Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Carry On

Here's my latest newspaper column:
In 2015, roughly one person per week was shot by a toddler with a gun, and over a hundred children died in accidental shootings. About thirteen thousand people of all ages died with guns involved, by accident, homicide, or murder/suicide. From 2005 to 2015, seventy-one Americans died from terrorist attacks on US soil, while about 302,000 died from other forms of gun violence. 
Not long ago, a worshiper shot himself in the foot in church. Around here a guy worried about attacks in movie theaters legally carried a pistol to a movie, dropped it, and shot another moviegoer. A Georgia mom killed her 8-year-old daughter when she dropped her gun. Same thing, same age, in Dallas. Dropped guns have gone off in Wal-Mart, Cracker Barrel, Chipotle, an Alabama supermarket, a “Muslim-free” gun shop in Oklahoma. Two patrons killed a gun-shop owner and his son over a $25 handling fee for a failed repair. A lady fired wildly at escaping shoplifters in a crowded Home Depot parking lot. Another good guy busted up a carjacking by shooting the car owner, aiming for the perpetrators. An owner shot his dog accidently, saying he was aiming for his girlfriend. 
A Florida man killed himself while demonstrating the proper way to clean a gun. A Florida woman, who’d posted on Facebook “My right to protect my son with my gun trumps your fear of my gun” was shot in the back by that (four-year-old) son after leaving her pistol loose in her truck. Another Florida man who bought a gun to protect his family shot his four-year-old daughter while cleaning it. A gun in a mom’s purse in a hospital went off and shot her two-year-old daughter in the face. 
People called police about that Colorado random mass-murderer as he was open-carrying down a street, before he open-fired. Police did nothing because he’d broken no laws. And there’s the problem. With everyone packing, how do you know who’s doing so with mayhem in mind? Doesn’t it, in fact, make it easier for a bad guy to walk into a public place and start firing? But, you say, he’d be shot by a patriotically packing patron. Before killing how many? How many such people would be deterred, since many seem intent on dying in their act of violence? And, given the incidents of stupidity above, how likely is the good guy or gal to hit the target instead of someone else? 
Yes, there have been a handful of of good guys with guns stopping bad guys, including a recent (and suspicious) nearby one; far fewer, though, than the other type. And let’s not forget road rage. No, the idea of omnipresent guns in the hands of average citizens doesn’t make me feel safe at all. Meanwhile, training requirements and permits are being legislated away in several states.
In a rare nod to reality, Republicans won’t have guns at their upcoming convention; logically in line with legislators who’re fine with guns in schools, churches, bars, and everywhere else YOU hang out; just not where they do. Could it be because they know, deep in that place in their chests where other people have hearts, that arming all citizens makes us less safe? Does the money they take from the gun lobby speak to them in their dreams, whisper in the voices of the dead that they’ve sold us out? Not likely. 
This exceptionally American mess is predicated on the insanely paranoid idea that citizens need arms to protect themselves from our government; that unless they stockpile AR-15s and enough ammo to fill a silo, Obama’s minions will storm their homes and turn them into gay Muslim Kenyans. That armed with long guns they’ll beat back drones, tanks, and Apache helicopters. That any attempt, no matter how exiguous, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or, maybe, to require minimal competence, is tantamount to arguing for repeal of the Second Amendment. And so it goes: last weekend bled with mass and individual murders 
I don’t deny that we’re too far gone ever to come back to rationality. All I’m saying is that when an armed patriot heads into a place I’m in, I’m heading out.    
[Image source]


  1. Brilliant... many thanks! I wrote an essay on this subject correlating owning guns and driving cars that you may find entertaining @ Your blog is a regular stop for me... keep up the good work, Doctor!!!!

  2. Thanks! And an excellent post on your blog. Sorta "cars as open carry." A friend and colleague and his entire family *(wife and two small children) were wiped out by a drunk driver who crossed the median. I've likened drunk drivers (or texters or...) to a sniper on a freeway overpass randomly picking off drivers.

    And just this morning there was another incident of a toddler killing his mom from the back seat of their car. Like I said, the whole notion of a heavily armed citizenry is insane. But, as I also said, it's hard to imagine a time when it'll return to a semblance of sanity.

  3. Sid:

    As for leaving, I'll be right behind you. After 40 years of hunting with 15 of those years devoted to teaching firearm safety, I can tell you that, as regards stupidity and foolishness, you're only scratching the surface. I'm just glad to - in all of those years - never have been part of or witnessed someone being injured or killed. Close calls, though, I've seen my share.

    Were I ruler of the world (not likely with my measly five rifles, two shotguns, one pistol and a "paltry" amount of ammunition), with every gun purchase, there would be a hard and fast requirement for a five day safety course. Such a course would include firearm maintenance, storage, safe live firing (performed with paint ball guns and all safety gear) in different situations (including unexpected and startling ones)and the demonstrated ability to understand that a muzzle aimed (knowingly or not) at another person means that you are willing to kill that person. This would be a bare minimum because we're talking about human beings here and they are, at best, fallible - especially around firearms.

    And that would be just the start - especially as regards concealed carry.

    Far too many concealed carry individuals (of which I will never be one) think that they'll be able to perform well in situations wherein the world around them has well and truly gone to hell in a hand basket. Unless they've trained gruelingly and repeatedly to face such a situation, they won't. It's hard enough for the normal individual to hit a stationary target at a range, while focused, wearing eye and ear protection, with no one jostling or disturbing them, and with the time to aim. Now, put that individual in a bad situation, with everyone screaming, running, bumping, the target moving and shooting, adrenaline and fear spiking, bladder and bowels wanting to do their thing...and Lord knows who gets shot.

    I take a lot of heat from my fellow Life Members of the NRA for these views, but - in a rational world - they would be thought of as fairly sensible.

    You're right, though. Ain't gonna happen. And, if you thought Obama sold a lot of firearms and ammo, wait until Hillary gets into office.

    I might even be tempted to buy that limited edition, engraved rifle (see: always in safe, never used) rifle, I've always wanted.

  4. A voice of reason, as usual, Larry. If gun owners were all like you, what the hell would I have to write about?

    As you may have read, on the same day this was published another toddler killed his mom, this time from the back seat while she was driving.

  5. I don't own a gun and I believe that there should be much more gun control, including mandatory training. I can understand people's desire to own a gun, though, not because they might need one to protect themselves from the government, but because they might need one to protect themselves from other citizens in case of a natural or man-made disaster when the looting begins. Maybe I've watched too much of "The Walking Dead."


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