It is a popular fear, and no one’s quite sure where it started, and many people reading this will recognize it — the idea that President Obama plans to take your guns. It’s not only popular among those with tinfoil accessories (though it seems that, by the time a tinfoil hat is necessary, the reason for wearing it has already failed – not only might you be insane your fashion sense is fucked), but among people who see the idea of a traditional life going away for them, have made this a symbol issue of ruralism, the idea that Obama nefariously waits to take all the guns — that’s right, even that Red Rider .22 you got for your birthday and you jammed it because you thought you could beat a stop sign with the butt of a rifle. But I paid for the stop sign, you say, and 20 days community service was absolute bullshit.
The point is, despite all this talk about Red Riders and rifle butts and Obama tapping his index fingers atop his throne of bones, no guns have been taken. Except guns taken from people who have previously shot someone, and are then going to the stripey hole. Which is good, right? Someone commits a crime, you take away the instrument of that crime. That’s justice 101: someone kills another person, that person must have their guns taken away. No one gets arrested by the police for murder and gets to keep their piece when they’re booked and indicted. Let’s apply this.
If someone commits a robbery at the age of 12, and it’s more than a slim jim when you thought your mom for sure wouldn’t buy it because she had already got you a big mac, how about putting them at the back of the gun line? It doesn’t have to be a restriction: an application, and a review, and a line. If someone has incidents of violence, drug use, recklessness, burning of kittens, killing ants with convex lenses like the worst Sherlock Holmes ever, etc, you make them wait until they realize — well, one of two things: you’ve found out about the ants and they’re probably wanted for murder, or they will have to get a gun from someone else and FAST. Criminal actions past robbery, such as homicide, and even suicide, are done as spur of the moment cries for the sweet release of nothingness.
In a documentary covering the suicides at Golden Gate Bridge in California it was found that many people who were resigned to killing themselves in the moment, when saved never tried to kill themselves again, and even found a renewed appreciation for their lives. Now, is it easier to harm another person or yourself? Put at this way: if you had to choose between holding your hand in a fire or holding the hand of another in a fire, how long would you let that fucker burn?
Now, since we have no such documentary showing what happens when someone, near to committing murder, is suddenly stopped peaceably without popular notice or going to jail for attempted murder, and how their lives are affected when and if the instinct to straight up murder a fool returns. Now, we live in a word in which people have to straight up murder fools, because we look at it in this light – that people murder things, not other people, real and as capable of feeling and passion as they are – and they don’t do this with any other tragedy.
The reason the solution to gun violence is gun violence has nothing to do, necessarily, with guns themselves; but they are representative of a traditional, rural way of life, when to live off the land was a sign of coming of age, and self-sufficiency was looked at with the poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ted Kaczynski, and those survivalists who still haven’t received word in their bunkers that the Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen.
But if you look at the argument long enough, the obviousness of it being less of an active desire to murder, or be party to thousands of deaths a year, as it as an active desire to feel like you’re a part of the fight. The fight isn’t on the street, with the guns, but in the arena of ideals over what it means to be American, and whether the progress of the 21st century is possible, or even compatible, with what blue states and liberal jerk-offs like me would call ‘red states’ — but these people are just as people as other people, not necessarily mindless racists who condone murder. The difference between dismissing someone out of hand and arbitrary murder is the same thing, in a way, as either way a sort of life is being taken. One is a way of life, the other is a way to live. And to attempt to remove the essence of a life through force will always be met by hesitating, and it is the understandable disquiet of feeling a disconnect between the culture of your formative years and where it appears to be heading.
These are not caricatures or imbeciles and are as American as Americans can be, yet we must agree that no one body or person should be able to define what that means to the exclusion of undesirables, public or political, for dehumanization once started is hard to stop. Thinking of people as homogeneous, ill-defined groups makes it easy to ignore the individual human cost, something history demands us to consider.
Now, if Obama had enacted plans to take half the guns in supply stores from around the country, and there are, for the sake of argument, 10,000 homicides committed with guns purchased at licensed dealers. Had Obama taken half of the guns from the supply train, or made the owners and managers liable for selling weaponry to potentially dangerous people — to campaign against the checking of backgrounds when selling a weapon but think it’s fine to check a life history to employ someone at McDonald’s without seeing that this is drastically fucked illustrates this problem. But is it really about the Constitution, or the 2nd Amendment?
Well, it’s about a spirit, a spirit that many people in Red States feel is coming to an end, and it has nothing to do with the constitution, but the constitution of Americans, the constitution of American character, and perhaps that tradition is dying out. That only calls for more attempts at bridging this gap, instead of finding an asshole on your side to fight the asshole on somebody else’s side. You don’t defeat an asshole by becoming them; you become another monster along the path to progress that must be slain.
