Let’s Talk About Guns … Again

In December 2012 — 2 days before Sandy Hook — I wrote the following essay.  Since then, 74 school shootings have taken place.

This morning I’m taking your pulse:  Do you feel the same, or has your opinion changed, in the last 18 months?

_________________

A friend came over this evening. We talked about guns. We talked about the NFL and guns. We talked about the father who accidentally shot his 7 yr old son while getting in his truck. We talked about Bob Costas talking about guns and all the flak he’s taking for talking. No talking!

When I was little, a kid in my class killed his baby brother. Shot that baby in the chest. They were just playing. The kid tried to come back to school, but he peed his pants on the bus and the next thing we knew we never saw that kid again.

Politicians can’t talk about guns. Political suicide. Interesting term.

When we were in Prague this fall, this sculpture was, well, fucking unnerving.

pb-111009-guns-cannon.photoblog730

Last night, the Oregon mall shooting. A young man who feared for his life in that mall said, “It was like being in a video game.” When did we start saying things like “it was like a video game,” or “it was like a movie”?

When I was little we had BB guns. (I had to think, just now, about how to spell BB guns: BB, BeBe, BeeBee) My brother shot his gun off in the kitchen and the BB’s went through the washing machine. Those BB’s grazed Dad’s pants leg. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Hahahahaha!

My brother was 4 years old when he did that.

Hahahahahaha!

When my son was a teenager, he wanted a paintball gun. I said No Way, but I soon gave in to peer pressure —- come on, all the kids have them!!! —- and I said there were 3 rules. If the dogs get hit, the gun’s gone. If the house gets hit, the gun’s gone. I never want to see that gun, so keep it in a bag. What a big shot rule-maker I was.

My son came home with the worst bruises. I worried myself sick and said nothing. You like me, you really really like me!

My brother was in the Marines and now he’s in the National Guard. His profile picture on Facebook shows him in his gear and helmet, holding an AK47, surrounded on the ground by a group of AK47s. The title of the photo is: ME & MY BITCHES

Hahahahaha!

When my dad was about 30, he found out his dad wasn’t his real dad. He’d grown up thinking his stepfather —- who married his mother when he was a baby — was his dad. But really? His real dad shot himself while cleaning his gun. Or so they say.

When I was little, I refused to learn to load my BB gun. Wouldn’t even touch the thing. Everybody made fun of me, including my mother and my aunts and my uncles. Awwww, Big Sissy!!! At the time I was riding the bus with that kid who killed his brother, shot that baby in the chest while they were just having fun, the kid who peed his pants. I kept this to myself.

________________________

Tell me a story about guns.

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32 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Guns … Again

  1. Teri Post author

    I’ll start.

    I am no longer shocked when I hear there’s been a shooting. Yesterday, when I heard about the Oregon shooting, I literally thought this: “Oh no. But only 2 people killed? I’ll read about it later. I need to check my sprinklers and see why my ivy isn’t getting water.”

    There’s the argument that mental health is the issue, not gun culture. I agree that we have substandard mental healthcare. But I also believe other countries have poor mental healthcare, so why are we the lucky country with the weekly shootings?

    A few weeks ago my husband was gone and I woke up from a nightmare where there was a giant man in my house. There’s a baseball bat by my bed. Fuck that bat, I thought. I’m good as dead. I wished I had a gun.

    There’s the argument that an insane person without a gun will still go after you with a knife or a bat or some other large instrument. True enough. But I can run from the guy with the bat; I can close the door and lock it while I call 911. And an unstable person with a bat cannot mow down an entire classroom of 6 year olds in less than 10 seconds.

    On the news this morning, the lead story was not yesterday’s school shooting. The lead story was Eric Cantor losing the election. Ho hum. Next.

    Your turn.

  2. Pamela

    I don’t even know what to say anymore.

    Maybe this: A friend/acquaintance started a long Facebook thread on this issue. She lives in Philly and warned her Texan relatives that she would be bringing the subject up again in person during her next visit. At last check, there were over 50 comments on the thread from people with varying opinions, but it appeared to be a civil discussion. I was impressed by her.

    1. Teri Post author

      I am hopeful for the day when we never have to talk about the guns. But will I live to see it?

      I’m starting to feel like Gun Control is like Abortion/ProChoice —- a topic of distraction that we will never agree on and, therefore, just keep arguing about for all eternity while we pay politicians to watch us argue.

      How’s that for optimism.

