Our mother, waiting to pull into a parking space, was thwarted by a black-hearted parking space thief. Righteous and indignant, she got out of her own car, knocked on the window of the other and proceeded to tell the driver off. My mother didn’t swear or rant or beat on the hood of the car. She didn’t even give her the finger. Instead she simply said, “I hope you don’t have a nice day. And I hope you don’t find what you’re looking for in Marshall’s.”
We fell over ourselves laughing at my mother’s choice of fightin’ words. But the laughter was soon eclipsed by the dark truth of the matter; because I had to make my feisty seventy-year-old mother promise me she wouldn’t do anything like that again. Because you can never tell these days when you’re likely to get shot.
What an utterly ridiculous thing to have to think, let alone say.
Yet not a month later didn’t I see an article about a man who shot another man over a parking space dispute? In Boston no less, less than an hour from where my mother’s Marshall’s parking lot rage played out.
Apparently this is what it’s come down to. A country hopped up on Guns n Ammo. A country gone from a landscape of majestic mountains and golden wheat fields to something out of a Quentin Tarantino film. A country with a surprising number of people who adamantly believe the answer is more guns, who won’t be happy until everyone is walking around with a poncho and a shoulder holster like a living, breathing adaptation of The Magnificent Seven.
It’s only a matter of time before they suggest handing out handgun permits when you have a baby. Like they do with car seats.
It’s ok though. Because all this murder and mayhem? That’s the bad guys with guns. Not the good guys with guns.
The funny thing about that is, well…criminals aren’t actually criminals until they commit a crime. So right up until the moment that guy with a gun starts shooting up a movie theatre or a or a school, he was just another good guy with a gun. I haven’t seen any statistics of the number of good guys with guns who have managed to prevent a mass shooting. Please feel free to link me up.
It’s possible I’m just missing those stories on my news feed because they’re getting lost in the articles about toddlers accidentally shooting parents, kids shooting other kids on purpose, and family members killing each other. Or the ones about pissed off people shooting up their workplace. Maybe it’s the ones I have to scroll through about men killing women who left them, men killing women they don’t know just because they’re women. Or the ones about people getting shot for texting too loudly, for not being a good enough waitress, for shining their lights it the parking lot too brightly, for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The problem is there is no right place anymore. There is nowhere safe. Not Maine, where two men convicted of domestic abuse are taking their fight to own a gun despite a federal ban all the way to The Supreme Court. (For the record, a woman is 500% more likely to be killed in a domestic dispute in a home that has a firearm). Or in Georgia, where you can be legally blind and still purchase, own, and carry a gun. It probably won’t be safe in Iowa either, where it’s likely a bill making it legal for a child under the age of 14 to possess a handgun will soon be on the books.
Some perspective: If you have a pool or a trampoline on your property, you’re required to have fences, safety measures and liability insurance. In fact, some insurers won’t even let you take out a policy at all if you have a trampoline. Yet you can have a house full of guns with no liability requirement, whatsoever. You can’t have a freaking trampoline, but you can have a gun. I’ll take my chances of my kid coming home with a broken arm rather than a fatal bullet to the chest on a playdate gone wrong, thanks.
If you are required to have fences and nets, you should be required to have a gun safe to lock your guns in. If you’re blind, you shouldn’t be able to buy or own a gun. If you’re a doctor, you should be able to ask your patients about whether or not they have guns in the house to discuss safety issues with them. Yet if you’re a physician in Florida, guess what? You can’t. It’s against the law.
It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn I have never fired a gun. I’ve never had any interest. It may surprise you, however, to learn I grew up with a gun in the house (a hunting rifle). It may also surprise you to know that I don’t necessarily believe in banning all guns.
What I do believe is that no ordinary citizen needs an automatic weapon or hollow point bullets or body armor. I believe every ordinary citizen with a gun needs a thorough background check, a waiting period, classes on gun safety and proof of meeting stricter guidelines and requirements. I believe gun owners should be required to have liability insurance. And I also believe gun owners need to be held accountable.
What I don’t believe is that owning a weapon is an absolute right which should be placed above all else.
A kid doesn’t need a handgun. No child needs a handgun. For the love of God, no child needs to possess a handgun. If you want them to hit targets, sign them up for archery lessons. The fourteen year old who gets shot by a friend because of a gun bought and not secured? How many times am I going to read a variation of that story? A man who is convicted of battery against a woman? Sorry. Nope. Her right to life trumps the right to own a gun. If you’re really that into guns, perhaps you should think about it before you beat the shit out of your girlfriend or wife.
This idea of the absolute right of the individual coming above all else is rapidly becoming the biggest danger faced in the US today. But it’s ok, right. Good guys with guns and all that. They’ll save us. Ponchos and all.
Just remember, all those shooters? All those people responsible for killing others? They were all good guys with guns. Before they weren’t.