November 8, 2013

More than Outliers

This week on Blogger Idol I published what would have been my "End of the Month Controversy." 

To be honest, this is not what I would have published here, as my Controversy. I like to take the time to go truly in depth in these topics. To explain every angle, to answer questions before they're asked.

But I had an 800 word maximum, and that meant I didn't get to do the subject the way I would have liked.

So you'll have to settle for this instead. I hope you enjoy it. :)

More than Outliers

A well regulated

You might have to cross state lines, or even go online, but you can get a gun. You can get a gun if you don't have a license. You can get a gun if you've had no training. You can get a gun if your wife has a restraining order after you bloodied her face and threatened her life. You can get a gun if you have severe PTSD or schizophrenia. You can get a gun if you're drunk. You can get a gun if you're blind.

There are about 270 million guns registered to civilians in the United States. 90 guns per 100 people. That's only the number that are registered, and only an estimate. We don't even know how many guns we have .

But we do know how many people guns kill each year. Each day, in my city, it's nearly two deaths every single day.

It's hardly even news.

I could tell you how many times I've seen a gun in the last ten years, being emptied blindly in the midst of a pointless argument, as onlookers scatter. I need both hands to count the times I've peered through my windows to give descriptions to 911, cataloged nondescript grey sweatpants and white t-shirts running towards the trees behind my building. I could tell you my neighbors nearly moved after a bullet implanted itself in the headrest of their minivan's driver's seat.

I could tell you when I worked in the projects everyone carried a gun. They'd all been shot, had scars of torn flesh and children and brothers and parents lost. Because a bullet doesn't mourn.

And I will tell you the untrained, reckless, panicked or boasting masses in the streets are as unlike a militia as the third shift wait staff at Denny's.

being necessary to the security
When somebody decides to kill, they nearly always use a gun.

We know gun manufacturers like to say you need a gun to protect you from a gun.

We know they lose nothing when their products take a life.

of a free state
America has more guns per capita than any other country in the world. America also has the most citizens in prison.

the right of the people to keep and bear arms
But only some arms. No anthrax, no smallpox blankets, no flash drive of information or can of napalm.

Only the machines that do nothing but wield death, that serve one purpose and one purpose only.

And two thirds of Americans who die from gunshot wounds? Aimed and fired at themselves.

Because a bullet doesn't hesitate.

shall not be infringed.
The sensation of a gun in your hands is exhilarating. Empowering. With a gun in your hands you feel powerful. With a gun in your hands, you feel in control.

We distance ourselves from mass shooters. Adam Lanzas and James Eagan Holmes and Black Trenchcoat Mafias... we say they are disturbed, evil, psychotic. We call them monsters. We say that without guns, they would have found another way to kill. That society's failings are those of our abysmal mental health care resources, not the gun lobby.

Most public shooters aren't psychopaths without a conscience- they are people, seeking the validation of notoriety. And notoriety they receive. But their body count is minutiae compared to the everyday tally. The thousands of ignored fatalities.

Most shooting victims in my city are bystanders. People cowering in their houses when bullets fly, through walls and windows and human flesh.

Most other victims weren't facing mysterious assailants, but somebody they knew. The random murders of the world... those are the outliers.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
These words were written by the same men, at the same time, as the 3/5s compromise. By the people who granted "inalienable rights" only to white men of property. These words are of a different time, of inexpressibly fallible character.

And had the authors of this one sentence been beyond reproach, would they have quaked at the prospect of so many dead, so fast, at the hands of so few?

The time is long past to ask- why do we want this kind of weapon? Why is it acceptable to profess your dedication to a murder machine made of metal and not of sarin gas?

And beyond that, what gives any person the right to wield another's death?

When will we finally acknowledge that yes, guns kill, and they have killed enough?

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