Yet another mass shooting, this time in San Bernardino, California. It triggered the predictable outcries for gun control, while others accuse these voices of “politicizing tragedy.” Meanwhile, an op-ed from the Los Angeles Times cynically observes that “Perhaps this is the gruesome price of freedom.”
I have never fired a weapon beyond a BB gun. My knowledge of firearms is minimal. However, there was a time when I briefly brandished my friend’s empty, military-grade shotgun. Black and cruel, the metal was cold in my palms, and I was aware that I held death itself in my hands. I wanted to smash it across the pavement, grind the fractured pieces under my heel like poisonous bugs, yell at my friend for ever purchasing the accursed thing.
As a hunter and gun-owner, my father recognizes the complexities of the gun debate. “A twenty gauge shot gun is all you need to shoot a deer. Anything stronger, and all you’re asking for is an accident,” he said.
“If you carry a gun, are you willing to point that gun at someone’s chest?” he added. “Would you end their life over your wallet, or a simple misunderstanding? Are you willing to live with the consequences? It’s a decision that could ruin your life.”
He recounted an time two years ago when a man bought a shotgun and rounds at Wal Mart, immediately went out to the field and ended himself. “Had the law required the man to wait a week, perhaps he could have met someone who might have helped him,” he said.
Like many of us, including myself, my father’s opinions on gun control were painfully disjointed and without a clear resolution.
Assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenades, armor-piercing bullets — these weapons are designed solely to kill human beings. There is no moral ground to justify the existence of these murder-machines. That anyone would seek to personally possess them should be treated as insanity, and addressed as such. When liberals are outraged that civilians are permitted to amass terrifying armories in their basements, they are definitely on to something.
But then they slip off the other end of the horse. In the magical world of socialism, they believe a government can solve all our problems.
They must be unaware that governments are the most violent institutions on the planet, responsible for the deaths of more than 200 million people in the 20th Century alone. That the American government is the biggest weapons dealer on the planet. A government feeds upon death and violence like vampires. Like enormous, bloated insect queens, governments leech and swell on our tax dollars extorted at the end of a gun.
Every episode of genocide in the past century was preceded by assiduous efforts to first disarm the victims. Turkish Armenia. The Holocaust. Soviet-occupied Poland. Guatemala under the 1950’s military dictatorship. Mao Zedong’s China. Chiang Kai-Shek’s White Terror. Uganda under Idi Amin. Cambodia under Pol Pot. Zimbabwe. Dar Fur.
So tell me, gun control crusaders: do you believe that an institution which thrives and breeds upon violence could stop bloodshed? Do you trust that our government, armed to the teeth and eyelashes, would not take advantage of a weaponless populace? A prime example of doublethink.
Ah, but these are trained soldiers, people insist to me. They aren’t backwoods-dwelling, incestually bred white rednecks. Soldiers and policemen wear a uniform. They murder only when commanded. They tuck us in bed and rock us to sleep every night.
Trained soldiers who, let’s willfully ignore, unleash drone strikes on wedding parties, hospitals and schools. Soldiers who have bombed Muslim countries into dust as fine as Arabian desert sand.
It would be paranoia to suggest every government that pursues gun registration or confiscation is intent on genocide. Certainly, European nations are not gearing up concentration camps. Ours, however, is the most militaristic and hegemonic nation on the planet. The fact remains that disarming the populace historically remains a crucial condition for regimes before they murder and silence those who dissent. Don’t let it cross your mind that, in the words of Sinclair Lewis, “it can’t happen here.”
Is there a difference between defending oneself against a thief on the street and defending oneself against a tyrant’s standing army? Gun control advocates, with the magic spells of language, have conjured one. In fact, a government might be worse than a robber. The thief in the ally will leave you alone after he robs you. He will not parade behind you and pretend to protect you.
“All right, smarty-pants,” you must be thinking. “So what’s your solution to the gun problem?”
I once heard a tale of two friends on the beach. Thousands of starfish were washed up on the shore. One of them began picking up the starfish and throwing them back out to sea. “Why do you keep throwing them?” the other asked. “It won’t make a difference. The sun’s going to come up, and they will all die anyways.”
But his friend just picked up another starfish and tossed it in the water. “It made a difference to that one,” he said.
Every mass shooting is preventable. There is a finger on the trigger, and that finger’s nerve endings connect it to a brain that is riddled with pain and delusion.
For every shooting that has occurred, there must be many more that were prevented and that we will never know about after a long, honest conversation. Because someone got help. Because someone found a friend.
Be aware of your neighbor’s pain. You don’t know what might be stored in his basement. There will always be laws, and there always will be those who break those laws, but when it comes down to it, only you can prevent gun fire.