Claire is weeping. She just told me about the mass killings of teachers and pupils at a Newtown, CT elementary school. It is a horrendous body count. I don’t know the figures—I’m assuming I’ll see more details than I might wish for if I watch TV today, or this week, even.
Gunfire. We don’t get a lot of that in Somers—but then, neither does Newtown, I’m guessing. I’ve never owned a gun. I’ve thought about it. But in the end I decided that guns are not a part of my life and they are not a part of my community (audibly, at least). People might say, “What if you had to defend yourself?” and I guess I would simply die. For 56 years, I’ve done without and in all that time I have never once said to myself ‘Boy, if I only had a gun right now!’
Things might have been different for me if I had taken to carrying a gun. Having a gun near to hand is a powerful thing in the more violent parts of the world. Here in the tri-state-metro part of the world, it’s just dead weight. Gunplay happens occasionally, but around here it interrupts the normal course of events rather than ‘fitting in’.
If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns? Yeah, I guess—but we don’t have a great many outlaws around here either. I’d hope that the police force’s weapons stockpile would be a match for the small percentage of our community that could be considered dangerous outlaws.
Nor do I hold with the whole ‘4th Amendment’, or is it ‘2nd Amendment’? I can’t keep them straight. But I do know that if the conditions of our nation brought on a tide of rebellion, handguns are not going to make a decisive difference against fighter-jets, missiles, and smart bombs. Plus, things are quite different from the eighteenth century, nowadays—defending our farms with long rifles isn’t in keeping with today’s conditions. So the ‘right to bear arms’ has little bearing on daily life in America—and when it does, you can count the number of times an armed civilian improved the situation on the fingers of exactly no hands.
In more rural areas, where meat isn’t necessarily bought at the store, hunting-rifles make sense. Home protection can be considered, in which case having a gun inside one’s own home might be allowable. But to carry a gun around in public, unless you’re a law officer or a bank guard, is to invite gun violence wherever that gun goes. People rarely pull out a gun and shoot unarmed people—and when they do, it is always so psychotically unreal that the people in the line of fire are likely to forget they are carrying guns of their own. And if they did remember, how good a shot might they prove, in a panicked crowd?
If I walked around town with a well-sharpened axe over my shoulder, wouldn’t that seem a little asocial of me? Would people feel safer because I was ready with an axe, if any trouble should arise? No, I don’t think so. And a gun, if you’re a good shot, can kill people from two blocks away—it is even crazier than carrying an axe. No, the ‘right to bear arms’ is a nonsensical paradigm, particularly in such difficult times, when so many are out of work, frustrated, angry, and even desperate.
I believe that American men covet firearms simply for the freedom it implies—‘I’ve got a gun, so if I don’t get my way, you might regret it. Even a police officer has to take me seriously, because I’m packing.’ If we look at the stats, we see no figures on successful, armed self-defense—we see shootings, we see robberies, we see hostage situations—all perpetrated by desperate, dangerous psychos. But we do not see many Terminators who save the innocent bystanders with a hail of bullets and a few well-chosen grenade launchings. This is not a movie.
No, the stats show us that our only real danger is ourselves—the numbers of people who shoot members of their own household, mistaken for intruders, is much higher than the few in-home shootings of actual intruders. Additionally, the potential for tragedy is too great—I’d rather be shot-up as badly as Bonnie and Clyde than to live with the knowledge that my child found my gun and shot him- or herself in our own house. I’d much rather be dead.
The NRA says, “Gun control is using both hands.” But I don’t know if that is funny enough to stop the wave of fury that this Newtown K-thru-4th school’s slaughter is likely to incite. So many innocent children–I feel sick.