Maybe there was something to be said for the swashbucklers. It’s true that to do their job properly they had to kill other people. But at least when they did the dirty deed they were in their opponents’ faces. They got to see their victims die up close and personal. There was no escape from the intimacy of the act.
And at least as portrayed by Errol Flynn the victim usually had a fighting chance. They’d grab their own swords and engage their opponent. The better fighter usually won. The dying person at least could die with some dignity: they honorably defended their own life.
How quaint. How old fashioned, this up close and personal means of killing people. Thanks to firearms we can do the dirty business from a distance. And we can do it so much quicker. Often one well-placed shot will do it. But for insurance purposes get yourself a revolver, or one of the plethoras of multiple shot and semiautomatic weapons out there. But don’t worry, Mr. Criminal. You still can do from across the room! With the right equipment you can do it from across the street. Your victims will be just as dead but hopefully you won’t hear their cries of anguish. You can high tail it out of there while they are just beginning their death throes.
Some of you are likely thinking, “Why are you taking on this topic? Don’t you know what a hopeless cause gun control is in 21st Century America? Didn’t Congress recently gleefully allow the Brady Bill to walk into the sunset? Don’t you realize that many gun owners in America will part with their spouse or first-born before they part with their gun? Why talk about this issue when you know a hundred years from now guns will still be as plentiful in America as popcorn?”
You are right. Gun control is probably a hopeless cause in this country. We are addicted to our firearms. About 30,000 people a year in America die from firearms. While many of us root for the body of Terri Schiavo to survive another year connected to a feeding tube because Oh Lord, we must respect life at all costs, we are inured to the 17,000 or so suicides last year that were accomplished rather quickly with a gun, or the 12,000 or so murdered with a firearm. Yep, of course we’re all angry enough that these people died. We’re particularly angry with the murderers, so much so that a majority of us want these killers put to death. But apparently we’re not angry enough to do something practical to dramatically reduce the problem, like get the guns out of our houses and our communities.
I realize of course that “Outlawing guns will mean only outlaws will have guns.” But I also realize that your odds of dying from a gun rise dramatically if you actually have firearms in your house. It’s likely not going to be some burglar coming through the window that will want to kill you with a firearm. Sad to say it’s more likely to be your spouse, or your child, your estranged lover or someone you know intimately. And most likely when they murder you they can make the case that it wasn’t premeditated. Rather it will likely be done during a moment of heat when their common sense will scoot out the backdoor.
It’s time to take down our crosses and crucifixes. Let’s pay homage to what we truly worship: our firearms. They mean so much to us that, here in Virginia for example, guns can be worn openly in public and we explicitly allow adults to bring guns into teenage recreation centers. Mind you we can’t give our daughters a Midol to take to school if they get cramps. And of course we must teach abstinence in sex education class but give short shrift (or skip entirely) the section on contraception. But it’s perfectly okay for an adult to bring their gun into a youth recreation center. Any wonder why our children grow into dysfunctional adults? Talk about mixed up messages!
So I know it’s pointless but apparently people like me must still point out the obvious connections now and then: firearms make it much, much easier to kill people. As a result there are doubtless lots more dead people than there would otherwise be. Yesterday, while America wrung its collective hands over the brain dead Terri Schiavo, a 16-year old boy killed himself and nine other people on an Indian Reservation in Minnesota. He also left seven others wounded. If it made the front page at all it was way below the fold. This teen self identified himself as a “NativeNazi” and an “Angel of Death”. Yep, he sure killed these people all right. It was his fault. But those nine other people might not have died if our cultural values were not so wrapped around our phallic shaped guns. Rather than give up our guns we instead chose to inculcate a pro gun culture that made it very easy for this messed up boy to get a gun and quickly murder nine wholly innocent people.
Yes, yes I know: if we had gun control only criminals would have guns! But if we gave up the gun culture there would be no demand for guns. Do you think drug traffickers would be rushing across the border if we didn’t demand our narcotics? The same is true with guns. It can be done.
As John Donne wrote:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…
We are all connected. We can celebrate freedom in our country, but freedom in this case has the obvious consequence that lots of others will have their lives cut short through the simple and expeditious use of a firearm. I say that if you think that your choice to own guns affects no one but yourself then you are in denial. I say that if you believe in and promote a pro-gun gun culture then your values rubbing off on others of less sound minds will result in a lot of those guns being used to kill people. I say even though you are not to blame for these crimes that you did not commit, you should be troubled by the message your behavior sends.
But you can take a stand. You can say: I will not own a gun. You can say: even though I would never use my gun to harm an innocent person or myself, I care about myself, my family, my neighbors, my country and my world. So I will not own a gun. You can send a message that your love for your fellow human beings transcends your interest in firearms. Of course it’s not easy, but it is the right thing to do.