|Posted on January 14, 2013 at 8:25 PM|
Let's play a game.
They come in different shapes and sizes, but that doesn't have anything to do with whether they can get the job done. If you have one, it's hard to keep your hands off of it. Failing to use it safely can really ruin someone's day. In this country, we can safely assume that at least half of the population has one.
If you guessed penises (peni?), you have a filthy, filthy mind. And you're wrong.
The correct answer is guns. Of course, we could spend all day making jokes about how guns are just extensions of everyone's favorite pokey parts, but that's too easy.
Over the last few weeks, I've heard just about every reason not to try and rein in our national love affair with hand cannons, and I gotta say, none of them are terribly compelling. I've read, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," so many times on my Facebook feed that my default response has gone from trying to debate the issue calmly and rationally to just posting this clip in the comments section:
Nothing says you're a godless Liberal quite like an anti-gun video featuring a transvestite Englishman
Now, to be clear, I don't want an outright ban on all firearms. For example, I have no problem with hunters who own rifles and shotguns because their version of art is to paint the forest floor with Bambi's insides. Also, I fuckin' hate geese, so go ahead and blast those honking rats right the hell out of the sky, thank you very much.
What I honestly don't understand, however, is this bizarre need to own military grade weapons under the guise of self-defense. I think a person who is genuinely concerned with putting a hole through an intruder could do it just as well with their hunting shotgun as they could with an Uzi.
One of the tactics floating around out there is to create a false equivalency between guns and things like cars, hammers, knives, forks, and, I shit you not, stairs. Here's the thing though, all of these things are tools designed with a much more benign purpose than whittling down gratuitous members of our species. A car, hammer, etc., is only dangerous when misused, either accidentally or deliberately. A gun is only dangerous when used properly. Look, we humans are good at inventing things that make jobs easier. I'm sure it was exhausting hacking enemies apart with a broad sword. The gun, like all tools, makes us better at a particular thing. It's easier to travel thanks to automobiles, we don't have to try and drive nails in with our foreheads anymore thanks to hammers, and guns make the average person a very effective and efficient killer – that's what they do.
Another argument involves taking the position that guns are so ingrained in our society that it would be impossible to ever get them off the streets and out of the hands of average 'Muricans. To these people I say, we put a man on the moon. It is subversively unpatriotic to say that this country can't do something just because it's hard. It will take a long time and it won't be easy, but we can reduce the number of guns out there and make our schools and neighborhoods safe.
There seems to be two different groups of gun nuts out there that are unbalanced enough to oppose common sense changes to the gun laws already on the books. The first group believes that owning an arsenal is their birthright because of an Amendment that isn't even the first one that the founders came up with. They fail to understand that the Constitution isn't Holy writ handed down by baby Jesus to George Washington so that we could guarantee that this land would become God's favorite vacation destination. It is designed to change with the times and it is time for a change.
The second group is the tinfoil hat crowd, these moonstruck lunatics are so afraid of an invading army, or even worse, our own government, that they see being armed as the only thing protecting us from dirty politicians, Mexicans, gays, atheists, Muslims, or whatever other bogeyman Fox News has concocted. Is our government a little on the shady side? Sure, but they are more inept than corrupt. I don't think big brother is anymore untrustworthy than every other powerful, well-financed, influential body on the planet. They are every bit as bad as the Catholic Church, BP, AIG, or Monsanto, to name a few. Besides, a whole platoon of Billy Bobs in jacked up 4X4's isn't going to stop a well trained professional military, no matter what Red Dawn would have you believe.
Once again, I am not strictly anti-gun, but I do have an issue with assault weapons being in the hands of the sweaty masses. I think guns should be harder to get, not easier. I think people convicted of any crime should be unable to purchase a gun. I think gun owners should be required to carry insurance on their weapons to cover any damage, hospital expenses, or loss of life resulting from the use of their gun by themselves or anyone else. I think conceal and carry laws should be repealed.
In 36 years, I have never been in a situation where a gun was needed. I don't allow guns in my home. When a probably inbred redneck pulled his gun out in the parking lot at work and started shooting at some ducks that were flying overhead, I told the HR lady that the next time I saw a gun at work, I was going home. No discussion, no asking for permission, and I didn't care if the gun was unloaded and perfectly safe, I would leave and not come back until it was gone.
We clearly have a problem and we need to address it, but there are a few things that we need to agree on first. 1. My kids, and every other innocent person out there, are exponentially more important than your "right" to own a handheld killing machine. 2. Just owning a gun means that you are more likely to be at least abstractedly connected to the loss of an innocent life than someone like me who doesn't own one. 3. You have to stop pretending that your gun is anything other than what it is: a machine for killing. You may use it for sporting purposes, but that doesn't change what it was made for. 4. Stop acting like gun owners are the most responsible citizens out there because they aren't. They're just as flaky, emotional, quick to anger, and unpredictable as the rest of us. I know people who have conceal/carry permits and I wouldn't trust most of them to light my BBQ pit, let alone walk around with a deadly weapon hidden in their pants.
I believe that a change is coming and I don't think it will necessarily be at the hands of this, or any other, administration. The kind of change we need will happen organically as guns become more taboo. But for now, go ahead and stroke it when you're feeling down. Just remember that firing prematurely is going to make a mess bigger than what a Kleenex or dirty sock can handle.