Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not Owning a Gun Ever

I've waited and watched as several pundits have spoken out about the gun control issue, mostly horrified that it's taken the slaughter of so many for us to really start talking about it at all.

But I'm even more horrified by the NRA's response to it. Horror is the only word I can muster. It's heart-breaking that anyone would choose a gun over a child's life. The main speaker even said, "If you love your kids more than money" and went on to name all the things we must love more than our kids if we don't make guns as common as blackboards on school grounds. Only these people love their guns more than their kids. They love guns more than mercy, more than rational thought, more than God.

These are the same people who are stockpiling guns, raiding gun stores to get their hands on huge magazines and the worst kinds of weapons, for fear that these lethal tools may soon become illegal. They fear what will happen if only bad guys have guns, imagining a world where they hide in their own homes, afraid to go out for fear of being shot by such "bad guys."

Certainly, there are places in the world where this is common. The middle east is such a reality, where mere existence is dangerous, where people fear to walk in the streets yet also know they can die right in their own homes.

But these guys also have it wrong. It's not the "bad guys" that we have to fear. It's not some creepy Scrooge. Scrooge is US. He is all of us. He's our worstness, our ugly tendencies, our unreasonable fear and anger. I have no trust that I would do good with a gun in my house. What if my marriage went sour? What if I developed a mental illness, unnoticed and undiagnosed? What if I felt the whole world was falling apart, and the gun seemed a solution to this "problem?"

I'm not afraid of evil people. They are everywhere, in all of us. We all have the capacity to do evil. And we too often make the choice to act upon our evil inclinations. A gun isn't evil, but it makes our ability to act horribly all the easier. When we are under stress, when we hate and fear, we are capable of doing almost anything. The only person I can think of whom I would truly trust to never use a gun badly is Mother Theresa, and she's dead. I wouldn't even trust myself to own one.

That is why the idea of armed people in my children's school doesn't comfort me. They aren't "bad guys," but they are capable of doing evil all the same. What if one of them becomes romantically involved with a teacher? What if that relationship goes wrong? I trust policemen and soldiers, in general, to carry guns, but they are not perfect. We know of too many times when soldiers at war make horrible decisions and do horrible things. We know of cops who go bad, who use their guns on their families. Having a certain job does not make them infallible. And this latest school shooting proves that training someone to shoot a gun does not keep them from using that knowledge to do the very thing they shouldn't. There is no way to guarantee that someone given a skill will always use it for good.

Even if they intend to do only good, people make mistakes. Cops shoot someone dead, thinking he is armed, only to find they were wrong. Neighborhood watchers, intent on protecting the neighborhood, shoot an innocent child dead. Guns go off by mistake, even when owners believe they aren't loaded. Children find family guns and turn them on their friends. The intent to kill isn't in any of these acts, yet people die all the same.

That is why I will never own a gun. It is why I don't like the idea of my next door neighbor having one, either, especially one that can hold 30 rounds. My home is already dangerous enough. A child could drown in my pool or fall down the stairs, or cut themselves horribly on a kitchen knife. Or one of us could do something horrible with household tools. But a gun would make that sort of horror all the more possible, all the more destructive.

The answer to the school shooting isn't more guns. More guns will only make such a reality more likely. More guns will only make it easier for us to blow each other away. My kids' school is gun-free, and if I find out they plan to change that, I will do all I can to prevent it. I don't want my child's teacher armed.

And I sure as hell will never buy a gun and go to a licensed shooting gallery to shoot, for doing so in this country requires I join the NRA.

And THAT will never, ever happen.


  1. It is the obvious good verses evil argument that the NRA, and our government in fact, use to arm and present force against that which we don't understand.
    It is unfortunate, and not likely to change in several of my lifetimes.

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  3. I am not fond of guns (and, in fact, they get little play even in my novels). A handgun or an assault rifle, like a nuclear weapon, serves no purpose but to threaten or destroy. That is a fact.

    I can do other useful things with a knife or sword, or a hunting rifle, but once I pack in dozens of rounds, make it automatic/semi-automatic or make it small enough to hide in my clothes, serves no purpose but to intimidate or kill human beings.

    I don't believe guns should arbitrarily be banned. The truth is, there are lots of ways people can be destructive without guns as the OKC bombing demonstrated. However, ready access to guns make it too easy to make a mistake you can't take back or to let loose when your mind takes you too far.

    I AM for waiting periods. I AM for background checks and making those more comprehensive. I AM for mandatory training. I AM for making some guns, those that can do tremendous amounts of damage, incredibly difficult if not impossible to purchase (truly automatic weapons are actually not supposed to be in the hands of regular citizen even now, though several semi-automatic weapons can be modified to a similar effect). I don't know regular citizens can carry concealed weapons legally either.

    And I AM for tougher laws on ownership, ones that make improper use (shooting them to celebrate New Year's, taking potshots at strays, accidentally shooting family members, etc) or storage (failure to use trigger locks, leaving them were they are readily stolen or used by minors, etc)criminal acts. If people want the privilege and trust to carry destructive power to hurt other people, they have to take responsibility for those self-same weapons.

    I also have no interest in owning a gun. Never felt tempted. But I don't disagree that guns are only part of the problem. On the other hand, they are part of the problem since they take what could be a momentary impulse and make it permanent or enable one person to do far more damage than he could do otherwise. And I also agree that NRA's response, as usual, is disgusting.

  4. Fearmongering, goatman, works far better than I would prefer. We respond to fear more readily than happiness, generosity, or any good feeling.

    And I'm not expecting to ban all guns, Stephanie. That will never happen in this country. But it scares me that the very people who are scrambling right now to buy all these semiautomatic guns and huge magazines are the same people who have the capacity to fear and hate more than the regular guy--and now they are far more armed than any person should be. I think the main part of the problem is US--human beings--and our propensity for stupidity, selfishness, and egomania.

  5. That is a sad but valid point. It is ironic that the people most likely to misuse guns are the ones frothing at the mouth to own them.

    No, not ironic. Terrifying.