Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blogs don't kill people

I hate guns.

It's a known fact to anyone who knows me.  I hate guns.  I don't care what application they're used for.  I hate them.  They scare me, and I think America's obsession with bearing arms is out of control.  Now, before you get all "I KNOW MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT BLAH BLAH BLAH" on me, just hear me out.  I'm not encroaching on anyone's rights.  But in the wake of yet ANOTHER mass shooting, another contribution to our standing as one of the most violent nations in the industrialized world, is it possible that the second amendment needs a little...reexamination?  Let's just try and remember that the second amendment was written in a different era and with a different context.  I'm pretty sure that it wasn't written so that we could all protect ourselves from other people also exercising their right to bear their arms in public places.  Right?

When I managed a gas station two blocks from the notorious Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago back in the mid-90's, I had a gun in my desk - a loaded 9mm.  I never opened that drawer if I could help it, and every time I had to, my stomach flipped.  Just the sight of it made me so nervous I'd want to throw up.  I told my boss the first time he showed it to me that I wasn't going to touch it.  He said, "well, I keep it in here so if you ever have any trouble when you're in here counting money, just use it."

"Just use it."  Like I'd even know how to hold the goddamned thing, let alone SHOOT it at someone pointing their gun at my head.  My office was just slightly bigger than a supply closet; anyone doing said gun-pointing would be doing so at extremely close range - likely pressing the barrel between my eyes.  I told my boss, "look.  If I'm in here counting money and someone busts in here with a weapon demanding I give it to them, they'll get the money.  Fire me now if you have a problem with that, because I (a) do not know how, nor am licensed to, shoot a weapon, (b) don't trust myself to be quicker than a criminal high on crack and adrenaline within reach of several thousand dollars, and (c) value my life more than a Shell station.  Sorry."  He laughed and said he understood, but he also said I was being silly.  "Anyone can learn how to shoot a gun," he scoffed.

Anyone.  Including James Holmes, a quiet, brilliant neuroscience fellowship student.

By now everyone is familiar with this name and the tragedy associated with it.  And already the gun nuts are out in full force.  "Guns don't kill people!  People kill people!"  Whatever.  The guy couldn't have taken out 12 people and injured 60 others with a steak knife.  And the most ridiculous comments I've seen are coming from these people who insist that "if only someone had been there with a gun, they could have stopped this guy."


This guy walks into a crowded movie theater, tosses a couple canisters of tear gas, and then just as the audience is trying to process what's going on, he opens fire with an automatic assault rifle, spraying bullets into the auditorium.  Chaos ensues.  People are bleeding.  People are dead.  People are screaming, running, throwing themselves on the ground, pushing each other out of the way.  It's dark.  The flash from the gunfire is blinding, making a clear shot likely impossible.  I don't care if you're an expert marksman - this is not target practice.   And unless the concealed-carry laws include automatic weapons, no civilian with a Smith & Wesson snub-nose revolver is a match for a heavily-armed, well-armored massacrer on a mission.  You might as well be carrying a cap gun.

Everyone likes to think they're Chuck Norris, but the truth is that NO ONE knows what they would have done in this situation.  Think of every bad thing that's ever happened to you.  Was it what you imagined?  Did you react as you thought you would?  Probably not.  Everyone likes to think they're a hero, or that there's a hero out there who'll save us from the bad guys, but superheroes are only in the comics and the movies.  Get real, stop speculating, and for God's sake - stop fantasizing that another gun would have solved the problem.  

The truth: guns kill people.  Guns are weapons designed for that very purpose.  And as long as we continue to think that more violence will cure violence, we're deluding ourselves into a false sense of security.  The United States has one of the highest rate of gun deaths in the world.  I could spout statistics at you, but I'll let you do your own research.  It's not hard to find.  And it's not easy to ignore.  

The gun debate in this country will never end.  But really - how many people have to die before we come to SOME kind of conclusion?