Lastly, with the Patriot Act being signed into law, it effectively granted emergency powers in the dealing with terrorism which allowed for constitutional rights to be suspended: held without being charged with a crime, subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, denied a right to a lawyer, a phone call cause that’s just something from the movies, or a trial, as people now sit in Gitmo without being charged with a crime. This is convenient though a violation of the constitution and the moment it becomes arbitrary, when you can justify the suspension of constitutional rights for the sake of necessity, the fight to keep the convenience of what you personally support is when you must admit that it is selective and based on the level of comfort you have in regards to fear; terrorists pose a threat to our way of life, to the extent that major political parties and their supporters are all for diminishing the 1st Amendment that grants the freedom of speech and of religion as a response engendered by fear, again, of the Others, who will try to take your gun, one of the remaining vestiges of American manifest destiny and self-determination.
It’s not just a phallic symbol, or a substitute for masculinity, but a vestige of a former life not yet taken by liberals or through progressives; and these people, and they are people as much as people can be people, feel their way of life is being challenged, that it’s dying. And, for the most part, it is. What has long been the pillar of rural communities, the church, has seen a drastic shift in social attitudes toward the church, with issues that very much matter to these people – whether they should be allowed to choose for others is not something I will cede – which are essentially moral issues, issues disguised as moral issues but used by calculating panderers, those who find comfort in the Monster, as long as it’s their monster, and lets them keep the comforts of their traditional fears, allowing us to stay safe knowing we sacrificedour skin to save our bones.
So, what do we do George, what do we do?
I mentioned earlier the idea of screenings as a measure of delaying a gun purchase in the hopes that it might allow potential murderers to rethink their plan while they go through the bureaucracy of having their police record checked, possible behavioral problems, and when the check comes through, the arms provider would be responsible for making a decision: to allow for said person to possess a firearm. Now, in this system, those who sell guns to people who end up committing murder, the person who provided them would then be in the awkward position of habing to submit their report of the bill of sale, the issues involved in the character evaluation, and then try to justify why they’d risk selling a pistol to someone who once burnt down an orphanage.
Now, if you can take 1 out of 10 potential gun deaths out of the equation, and 10 out of one hundred, extrapolated to 100,000 gun deaths, simply by denying one out of ten due to past behavioral concerns could save 10,000 lives. By holding salesmen responsible for the weapons they sold, it will make them more diligent in attempting to see those who are purchasing guns have the soundness of mind to be entrusted with something capable of easily, EASILY, taking many, many lives. This is why the argument that ‘guns don’t kill people, people do’ fails for so many people; for one, without the gun, the people wouldn’t be killed, and a gun allows for long distance, easy murder, the mass killings of many people with little to no true skill.
Now, if we lived in feudal Japan and were protected by a local warrior, with a sword, to fight passing warlords, with a sword, these people would be some of the most highly skilled warriors of all time and would need great skill to kill two people with their skill and weapon. While a kid, lazily, could wipe out that entire village, shooting that punk ass samurai from 30 meters. With a sword, it’d be a lot harder to kill more than 5 people without getting straight kilt. The right to hold the life of another person in y0ur hand should at least be more difficult than getting a driver’s license, as with driving without proper training you can easily take someone’s life, though it would be accidental.
Lastly, consider the implications of such responsibility by replacing the gun with a heroin needle. Heroin is strictly banned, for therapeutic and medicinal usage, because of its corrosive nature of the body and spirit, the physical dependency, the degradation of character — and yet, it would be hard, indeed, to take out half a bar with a needle full of heroin. You’d have to refill and cook and then just hope to prick as many people as possible.
WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BARE ARMS.*
But the argument that heroin doesn’t kill people, people kill people is never made — because heroin has no built in symbolism hard-coded into the framing document of our young democracy. So, to understand it as a hold-out for one vestige of a traditional world some feel to be fading is better than laughing at the funeral. And though it may be long burning, and yet protracted, in the end the gap between safety and retaining traditional cultural identities may be yet bridged and all Americans, red and blue, urban and rural, will have the right to bare arms. And perhaps someday we’ll return to a world of the sword, with a samurai at the watchtower of every building, there to protect us from ourselves. Because as long as this remains the couch of traditionalism we must never rise from, we might as well admit it to be born of fear, raised by feral nomads, looking for freedom loving people everything, to take their jobs and destroy their way of life.
*I’m not apologizing for that joke.