America is a Gun

No one needs an assault rifle. Or a semi-automatic rifle. Or whatever the semantic difference is that people think is important and is really not because that’s not the point.

No one needs an AR-15 to defend themselves.

No one needs to open carry a semi-automatic weapon.

No one needs one to protect themselves from whatever Boogeyman the government is shilling that day.

No one needs one to protect their land from gophers.

No one needs one to protect themselves against government tyranny because if the government’s got you surrounded at that point, sweetie, you are up the proverbial creek and all your AR-15 is going to be good for is paddling.

No one needs one for shooting deer. Or rabbits. Or grouse. Or clay pigeons.

No one needs to keep one in their back seat in case there’s an alien invasion on I-95.

No one needs an AR-15.

People want them. That’s the difference.

People want them because they’re “fun”, because it’s enjoyable to use them for target practice, or as I saw one person write, blowing charcoal briquettes to bits on a long, dusty road.

People want them because the NRA tells them that they might not be able to get one soon.

People want them because goddamn it, no one can tell them what they can or cannot have. (As the argument goes, if we start calling guns ‘uterus’, then we’ll be able to successfully regulate the shit out of them).

People want them because they fear over-reaching government.

People want them because they believe that because they are responsible, others will be too.

People want them because they believe in the absolute of a sentence written 250 years ago.

Here is my question: At what point in the evolution of society do individuals look at on the daily carnage (18 school shootings in the first 45 days of 2018. 28 mass shootings in the first 45 days of 2018) and say: I am going to rethink my enjoyment of target shooting with (fill in the correct semantic) weapon because it’s important for me to contribute to the well-being of society as a whole?

At what point does the individual say: Hey, I can protect myself and my family, I can hunt and target shoot, defend myself with the myriad of other weapons out there, and as much as I may WANT a semi-automatic, I can see that they are responsible for a lot of that daily carnage. In fact, between the years of 1994 and 2004 when there was a ban on assault weapons, I managed to do just that. And so, for the greater good, I’m going to push for a ban on those weapons of carnage. Even though it means I personally might lose out on my enjoyment, or my want.

At what point does the individual say: I can see that the other factors always listed in these instances–mental health, criminal activity, intent to do harm, that those things do not exist in a vacuum. Other countries experience violent crime, but nowhere close to the gun violence ripping through the United States, on a weekly, daily, hourly basis.

At what point does the individual say: Enough, my tenuous and questionable right to own a weapon meant for quick and efficient killing of other human beings (and let’s not fool ourselves, it wasn’t created to shoot clay pigeons or those human shaped targets with concentric circles they like to show on CSI–it was created to efficiently kill human beings) is stripping away the fundamental right to life of other human beings. Other human beings with whom I must share the planet, the country, the city, the school with.

At what point does the individual say: Why should my questionable right (and indeed, it depends on which way the Supreme Court wind is blowing that decision) to own, collect, or use an assault weapon come above the rights of 365 million other Americans–the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I guess I’m asking, in my typically long-winded way, is at what point do we rise, as a whole and agree that there must be, in any evolved society, a hierarchy of rights. And where are we, as a whole, as a nation, if we cannot agree that the rights of children to grow into adults, for spouses to grow into retirement, for colleagues and others to live to their full potential–the right of all of us as citizens to walk, as protected as we can possibly be, through a life unmarked by violence– comes above someone else’s ‘because I can’?

I know there are going to be folks that read this and immediately defend 2nd Amendment rights. I’m not advocating for the confiscation of all guns. I am absolutely advocating for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. I am arguing and advocating for clear and sensible gun regulations, safety and responsibility. We can and should wrap into this conversation issues surrounding access to health care, including mental health. But please, if you are going to advocate for mental health changes, give me a detailed plan. What, when, how, who’s going to pay for it? Because while a ban on assault rifles, like the one in the decade between 1994 and 2004 will help, a lot, it won’t solve the problem of why so many American boys and men (statistically speaking, almost ALL) feel entitled to take out their rage on others. Let’s figure out why. But in the meantime, let’s not give them an easier way to do it.

