You’re driving blissfully along an empty road, maybe, oh, say, three in the afternoon. It’s a suburban neighborhood, the sun is shining, you’re singing loudly to a Kajagoogoo song that is not “Too Shy”, (yes, there is one, don’t get snotty), and you’re happy as the proverbial lark. You pass a sign that says the speed limit is 35. You look down. Since your car is all fancy-schmancy, you know thanks to a digital readout that you are doing 41. There are no cops around. There are no other cars around. You’ve never been in a high-speed collision of any kind. You’re a teensy bit late to your next destination and your car is criminally fuel-efficient and full of gas. But since 35 is the speed limit, you slow down.
Did no one. Ever.
My working hypothesis here is that rules and laws are really only embraced if you have a leaning toward what they state already. If you have had experiences that support the rule, say you were going too fast and squished an adorable kitten that ran into the road, had to explain it’s death to the equally adorable six-year old it belonged to, and then received your speeding ticket in the mail, you’d be inclined to immediately tap the brake a bit. But if you think 35 is a dumbass speed limit and you feel a palpable ire rise up in the back of your head when you see the letters M, P, and H, then you’re gonna continue on your merry way. I truly truly believe this.
So I have a hard time understanding people when they use written laws to back up their points of view instead of their personal biases. I know, supposedly I can’t argue with written law, but I can totally argue with points of view. This is why people point to things in books and say, “See? See? You can’t do that!” or, “See? See? I get to do that!” no matter what common sense or, worse, MY experience says. And it’s true, I CAN’T argue with written law. First of all, if you’ve ever had to argue with an inanimate object, you know how embarrassing it can be. Screaming at a coffee maker, “LOOK AT ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!” is a sure sign of caffeine withdrawal. But I also have no sympathy for written rules and laws. They have no inherent reason to exist. I can’t stop my inner four-year old coming out and saying, “But why?” when confronted with a written law as being the excuse and assumed argument ender. For instance, I don’t give a shit how old the Bible is, if there’s no rational and personal explanation given to go with those Commandments, I just see them as a big, fat, “Because I said so.” And that’s not good enough for me. (Hold for potential lightening strike…… nope. All good. I told you, my Higher Power has a sense of humor and supports me on this.)
I’ve been trying for a while now to understand why we are so freely allowed so many guns and why so many people are pointing to an old piece of paper but displaying such modern and personal passion about it. You know I am happier when, even if I don’t agree with a viewpoint, I get it. It makes me less likely to take something personally and more likely to make it personal. So. What the fuck, Second Amendment? I’m totally confused. First of all, it clearly says, “well-regulated” and a gym bag full of .45’s isn’t my definition of well regulated. Plus, it would seem that any attempts to regulate our current sale of arms is being met with resistance by those who… cite the Second Amendment. So already ya lost me. But it goes on.
Let’s look at some of the more vocal citizens who feel they need their weapons to defend their property and family from the threat of government invasion. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the government has these things called drones. They’re super cool. They can kill you like hella easy. They have gas, and bombs and snipers and, what’s more, if they wanted your money, chances are you’d just go to the ATM one day and it would punch you in the face. I don’t think people REALLY think they can fight off the impending U.S. Forces in their bunker with their guns. No matter how many rounds they can fire without reloading. Really?
So then, hows about protecting your property and loved ones from nasty criminal types? We need guns for that, right? We deserve the right to protect ourselves from Bad Men, right? Yes. Yes we do. But A) a gun is not the only deterrent, let’s be honest and B) if your gun is locked up the way it should be, I doubt there are many Bad Men who will comply while you hold up an index finger and say, “Wait right there. One minute.” If it’s not locked up, well then the chances are good the hand holding it might not be yours.
No! No! Studies! Proof! Rights! I can make a case for anything. We are back to my original point. Rules and numbers and laws are only good if you already believe what they say. I would much rather people just got nasty and honest with themselves and each other and say what they mean. It sure as hell would help me understand a lot better. I can UNDERSTAND when someone says, “I’m scared and it makes me feel safe,” or, “I’m weak and it makes me feel strong,” or, “I’m bored and it makes me feel excited.” Unfortunately, my own perspective will probably make me follow up with, “Tough shit.”
I want to know how it can be bad to make it harder for anyone to get a hold of a gun. Because these shootings are not being done by Bad Men, “criminals” or “crazies” without hope. People who were angry and desperate and had a very loud thing that could make their screaming be heard are doing them. Children of many ages who aren’t lacking in training or respect for the weapons, rather lacking an alternative in their own minds and have access to something very dangerous.
At least this was my experience. When I was sixteen, and the girls gathered in the high school bathroom every morning to plug their irons in and re-curl their hair that had been ravaged by the Oregon weather. They were very chirpy and very popular and I was very not. And one girl, not the prettiest or the most popular, but certainly the happiest made me cry sometimes. She was terribly nice to me. She was terribly nice to everyone and not many people were kind to me at that time of my life. She smiled as if she knew everything was okay. That made me cry.
My dad kept his Colt .45 in a box next to his chair in the living room. He made sure I knew how to remove the cartridge and that I should always treat every gun as if it were loaded. So I was very careful the day I brought it to school. I was clear that I didn’t want to take it out until I was in the bathroom, in a stall. And that the girls wouldn’t be happy when they saw it. And that for one second, that one pretty, chirpy senior would know how MY life felt, with its fear and its pain and its dark awareness that all was not right and nothing was fair. And then we would all die and my Dad would be sorry. And it wouldn’t hurt any more.
I obviously didn’t. The gun sat with its heavy weight in my bag all day and I was almost euphoric in my awareness of it. I returned it to its place next to Dad’s table when I got home. I ultimately didn’t want to make my mother cry.
Years later, I couldn’t get that gun away from my father, in spite of his demonstrated lack of sanity and judgment. So he easily blew his brains out when he decided his time had come last June.
They point at the written law and say, “It’s my right!” I ask why. A good law should have a good reason.
They say, “Cars kill more people than guns!” I say, “But a gun doesn’t get me out to Santa Monica in two hours.”
They say, “Why make guns illegal? Criminals will get them anyway.” They say, “If someone’s going to commit suicide, they’re going to do it anyway.” Yet, my own perspective says, “Yeah, but what say we make it as fucking hard to do as possible?”
Then, in the lull, we could maybe look at the REAL problems that make human souls feel such pain in the first place.