      1. Pamela

        In my former life, I was an abortion counselor and a medical assistant. I talked with women about their decisions and held their hands during their procedures. I listened and offered options for women who weren’t sure and who wanted to make a different choice. Later I was the assistant director of that clinic for several years. Protesters screamed at me on an almost daily basis when I entered the building in the morning. I was never more afraid of guns than I was back then. I knew it wasn’t a farfetched notion that I could get shot, that my friends could die, that my beloved doctors’ vests might not protect them.

        We were in Texas. The screamers were so angry. If one of them had a gun, it could have been very, very bad.

  3. Averil Dean

    Guns are for cowards. There, I said it. People who carry weapons are fearful, cowardly people who see danger around every corner. Any moron can strike a macho pose with his rifle and handgun (“my bitches,” Jesus), but that’s not bravery, it’s truculence. Real courage comes from committing oneself to peace, and walking out the door knowing that yes, there may be people who would hurt you, but you would rather die standing up than spend your life with crouching in fear, one trembling finger curled around a trigger.

    1. donnaeve

      I’m going to disagree about that coward statement. Not true. One picture isn’t how everyone is, or thinks. All that bravado in a picture is just like a post on FB. Look at me! That’s all.

      I went out running one day, carefree and loving the moment I was in. I wasn’t crouching in fear as I ran, a woman boldly running on her own.

      Until I was mugged. Thrown to the ground. Threatened. Unsure of what was going to happen. How I wished I’d had a gun. And that’s the only reason I’d want one. I wouldn’t run with it. (too afraid of the damn things.) But if the need strikes? I’d feel relieved to have it by my side, like on that morning. I’ve never run with that same abandonment since. Thank you very much, mugger. (and, just to really amp it up – my mugger was a black man – in a hoodie. No joke)

      No vanilla flavors today.

      1. Averil Dean

        I understand, and have been the victim of violent crime as well. I still assert that it takes more courage to walk through life without a gun that with one.

        Also, though I hate that you were mugged because I know how awful and terrifying that must have been, you did walk both walk away. It’s the lesser evil than the one that could have occurred had a gun entered into that scenario.

      2. donnaeve

        I’ve thought about that too. (both walking away) I still don’t carry a gun, and if anyone had an “argument” to justify it, I would – and so would you. So there’s that.

        But, to this, “I still assert that it takes more courage to walk through life without a gun that with one.” Maybe. But, I’d bet those who didn’t get chance to walk away would disagree. Except they aren’t here to voice that opinion. Sometimes we just need to be able to protect ourselves…, and “level the playing field.” If they (bad guy) are the only ones with a gun, what chance would you or I stand?

      3. Teri Post author

        This is one of those scenarios that sounds better to me in theory than in real life. I imagine that in real life, I’m not spending a lot of time practicing shooting. So when that big angry man is attacking me, and the adrenaline is shooting through my body, how will I have the presence of mind —- and steadiness of body — to find the gun in my bag, take off the safety, aim while I’m wrestling, and shoot him. Before he takes it away and shoots me.

      4. donnaeve

        Weeeellll….., it’s all theoretical, really. No? There’s a million scenarios and probably just as many ways to argue the point. But either way, this is always good debate…

  4. donnaeve

    We didn’t have guns in our house when I was growing up. I’ve never seen my father handle a gun – ever. He’s 80. My mother treated the idea of having one like having a snake inside the house My brother wasn’t allowed to have a BB gun either. (You’ll shoot your eye out!)

    One day, we went to my grandmother’s house, just down the road. I was about six years old. My grandmother’s house was one story in the front, and two stories in the back because of the attached garage. We had to climb about 20 steps to get into the back door. One of my uncles, my father’s youngest brother, who was sixteen at the time, was known for being “wild.” There was a little bit of fear in me when he was around, and I couldn’t explain why. He seemed unpredictable, different, but I was only six, what did I know? On that visit lifted me up, put me on his shoulders, as he would do sometimes to gallop around the yard. This time, he walked out the back door (20 steps up) to stand on the edge of the roof of the garage. While on the edge, he lifted one leg like he was going to step off – me screaming bloody murder on his shoulders. My mother freaked out. My grandmother said, “Oh for Pete’s sake, Bobby. Put her down.” Bobby laughed and laughed. I cried. He tried to get me up on his shoulders again. I swatted his hands. He said, “What a crybaby!”