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15 thoughts on “America is a Gun

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  1. I lived with a gun dealer maybe 30 years ago who was a member of the NRA. In those days they KNEW ‘semi’/assault rifles have NO civilian use, even for hunters or sportsmen, so they were against them. I thought that was sane.

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  2. No argument from this quarter. It’s a tragedy with so many components, and we have so few sensible people (and so few people who are not owned by the NRA) in power, I think real change might require some kind of actual revolution. Problem is, though the people on the sane side of that revolution would be at the mercy of those holding semi-automatics on the opposite side…

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  3. Yes. As a nation, as a people, it is past time to set aside deadly and childish things, those toys for boys that whisper to a vulnerable mind, “You have me, so use me. Do what I am made to do. Kill!” Can we finally grow up?

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  4. I love that poem you found. I think it’s damned accurate.

    You know, I don’t think other nations are “laughing at us” anymore. Now I imagine the world community as a dinner party and the U.S. is playing the role of the loud, plastered jock who doesn’t have the sense to be embarrassed that he keeps falling over and pissing himself while others get out of the way or shake their heads in disgust.

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    1. No, no one is laughing when it comes to gun deaths. Most Europeans I know simply cannot understand it. To them, the situation is simple. Too many guns. They can’t understand the deep and abiding love that some Americans seem to have for firearms (hence the poem). But I think it makes the rest of the world sad for us, that we can’t figure this out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Please don’t say we need gun control. Guns don’t kill it’s the people with guns that kill. The killings in Parkland, Florida may have happened with a gun but that gun didn’t walk in there on its own someone took that gun and used it in terrible violence. There’s also to many mental health cases.

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    1. Crystal,

      I’d be interested to hear how you would like to tackle mental health issues in the US. Specifically, including how it would be funded.
      We talk a lot about mental health, and there are indeed many issues, but it is not the sole cause, and it’s not something that can simply be ‘fixed’. Many things that would help–a living wage, free child care, health care, pre-natal care, family leave, quality public education, domestic violence regulations, and on and on…it all costs money that no one seems to want to pay for. So how do we go about tackling it? Where does the ball get shunted to?

      Gun sense regulations, regulations which in no way infringe upon an American’s constitutional right to bear arms, make sense, the same way regulations against any product which can be harmful or dangerous make sense.

      When a product is tainted, we recall the product. When consumers misuse a product in a way which can be dangerous, we pass regulations (see: OTC cough syrup for children). We don’t blame the person in those cases, we regulate the product. Why are guns different? We don’t say “bombs don’t kill people, people do”, so why do we use that phrase with guns?

      I do not believe we should ban all guns. I believe in common sense gun regulations and control. Because unfortunately, as we have seen, people cannot be relied on to act responsibly. Most can. Some can’t. But the ones who can’t endanger ALL of us, not just themselves. In my opinion, we have a moral responsibly as a society to protect one another, even if at times it means inconveniencing others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Each mental is different. I think each person who is thought to be mentally ill should be evaluated by more than 1 person. They should be court appointed and should be checked to see if they’ve had any previous contact or relations with the person who is possibly mentally ill. I also believe in common sense gun regulations. Plea deals shouldn’t even be a possibility in cases like these. Our teachers should be trained with guns and be able to carry a gun while in school as security guards should be able to too. Maybe if school security guards and teachers had a gun they could better protect our school children.

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  6. When it comes to American justification for guns (the second amendment “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.”), I keep wondering when the part about “well-regulated militia” gets invoked.

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    1. It’s so complicated, because it’s a 250 year old document, which, for all its brilliance, is flawed. It is also, I believe in my heart, meant to be a dynamic document, not static, changing as the country changes. As people point out, when it was written, black Americans were only considered 3/5 of a human, and women could not vote. We grow, we change, we adapt. We do what is good for the whole. At least that’s my hope.

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D.E. Haggerty

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