People AND Guns Kill People
Copyright 2012 by
Recently, a just-widowed woman shot and killed a prescription-drug-hunting intruder who broke into her home in Oklahoma. She was protecting her 3 month old baby. This woman was really a girl, only 18. She'd buried her husband less than a week earlier. Her act was nothing short of heroic.
I'm not loading that opening paragraph to support a point of view, one way or the other. Those are all facts.
This story tore me right down the middle.
I hate guns. Only shot once or twice in my life, years ago at a range. As a citizen, were I living in an area where I felt compelled to own a gun to protect my family, I'd move before buying a gun.
I don't find the pro gun contingent's case to be obtuse. I get it. I just don't agree with it. I've known gun owners; had a father in law who had a beautiful gun-filled oak cabinet, glass doored, all his hardware gleaming in its shining glory. But under lock and key. Safety was not taken lightly.
The politics of gun owners are disappointing at best, ignorant at worst. They lived literally in fear of having the government take their guns, or even more sinisterly, of the perceived bad guys lingering just outside their homes, ready to invade, once "that Obama" has confiscated their weapons.
It is the appalling lack of nuance, and accompanying ignorance that makes me so dismissive of pro-gun ideology. Whether it is their inability, or simply a horrific, wrong-headed choice, their unwillingness to distinguish, for example, the difference between the types of guns that many want abolished, and those that can be used for hunting and target shooting. It is the automatic and semi-automatic handguns and rifles that use high capacity clips that are at the root of BOTH sides of this goddamn argument. The NRA and its ilk think that if these weapons of war (and that is what they are, whatever use other than slaughter is there for high-capacity bullet magazines??) are deemed illegal, then the slippery slope has been watered and their single shot rifles and handguns are next.
Twenty-year-old loser (it's NOT name calling. Do you label sociopathic WINNERS?) Adam Lanza killed everybody he aimed at but two, in eight minutes or less. EVERY CHILD had more than one bullet wound, and more than a few had up to 11. Lanza, of course, employed a high capacity magazine on his semi-automatic 'Bushmaster' rifle, a weapon available at places as common as Walmart, for Christ Sake.
No one who is level-headed advocates for the outright abolition of guns. I certainly can understand people who were brought up in rural situations where guns were as much a part of the lifestyle and ingrained culture as wooden fencing. Most of those people I would imagine to be responsible gun owners who take safety precautions very seriously.
Hunting is a "sport" (hate calling it that) I never understood. Again, people brought up in the hunting culture, as long as it remains legal, will have the right to do so, and I do not question it or challenge their right to do it. I simply disagree with it. I know I'll never put myself in the position of having Dick Cheney shoot my face off.
The gun control advocates are not being panicky or wimpy when, each time these slaughters occur, they revisit the very logical idea of banning semi and automatic assault weapons. The panic is on the other side. The hugely reactionary faction of gun owners clings insipidly to the 2nd amendment, which is more outdated than my wardrobe.
Read what Mrs. McKinley in Oklahoma said after her ordeal:
"I wouldn't have done it, but it was my son," McKinley told ABC News Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO. "It's not an easy decision to make, but it was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn't going to be my son. There's nothing more dangerous than a woman with a child."
I have no beef with that explanation whatsoever. Not sure if I could do that, though a part of me thinks I would. And then live a little bit less comfortably in my own skin for the rest of my life.
But my real bone to pick with the gun folks revolves around their rigidity with the second amendment which anachronistically reads:
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed".
If we truly want to honor both the spirit and tradition of those words then, Muskets for Everyone!
We already have a well-regulated militia, known as the police force. And for the bigger picture, the Armed Forces. If we are not going to trust them to do their job, why are they even there? More importantly, if you don't trust our police and armed forces and feel compelled to surround yourself with a cache of weaponry, then it is you who should entertain the idea of moving to another country.
I have yet to hear anything but idiotic dialogue in support of making automatic weapons available to the public. They almost always fall back on the 2nd amendment, as there is no remotely rational defense of arming citizens in that fashion.
I grudgingly acknowledge that criminals will probably always have access to guns, no matter what laws get passed, what restrictions are put into place.
But hear me out. For every heroic standoff by the likes of Mrs. McKinley, aren't there probably four or five children each year in our country who accidentally shoot themselves upon discovering and then "playing" with their parent's gun?
Since 2002 alone, here is a partial list of mass-killings in the United States followed by the number of people injured or killed:
Elementary school in Connecticut 28
Movie theatre in Colorado 70
Sikh temple in Wisconsin 10
Hair Salon in Seal Beach, CA 9
Oikos University, Oakland, CA 10
IHOP in Carson City, NV 12
Political rally in Tucson, AZ 19
Hartford Beer Distributor in Connecticut 11
Virginia Tech University 32
Washington D.C. sniper 10
One decade. Two hundred and eleven people, injured or dead.
And these high capacity clips are not in large part responsible for that high number? Really?
And here is one kicker I read while researching this that pissed me off even further. Most of the killers, lone gunmen usually, purchased their weapons legally.
The politicians in Washington, with their disgusting lack of intestinal fortitude (balls, guts), continue to cave into the powerful NRA lobby in exchange for votes. These Jackals are, as usual, at the root of the problem.
Step one is to stand up to, and de-fang the NRA, and only Washington can do that. Giving an organization run by reactionary zealots (and I would call anyone who advocates a citizen's 'right' to own automatic weapons of any kind a reactionary zealot) that much power is, simply put, bad for business. The responsible, pragmatic gun owners may form a silent majority, which makes them only slightly less guilty, not unlike the millions of good Muslims who look the other way when Muslim extremists kill innocent people.
Back before comedian Dennis Miller moved significantly to the right of the political center, he had this to say, in his stand-up act, about the NRA:
"So, the NRA says we'll get their guns when we pry their cold, dead fingers off of 'em. Well….in a perfect world."
So, the since the NRA refuses to budge, to compromise, to even move the discussion beyond the 2nd amendment, I send the following message to them, conveyed in language that contextually, they will unfortunately understand all too clearly.
As the good-natured sheriff castigated Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid during their fleeing from the Super Posse: "It's over, don't you get that? Your times is over and you're gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where."
See you in Bolivia.