"Blues from a Gun" - Jesus and Mary Chain
It seems that nearly every day now since Newtown some fresh evidence of the insanity of our gun culture comes our way. I can only conclude that we share our country with a lot of truly pathetic, deluded individuals, people who live in the grip of overwhelming fear, hatred, and paranoia that would seem to make life a living hell. Think about what it must be like to be a civilian who carries every day, someone who basically feels like they need to be able to deal death as part of their daily routine. How fucking sick and sad is that?
Even seemingly sane and "liberal" proponents of gun culture strike me as sad and fearful. This piece in the Times a few weeks ago, "Confessions of a Liberal Gun Owner" made me shake my head. Basically the author decided he needed a gun following the somewhat chaotic (and unnecessary) evacuation of Houston for Hurricane Rita during which nothing happened to him but some nasty traffic. But the "experience" made him feel like he needed a gun. Jesus, I'm glad this guy didn't live in DC in the 80s and early 90s -- he would have bought a tank. This was followed by a piece by Walter Kirn in the New Republic in much the same tone -- a man needs guns to face danger and believe me I've faced danger so shut up you liberals who don't understand things. Kirn once nursed a shotgun all night while a teenager, holed up in his family home while an escaped convict was on the loose. (No the ex-con did not show up at his house. No Kirn did not heroically save his family by blowing away the con. Nope -- nothing happened.) But then a number of years later a meth-addled fellow in Montana hissed that he was going top kill Kirn, who in turn showed him his concealed .22 and the tweaker ran away. Here's Kirn's version of events:
I also know the opposite feeling, of outmanning someone else, because I pulled a gun on a guy once. It happened outside of the building where I live in downtown Livingston, Montana, a town of 7,000 that I moved to from New York City 23 years ago, back when New York was still considered dangerous. I was in the cab of my Ford pickup after a trip to a mini-storage locker with my two children, who were nine and six. Right across the street was the Mint Bar, a cavernous old brick hideout for midday tipplers in front of which was standing a lean young man who'd glared at me with a manic, feral focus the moment I'd parked and opened the truck door. He seemed high, not just drunk, with that toxic aura of meth, and when our eyes met, he bared his teeth and hissed that he was going to kill me, that I was dead, shifting his weight toward the curb at the same time. Somehow my kids didn't hear him as they climbed out, nor did they see my reaction to his threat: I opened the glove compartment and removed a long-barreled .22 target pistol that was there by chance, as part of the move. Its rubber grip met my hand and melded with it in a smooth, reflexive motion. I held the gun across my belt line, displaying its silver profile as I turned. The scary young man was about ten yards away by then, but when he saw the gun, his body rocked backward as though in a cartoon. I watched his flushed face drain pale as he backed off, one shoe untied and dragging a long, loose lace. He vanished around the bar's corner, a full retreat that left me presiding over a total victory that no one, because the street was empty, had witnessed.
Wow. That's some high drama. I am sure but for the firearm, the unarmed meth head would have no doubt killed Kirn and his whole family with his bare hands.
These "scary" stories make me laugh a bit. I lived through years in DC where there was better than a murder a day -- I lived for a while two blocks from an open air drug market and a block from where a quadruple homicide occurred in 1989. I later lived in another neighborhood a few blocks from a crack house and where another murder occurred early in my residency. It just never occurred to me though that getting a gun was any answer to this sort of thing -- what was I going to do, carry it around loaded every day just waiting for menace to befall me? As it turns out, I was never victimized in any of the marginal places I've lived -- although I suppose in my posher surroundings I could always be surprised. The bottom line though is that one has to put fear into reasonable perspective and live life with a certain level of fatalism. (Like a man, I'm tempted to add but won't.) The truth is that "stranger" murders remain rare even in highly violent places. The overwhelming majority of killings here were due to the drug trade. That, and, of course, crimes of passion. The world is, generally speaking, not out to get you.
- Speaking of paranoia and stories that make clear that being extraordinarily proficient in firearms is no guarantee of safety, this story of the murder of former Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle is a chilling one. I would submit that if a weapon didn't make Chris Kyle safe, it isn't going to do much for anyone else's sorry ass. Seriously though -- take a few minutes to read the comments to this story, most of which center on the claim that Kyle was obviously killed by the Obama Administration for some nefarious reason. These are your fellow citizens, friends. (Especially you bbw. :-) )