    He went and got his gun. Some sort of shot gun. My brother and I were in the backyard by now, swinging on the tire swing. Bobby came out and sat near us, on an old oil drum. He began pointing the gun at the trees. He shot a few times. We stopped swinging, wondering why he was shooting into the trees. Then, a small bird fell, and flopped around on the ground, it’s wing broken. My brother and I were horrified. We said, “Stop! Don’t shoot birds! You’re hurting them!” Uncle Bobby looked at us and said, “Ya’ll are a bunch a pussies.” He walked over to the bird, picked it up, held it at arm’s length and shot it’s head off. Speechless, we got off the tire swing and went and stood by our car. I was crying again. My brother was too. Uncle Bobby smirked and went back to shooting into the trees. My mother came flying out of the house, outraged. A big argument ensued. We left. I hated him after that and wouldn’t have anything to do with him.

    That was my first experience with a gun.

    I see both sides of the argument over gun laws. I am conflicted. I believe in 2nd amendment rights, but I don’t believe in being allowed to have assault rifles, or any heavy sort of weaponry. I believe guns should be used for sporting and/or self defense in one’s home. I don’t believe in allowing owners to have clips that carry a lot of rounds. To me, even the “proposed” limit of ten is too much. It’s like a quote I heard the other day – and for the life of me I can’t recall who said it, but it went something like, “if you need more than ten bullets to fight off a burglar in your house, you need to go back to the firing range and practice.” I get that.

    Connecticut has some of the strictest laws and look what happened. Recently, a couple of shootings also involved knives. So, if we can’t carry guns, will that stop people from killing each other? I don’t think so. They will turn to sort of explosives made at home, (Boston) knives, or whatever a deranged person can concoct to do what they feel compelled to do. Before there were ever any guns on this earth, people killed each other – in barbaric ways. Swords, rocks, drownings, torture, knives, clubs, hammers, strangulation, guillotine, you name it. Some of that barbarism still exists in the minds of a few. (BTK serial killer) Guns only make it less confrontational. Less up in your face. Less personal. And yes, a mass event. Reduce the ammo. Keep the guns.

    On Averil’s blog, where this was also discussed a while back, I mentioned if you removed every human from the earth, and left all the guns behind, what would happen? Nothing. I also get that some people, the ones who do these things, aren’t “right.” They have emotional, psychological disturbances/issues. I believe if they can’t get their hands on a gun, they won’t be able to plan a mass shooting, but they will still figure out how to do harm. Somehow.

    And that’s my conflicted view.

  5. joplingirl

    When my oldest son was ten he made a wooden gun. At the very end of the barrel he glued a cross larger than the gun itself. It will cast a shadow he said. It’s a godly gun.

    He knew what I thought about guns back then. How I threw away his beautiful toy rife after he pointed it in my face. He was only three and didn’t really understand the power of deadly force.

    Now he does. He was one of the ones who put on a rescue worker’s hat and pulled bodies out of the Murrah Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City after a truckload of bomb blew the the place apart killing 168 people and injuring 680 more.

    Living online we can forget the world is dangerous. That people can be dangerous. I can’t throw all the guns over the fence into the pasture anymore. I understand why we need them. And I hate that I know it.

    1. Teri Post author

      I don’t want to throw all the guns over the fence. If you’re not in the military, I just don’t understand why anyone needs a great big automatic weapon.

  6. amyg

    Guns. Guns. Guns.

    “Don’t take our freedoms.” & “Don’t you know the first thing Hitler did was take all the firearms?”

    But what about the kids? Let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about all the ridiculous click-bait links we post on this kid and that kid doing something “…you won’t believe what happened next.”

    Aren’t they precious? So gifted. They’re our future, right? Look how blessed we are to have them.

    Too bad we don’t feel so blessed we’re willing to protect them at any cost. The metaphor that our schools have become the very battlegrounds in the fight for gun control is no longer a metaphor.

    Kids – five year olds, preteens, college students – are being shot for our right to bear arms. Automatic, high-powered arms. Weapons designed for trained soldiers (like my husband who served in the special weapons division of the US Marine Corps).

    “Don’t take our freedoms”?? As a mother, I would give up my freedom for the life of my child.

    1. joplingirl

      They are not being shot for our right to hear arms. They are being shot by individuals who should not be allowed to bear arms. There is a very big difference.

      1. amyg

        I’m trying to see the difference, but I can’t find it.

