise would be foolish, in not masochistic, on our part.

Second, the story. I wish I could remember the name of it, or the name of the author. But, it was all so long ago. Maybe fifty years, now.

Anyway, in the story, there are two great power blocs in the world—the West and the East. They are at war. But not a direct war. Because they both have nuclear weapons and that would be suicidal.

So, instead, each side goes after what military theorists refer to as “soft targets.” Civilians, that is, in places that are difficult to defend.

And their weapon? Both sides use human beings who have been turned into living missiles. They take an individual—usually a political criminal, or another sort of non-conformist—and sheer away his or her personality by means of drugs or lobotomies. Then, they insert firearms into the body of this person (the story, as I recall, opens with one such unfortunate soul, a woman, who has had her breasts replaced with needle guns). Then, they smuggle that individual into the other nation.

Next, this creature, at some pre-determined location, opens fire. Again, as I recall, the story begins in a crowded movie theater. The woman is sitting in the back. She stands and removes her blouse. The weapons in her body begin to fire. She sweeps the theater.

I won’t go over the rest of the story. But…spoiler alert…I will say that it ends with the main character realizing this endless carnage is driving people mad. They pick up a gun, pretend that they, too, are a killing machine…and the body count just keeps increasing. I don’t think it was stated directly in the story, but I assume that both sides in the War begin to descend into madness and anarchy.

As I say, I do wish I could recall the author. Perhaps someone out there will read this, recognize the tale, and send me a note.

But I mention all of this because…well…I remembered this story suddenly a while back. I did so when I heard that there is evidence that the NRA allegedly accepted funds from Russian agencies, and that Putin may have used the NRA as one of his innumerable cat’s paws to place Trump in the White House.

In other words, that War I mentioned? The one in the story? The one fought with terrorists? It’s real.

The only difference is that there is no need to maim normal humans in order that they might first kill and then drive men and women to madness. No. You simply hand out high-powered weapons on every street corner. And the murderously insane will come to you.

And we are going to have to decide how to deal with this situation. We have to decide how we will deal with a foreign nation that has declared war on us. We will have to decide how we shall deal with Putin and his men, who use poisons to assassinate their enemies on European soil, and diseased social media to kill and murder innocent children on our own.

And most of all…

Most of all…

We are going to have to ask how we shall deal with the men and women among us…the ones now mocking the young dead of Parkland and so many other places…who may have betrayed their nation, and given aid, and comfort, and weapons to an enemy that murders us by the score.

I cannot answer these questions. I have no suggestions. But I invite the debate.

For someday, and perhaps sooner rather than later, we will be forced to confront them…

The living robots.

The NRA.