Control Your Gun, Mr. New

Yesterday I reblogged a very clever satire reflecting on the issue of gun control as it is currently being argued in US politics.  The most popular theme in this debate right now is the idea that guns don’t kill people, just like spoons don’t make people gain weight, and shoes aren’t responsible for kicking people.

I would like to cite this newspaper clipping which has been circulating around the internet as a prime example:

gun control

Yeah, we get it.  Your inanimate gun doesn’t do anything when left to its own devices.

Um, you do realize, sir, that you just left a shotgun, and the requite ammunition, on your front porch?  You left, for all intents and purposes, a loaded lethal weapon where you, yourself, admit the mail worker, the trash worker, and a small child had immediate access to it.

Let’s just assume, for the moment, that this isn’t also a satire.  (And I am going to cross my fingers and squinch my eyes and just hope against hope that it is.  Because, let’s be honest – we all know at least five pinheads who would do this just to make a point.)  Let’s assume “Walter New” actually left his personal, legally obtained, rightfully owned Remington 870 sitting on his front stoop.

In Walt New’s version of this satire, the gun sits there, lazy, lonesome, innocent, and unharming.

That. Is. Convenient.

Because in my version of this story, a man purposefully leaves an essentially loaded weapon on his porch within arm’s reach of a mail worker.  …They don’t have the best reputation for keeping their cool under pressure.

He leaves an intriguing piece of lethal mechanics available to little Ida Mae’s curious hands as she walks Coco the schnauzer down the road.  She takes it down to show Bobbie Jean, and ends up blowing her prepubescent head off.  Of course she can work a pump-action rifle – what do you think this is?  France?

He leaves a ready kill shot available for the trash worker, a guy out on work-release after getting a skip on that questionable manslaughter case.  It would have been a hard fifteen year sentence, but, man, he had a great lawyer.

Yeah, sure, guns don’t kill people on their own.  It’s irresponsible people with guns that are on the stand here, and you, Walter New, have just made that case.  So, thanks.

Mr. New posits in his letter to the editor that the news media suggests that guns kill people.  I think Mr. New is misinterpreting the news.  No one, no one, is suggesting that guns are walking around on spontaneously-evolved hind legs and shooting people with their own brand of artificial intelligence.  We’re three, four years from that kind of technology at best.

But let us be honest about what a gun is – it is a weapon.  It’s only function is to shoot things.  You do not dust with it.  You do not clean belly button lint with it.  You do not groom your dog with it.  You do not fluff your down pillows with it.  It is for shooting and shooting only.  It was made to kill.  So, though guns can do no harm without a human shooter, let us not pretend a gun is something that it is not.

People do not propose gun control legislation because the guns themselves are out of control.  To suggest that this is the issue at hand only brands one’s self as an ignoramus.  People propose gun control legislation, Mr. New, because gun controllers are not controlling their guns.

Even though your decision to leave a loaded killing machine within the grasp of school children is deplorably irresponsible, no one, Mr. New, wishes to take away your right to bear arms.

(Unless you run a meth lab.  Do you run a meth lab, Mr. New?  Because if you do, I should also point out that those places are crazy volatile and can blow at any second.  It is possibly even a worse place for your Remington than your front stoop.)

What I find most ironic is that Walt New cites in his letter to the editor that most gun violence is a problem of “criminals who misuse them.”  (See what I mean about the meth lab?)  And yet, gun-toters are the same census group who voted down the criminal background checks and waiting periods before being able to buy a firearm.

So, those who want the legislation agree with you – guns need operators to kill people.  Those who do not wish to lose the right to bear arms agree that it is criminals who misuse guns who cause the most damage, and cause the largest threat to society.  And yet it is again those same voters who turn down measures to attempt to keep the guns in the hands of responsible American hands, and refer back to the argument that guns needs hands to operate them?

This is my argument.  I’ll leave it in your hands.

Celebratory Gunfire: Why You Can’t Drink in the Park

gunfire

Let’s say you want a drink.  (I know, it’s far-fetched already.  Just bear with me.)  If you are in Jolly Old England, you may pop open your favorite bottle of Beefeater gin, mix yourself a drink, and take a stroll around the neighborhood.  Just walk your Irish wolfhound through the park while sipping your stirred martini.

If you are in the United States, you must drink that martini, shaken or stirred, indoors.  Whether it be in a home or a bar or a restaurant, as long as you’re inside you may consume to your heart’s content.  (Or until you start inappropriately groping the waitstaff, and are then flagged by the bartender.)  But if you want to take that drink outside, you had better be prepared to conceal your bottle in a brown paper bag and dodge the cops, because that is illegal.

And here is why:

A British man was having troubles with his landlord.  The problems escalated until finally one day this happened:  it was tea time, and the tenant did not offer the landlord tea.  “I was rude to him,” the man told his wife.  “He won’t be back.”  Problem. Solved.

An American man was having troubles with his landlord.  The problems escalated until finally one day this happened:  the guy took a Louisville Slugger to the landlord’s car, then urinated in his gas tank.  Problem. Solved.  Solved.  Solved?

The culture of America is one of robustness.  We don’t act calmly or rationally when we’re sober and happy:

  • “What a great Thanksgiving dinner.  Let’s go outside and shoot rifles wildly into the trees.”
  • The Who is playing?  Great!  How many people can we trample to death on the way in?”
  • “Hey, The Phillies won the World Series!  … Let’s set this car on fire!”

Because of this American temperament, this robustness, time has taught us that we cannot trust ourselves to walk around wherever we want, pumping ourselves full of liquid courage.  When the cultural disposition is Cowboy Embodied – us walking around with our hips cocked, our guns slung, just waiting for someone to start a fight so we may assert our assertiveness – the last thing we can be trusted with is public drunkenness.

Of course this isn’t to say that every Brit solves his problems with passive aggression, nor that every American is willing to take a dump on your Honda.  I’ve never even held a real rifle, let alone engaged in celebratory gunfire after a delicious roasted turkey.

However, it is undeniable that as a culture Americans are highly expressive, and encouraged to be so in every facet of our lives.  Any self-help book, any guide to success, any episode of Dr. Phil – they all encourage us to be open with our wants and feelings.  To be a healthy, functional American, one has to be able to assert himself and communicate in an effective and assertive manner.

So in a culture where we are expected to be forceful in a state of sobriety, where can we go other than bat-shit-crazy when our inhibitions are released (via all those shots of Jagermeister)?  By denying ourselves the luxury of drinking in public, we are denying ourselves the obvious opportunity to unleash that beast into the urban wild.

Unlike a culture where “unleashing the beast” amounts to throwing copious amounts of breadcrumbs out the side window, so that birds may mess on the neighbor’s lawn.