The timing of this article could not be more wrong. Or more right. Like many of you, I have been watching the coverage of the latest mass shooting in San Bernadino, California. I have gone from being sickened by the horror of the shooting to being downright angry about the nitpicking by the cable networks I watch over whether the shooting was a jihadist terrorist event or a workplace disgruntled employee event; whether the one shooter radicalized the other; even whether now is the “right” time to discuss the issue of Guns in America.
But I’ve been wrestling with the question of gun violence in particular, and violence in general, for the last few weeks. Too many people in this world are killing each other, for reasons great and small, or for no reason at all.
When all is said and done, I just want the killing to stop. How is it that we have become so fearful of any and every thing that we can justify killing whoever doesn’t agree with us, or look like us, act like us, or think like us?
With this question in mind, here is my response to all the madness I have been watching recently.
I just don’t get the attraction to guns, even though I played with them when I was a child. You see, even though I was exposed to guns on television, in Westerns, war dramas, and crime dramas, it never occurred to me to really want to own or shoot a gun. I just liked to pretend!
I wanted to be a “cowgirl,” like Annie Oakley or maybe the blonde girl Penny on the TV show Sky King. I wanted to fancy-twirl my sidearm and deftly slip it back into the holster like Matt Dillon did on Gunsmoke, or Maverick or The Rifleman or Rawhide or Lee Marvin, or any other of those take-no-prisoner “heroes” from yesteryear.
The closest I ever came to guns was the toy guns I played shoot-em-up with, along with my cousins and my neighborhood friends—we played Cowboys & Indians, and “war” (marching up and down the street with our fathers’ and uncles’ soldier hats and our imaginary guns, doing pre-Bill-Murray-Stripes “boom-shaka-laka” drill moves). We even played with cap guns(!), with the sulfur smell of smoke rising from the spent caps.
But I don’t think any of us were stupid enough to think we could really go find an actual gun and shoot it to wound or kill. We knew it was just make believe.
So when the Republi-Con politicians and gun fanatics start throwing out gems like “Guns don’t shoot people….; people shoot people,” or “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to send in a good guy with a gun,” well…you can imagine what I’d really like to do in response.
But here is my “reasoned” response.
First of all: Guns don’t kill people. People—with guns—kill people, far too often, and with horrific and tragic results. Of course, people also kill people with other weapons: their bare hands, fists, knives, baseball bats, cars, lead pipes, etc. There is nothing magical about a gun.
Second: The most sane way to stop a bad guy with a gun is not for a “good” guy to shoot him first, or simultaneously, or even after. The most sane way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guy—and, for that matter, out of the hands of the “good” guy too.
Because, what is the purpose of a gun, anyway? To injure, maim, destroy, or kill a person, an animal, or an inanimate object. It is a tool of violence. Period. No good can come from firing a gun.
Apparently, we already have enough guns in the United States for every man, woman, or child to kill or wound every other man, woman, or child in this country.
And as if that weren’t enough, we also have the curious “nonlethal” weapon called a Taser.
Have you ever wondered what a Taser really is? I never wondered, but I recently found out what it is, from none other than Dr. Cyril Wecht, the forensic pathologist who, thanks to his work on the assassinated body of President John F. Kennedy back in 1963, has become the go-to expert on forensic pathology.
Several weeks ago, when the 2014 tasing death of one Linwood Lambert in a little Virginia town came to light [http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/driven-hospital-virginia-man-tased-shackled-and-dies-police-custody], Dr. Wecht enlightened me with the meaning of the word Taser.
TASER = T[homas] A. S[mith] E[lectric] R[ifle]. In other words, a Taser is an electric gun that fires an electric current instead of a bullet!
Let that sink in for awhile…. And then, consider, in addition to Mr. Lambert of Virginia, another person in our country who was tased to death.
In Baltimore, a little more than a year ago, a “combative” patient in a hospital was tased to death—in his hospital bed(!) because the hospital staff was too “afraid” of the patient to try to restrain him or calm him down. Instead, they called the police, who promptly tased the young… black… mentally challenged… physically ill man… to… death [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bs-md-ci-taser-death-20141028-story.html].
Of course, the Baltimore police were deemed to be justified in their action. It remains to be seen whether the Virginia police will get the same pass….
But it doesn’t matter whether it’s the police (good or bad), the terrorist (domestic or foreign), the robber, or the little two-year-old who accidently shoots his mother or his baby sister because his stupid parents left the gun out on the kitchen table, there is just too much violence in the world today. And I, for one, have had enough.
Maybe I am engaging in my own form of circular logic. All I know is that if we put down the weapons, took more time to think, used common sense, looked for the good in each other instead of the bad, and stopped pointing fingers at each other, we just might create a better world.
Call me crazy, but I believe that if we followed the Golden Rule—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you—we might just find Peace, Good Will to All People.