Guns are front and center in public discourse once again. The last time I got this riled up about the topic was shortly after the Boston bombings. I blogged then as well. I’m riled up again. All logic is against it. I’m not likely to convince anyone that my opinion is right, and yet, I feel compelled now (as I was then) to give this voice. Silence is a dangerous fucking thing. So, this is my dissenting voice. I do not think you (any of you) have “a right” to have certain weapons in your homes, or cars, or worse yet… strapped to you as you stroll around.
There. I said it.
Here’s how I was raised (in a nutshell): My father was a machinist by trade and a minister by calling. I will wait while some of you raise an eyebrow and the rest of you go, “Ah, that explains bat!” but he was a great wood worker and shaper of metals and he made guns. Not “made” as in “assembled from a kit” but he could take a hunk of metal and a block of wood and make a weapon.
I grew up with guns in the house and they were loaded. There was always at least one loaded gun in the house next to my parents’ bed. Top drawer. There was a tiny safety lever on the back of the nightstand. All of us (living in the house) knew how to flip it. Yup, there were guns. What’s more, my father reloaded bullets and I still have an odd affinity for the smell of hot lead… It’s a distinct smell that you can taste.
The first time I remember firing a gun, I was under five. I got knocked on my ass, but my parents always believed that if you were to have such things in the house, the children who lived there should know where they were, know how to handle them, and know what they did. I learned early on what a bullet would do to a tree stump and to an old fridge door. I also knew what dead animals looked like and understood that death was irreversible. And here is what I remember hearing over and over as I was growing up:
You NEVER get out the gun unless you are going to use it.
You NEVER point at something unless you intend to shoot it.
You NEVER shoot something unless you intend to kill it
You ALWAYS empty your gun into what ever needs killing until you are sure it is dead.
That translates simply to: Unless you are willing to kill something, leave the goddamn gun alone. That’s what guns are FOR. The only reason “target practice” exists is to practice hitting the real targets. The fact that it has become a sport in its own right? No different I suppose than how fishing became a sport. I may offend the hell out of some folks, but I’ll speak my mind here: I think it is silly at best (and cruel at worst) to fish… for fun. If you enjoy the fishing you are doing? Cool… but to hook things just to prove you can? I. just. can’t. Don’t. get. me. started.
I digress… I was talking about my parents and how they had strict notions about guns and their usage. It may sound extreme but my parents both understood what the guns were FOR. They weren’t for fun and they weren’t extensions of my father’s masculinity or indicators of my mother’s need for protection. They were never used to gesture or to make a point. They weren’t for show. They were never toys. My parents were so strong in the conviction that guns weren’t toys… they didn’t permit us to engage in gun “play” of any sort. We weren’t allowed to have toy guns or even to “play” guns (not even with our fingers… “bang bang” style). They were serious business, guns.
Some of the weapons my father made? They were practical. One was a stripped down model he kept with his tools… nobody but us would have known it WAS a gun. Some of the guns were beautifully crafted… almost artistic. None of them were used for fun.
I went on to marry a military man and he always had guns. His were also loaded (Logically, one does not want to unlock a gun, load it, and hope the intruder waits while one does) but he was not so careful or respectful of them. Holidays were a day for shooting, those weapons DID seem to speak to his manhood in some odd way… and he was a violent man. His guns were not created by him and they were used by him in questionable ways, and I’ve had one of those things aimed at me.
Even then, though, I tried to instill the same respect for weapons in my spawn. I had my husband take her out to show her how to shoot. She didn’t care for it. When he and I split? I kept two guns, my long 22 and my sweet little 25. Yes, I said sweet. It was. It even had a pearl handle. I never shot someone with it.
I kept those weapons until the day when I realized that I (and the child I loved) were in more danger from those guns than from whatever those guns sought to protect us from. That’s a long story and one I’d happily share with those close to me…but not here… not today. Regardless, when they came to be something other than what they were intended to be they had to go. I gifted them to someone else.
Guns – the regular run of the mill variety – or even ones with a clip holding a handful of bullets… may very well protect you and your family. Or a member of your family could accidentally (or purposefully) discharge them into you or themselves or someone else. An intruder could steal them and use them for god-knows-what. Those guns are dangerous enough, but owning them is a “right” in the same way other things are rights… but owning them is a bigger responsibility than right. If owned, they better be managed properly. If they aren’t needed and/or respected? They ought not be owned.
And here’s where I don’t really care if I offend someone or not, I don’t see any reason for any individual to own certain guns… weapons that are designed for one purpose and only one purpose: to kill other human beings in a wholesale fashion. Slaughter is a better word… they are designed to slaughter human beings.
No right, either.
You read that correctly… I do not think anyone has the right to have those kinds of weapons unless they are some military or policing entity and I don’t even like THEM having them.
I also think that you ought not have plutonium in your garage.
I also think you shouldn’t be permitted to keep live viruses in test tubes in your refrigerator.
I also think you can’t dump your raw sewage out into public streets.
There are things that civilized folks do in order to live in peace and relative safety and harmony with others. When there is a great risk to the rest of us? We all get together and make laws to curtail the “rights” of individuals in order to protect the community around.
So, when I hear people grousing about their “right” to keep these kinds of weapons? I recall a neighborhood dispute not so many years ago when one of my neighbors was headed for her gun – ready to fire outside her house at someone with whom she’d been fighting… someone who threatened to come back to her house. She was out front, loudly declaring her intention to be armed on her front porch and ready if and when the other party rolled by. I did the only thing that made sense to me… I walked across the street in the middle of the madness (gesturing to my house less than 100 feet from her front door) and told her that if she shot at that person who threatened to come back? I was on the other side of that person… so was my kid. I did not think we should die that day. It wasn’t okay. There were other options. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a cool human being and usually gentle and sweet but she’s also a fierce momma-bear and she felt that her family was being threatened. The issue was, her gun wouldn’t just take out that one perceived threat… it wouldn’t be that clean and tidy at all.
You want to shoot up the world? Don’t forget there are other people in that motherfucker. We don’t want to bury our babies or our neighbors or their babies either.
In the absence of a high powered weapon? You do less damage.
In the absence of a gun at all? You may just look for another option besides pulling a trigger and there are usually other options.
I’m not being a pollyanna. I have seen and experienced real violence. I understand fear.
But… the visceral knee-jerk reaction to buy a bigger gun, a faster gun, a gun that can plow down anything in your path? That makes no sense to me. Since this is my blog? I get to say that.
Obama isn’t coming for your guns, but if I could? I would. I would.