Falling In Love With Guns

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Falling in love with guns,
Many folks have two.
What are we to do?
God help us.

–Marlene Dietrich

If you’re a politician, the best way to look like you’re doing something for people that want you to do something, while at the same time making sure people that don’t want you to do something are equally satisfied, is in the realm of gun control. Let’s look at last month’s mass shooting as an example (it doesn’t matter when you’re reading this, you’re still going to say, “Oh, yeah, I read about that last month,” because we have one every month). As did happen then and many times before, the first thing politicians do/did/will do again in order to look both concerned and assertive, and at the same time please everybody including the NRA, is proclaim, “We have to get better ways of keeping guns out of the hands of unstable people!”

Hey, we’re all unstable. Being unstable is what we do best. We’re humans. If any species is going to be allowed to own firearms I’d rather have it be wolves. Even wolves with fingers.

As an example of assertive impotence, because of one such mass shooting several years ago our Senate pushed through a law that prohibited the use of 13-shot magazines for semi-automatic pistols. For clarity on what this means, let’s digress for a moment here and review an excerpt from Guns for Dummies:

The magazine is a long, narrow box that slides into the handle of the gun and holds the bullets; think PEZ dispenser, but bigger and made out of metal, and without the Mickey Mouse or Bozo the Clown head on it. Its capacity can range between 6 to 13 bullets for a semi-automatic pistol. A semi-automatic pistol is one that has a gas powered mechanism that cocks the hammer back automatically after you fire a shot and spits out the empty shell casing, while simultaneously loading another bullet into the chamber. This is the type of gun you see in modern movies all the time because it looks cool and facilitates rapid firing, which is fun and exciting. This doesn’t have the little cylinder thing in the middle that spins around, like the ones you see in Westerns.

The Senate, in the interest of public safety, and themselves, voted to ban the 13-shot magazine for handguns. The plan was this would thwart any would-be assassin from firing off 13 shots in quick succession, provided they couldn’t afford two guns and only had one hand. And while most people have two hands, this having to eject one empty magazine and load another is still a complicated process, taking as long as, oh, three seconds. Certainly this is more than sufficient time for a merely wounded bystander to call 911 and prevent a real tragedy (six people dead being a tragedy, thirteen a real tragedy). Phew. Thank God this law passed. What kind of Wild West world would we be in if it hadn’t?

The defense of this transparently hollow and self-serving measure, as well as those similar to it (such as outlawing switchblade knives but not machine guns, in the interest of public safety), is always, “If this can prevent the death of just one person, then I know we have accomplished something good.” Mmmmm. No. Why? Because 29,999 gun fatalities per year is not an improvement on 30,000.

The only thing that made this magazine bill more ridiculous than it actually was, is the fact that when it was announced that this law would be going into place, and a future date for it assigned, the Smith and Wesson company went from one shift per day to three shifts per day and worked around the clock doing nothing but producing large capacity magazines up until the deadline–when it would become illegal to buy one, not own one. And I can’t fault them: Why should they take the moral high ground when nobody else is? Also, it’s their legal business. I actually feel compelled to give them an A+ for initiative.

Pro-gun people state that the right to bear arms is in the Constitution. I’m not the first to point this out, but so is slavery being okay. Also, it clearly states in the second amendment of the Constitution that each person has the right to bear arms on the chance that we’re invaded by Martians. This is a critical stipulation. Look it up.

Either way, if Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were around today, and you wanted to personally thank them for supporting your right to carry your Glock into Taco Bell or buy an AK-47 for you ten-year old daughter’s birthday, I’m sure in either case they would say, “Whoa, we didn’t mean that thing! What the hell is that?” What they were referring to back then, gun-wise, was a weapon that required you to be married because your wife had to be at the skinny end ramming a mini-ball down the barrel while you tried starting a fire in the flash pan with a pair of sticks while your child held his finger on the trigger waiting for the go-code from dad, all of you hoping that whatever it was that was intent on attacking you would need to stop and pee first. Guns were considered reasonably safe at the time the Constitution was written because it took an hour to fire one.

Beyond the Constitution, many people feel that owning a gun is some sort of natural right. To this I say if each human being were born with the ability to point their finger at someone and make that someone dead, I would want some sort of surgical procedure performed on each newborn that removed this ability. I don’t care if it’s natural. It’s not conducive to a productive and healthy society.

Regarding the argument of home defense, it’s a fact that a loaded gun in the house makes it five hundred times as likely that you or someone in your home–who’s not a burglar–will be seriously injured or killed in comparison to the probability that you’ll prevent an intrusion. Most people are not aware of this fact given that I just made it up, but that’s not the point. A gun for home defense is only slightly less dangerous than having a guard python in the hallway.

I don’t know why but a lot of people feel secure by sleeping with a gun next to their bed. A lot of other people feel secure by sleeping with a wolverine. I advise neither. Ideally the best home protection is six German Shepherds. You may not be a dog person, however. And cats have a history of letting strangers in. Your best defense, other than many German dogs–or a gun–would be to leave a mannequin sitting in a rocking chair in the living room facing away from the door. Put a wig on it with the hair in a bun so it looks from the back like Norman Bates’ mother. If you choose to go this route, in the summertime you could even leave the front door wide open to get a good nighttime breeze, because no one’s coming in.

I’m told it’s impossible to get rid of all the guns in America because if we outlaw handguns and assault weapons, people will still want and have rifles to go hunting. I realize that hunting is a tradition. I am not fond of this. I personally do not hunt. I don’t like killing something unless it really has it coming. Consequently I don’t understand the concept of killing for fun. I don’t understand the concept of downhill skiing for fun either, but that’s a different subject. While I would like everybody to also not like hunting, I realize this is not ever going to change since hunting’s been a tradition with humans ever since it was a necessity during the Pre-Grocery Store Era, when the alternative to hunting was death (or yams, which I think of as being closely related). So what I propose is that all hunting rifles be sixteen-feet long. This will provide a wonderful challenge to hunters just to aim it, making the hunt all that more intriguing. And if you don’t get your deer in November, you don’t have to feel bad, because nobody else will have either.

I know if we remove guns there will be both an activity void and underfed ego crisis amongst many, especially for those who feel that shooting a gun is both an aid to and symbol of their rugged, individualistic machismo. For those people I suggest caber tossing as a replacement. If you don’t know what a caber is, it’s a telephone pole. You throw it. This is such a manly activity that men who do it in Scotland wear skirts at the same time just to prove how incredibly confident in their manliness they are. Not only would this be a great activity for American males to take up in place of going to the shooting range, I would also note that there has never been a single incident of somebody accidentally wounding or killing themselves while cleaning their caber. So, gun guys, give caber tossing a try. Make sure to bend your knees. Also the skirt is optional. And if you enjoy caber tossing as much as I think you will, try caber hunting too.

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