        Legislators and pro-gun advocates continue to use the argument “it is our right to bear arms” when fighting gun control legislation. Meanwhile, the people who should not be allowed to bear arms have easier access to weapons b/c of a severe lack of gun control, and school children continue to be shot.

        I’m not trying to be terse or argumentative; this is how I interpret this debate.

        I cannot imagine the horrific scene your son experienced after the Oklahoma bombings. And, I agree w/ you, I don’t want all the guns thrown over the fence – I want them in the hands of trained professionals.

      2. Teri Post author

        It is not our right to bear arms. I don’t understand how this has become a slogan. Since when do any one of us belong to “a well-appointed militia”? And just like our forefathers could have never imagined air travel or the internet, they also couldn’t imagine an assault rifle.

      3. joplingirl

        So far legislation is at the state level. Check out The Brady Campaign’s online ranking of gun control state by state. They say “California’s universal background check system, retention of purchase records, limiting handgun purchases to one a month, and an assault clip ban are just some of the laws that provide a road map to preventing gun violence.”

        Even so here in LA where I live innocents are killed all the time by stray bullets from drive by shooters.

        We are all trained professionals or should be. It is incumbent on all of us to be as knowledgable as we can be about human nature.

        We live in a violent society which all of us have to take responsibility for. That’s is what I think. That kid in Portland is reported to have said he didn’t get the feeling he thought he would from shooting someone. He thought it would feel good.

        Wonder where he got that idea?

  7. Teri Post author

    I’m going to back to this question: Do you feel any different, or have your views changed, in the last 18 months? I hate that I’m less shocked when something happens; just another news day, nothing I can do about it. I hate it that we keep giving the names and showing the photos of shooters, even when we say we’re not going to — let’s just keep glamorizing it.

    And if gun control in other developed countries has decreased mass shootings, isn’t it worth it to try it? While I believe that we also have a huge issue with treating mental illness, surely we aren’t the only one. And yet we are the only ones with (seemingly weekly) mass shootings.

    1. Averil Dean

      Fewer guns in the public means fewer deaths by gunshot, and fewer murders overall. That’s simple arithmetic, proven again and again in countries where gun ownership is illegal. If more guns meant a safer population, we’d be the safest fucking country on the planet.

      My views haven’t changed. I hated guns before and I hate them now. But I am tired of having the same argument over the same points, and having the NRA side discard objective evidence, or say that since we can’t completely eradicate violence we shouldn’t do anything at all. It’s the horseshittiest argument imaginable. How about we just try for better? One fucking baby step, for all the babies we’ve lost?

  8. joplingirl

    So far I can’t see any first world country except The Netherlands which completely restricts ownership of guns by private citizens. Countries which do completely restrict ownership to police or military include: Kenya, North and South Korea, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.

    Not exactly exemplars of civil liberty.

    For the record I am not a member or proponent of the NRA. I seldom take an extreme stance. I’m for stricter regulation of ownership like that initiated by Australia.

    1. Teri Post author

      I, too, am not talking about complete restriction. That would be ridiculous on the other end of the spectrum. And like Australia would be just fine.

  9. Alecia

    The majority of school schootings are done, sadly, by kids from broken families. That objective, undeniable trend is TROUBLING on many levels. Parents are not PARENTING, they are not INVOLVED. Parenting is not a spectator sport. We would see a sharp decline in these unthinkable acts if adults would step up.

  10. sherrystanfastanley

    I have been a gun control advocate since the very first school shooting I was aware of: one in California in 1979 by a teenage girl, which was the basis for the Boomtown Rats’ big hit, “I Don’t Like Mondays.” (The shooter supposedly said, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.)

    A few month ago, to take myself far outside my comfort zone as part of my 52/52 Project, I had a gun enthusiast friend take me to a shooting range.

    Did it change my mind about gun control? Not a bit. Did I enjoy the experience? Well, yes, I have to admit, firing a gun at a target was a bit of a high.

    But so is bowling. I think I’ll stick with that.

  11. chillcat

    Gosh Teri great post and a great flow of comments. We had a gun in the house when we lived in Mogadishu, just as civil war was starting and most nights there was shooting. My ex had done military service in Italy and claimed he knew what to do with it. We also had metal grill doors between the living area and the bedroom. For me it was hell and I knew were not supposed to be there and in the end he was lucky to get out. If think of all that death and bullets and wounds! ! My God I come from Australia and grew up on Starsky and Hutch.. I can’t stand reading about the school shootings.. just can’t. Such a different ball game over there.

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