I know and have known people who I believe are absolutely responsible in their approach to life. I know gun owners, too. Many. Now, I’m just talking about perception here – how a gun NON-owner perceives gun owners when those gun owners use the word “responsible” to describe themselves. I’m certain my gun-owning friends believe to a dead certainty that when it comes to their guns? They epitomize “responsibility”. But, if my gun-owning friends tell me that they can assert with one hundred percent certainty that an accident could never – as in ” N E V E R ” happen to them and their gun? Sorry, but you just gave yourself away. Either you’re “mis-stating the truth” (to be kind) or you’re oblivious of if. Pick your poison. That gun in your hands? The one you’re so “responsible” with? To the rest of us – that IS poison.
At the very least, it’s death. But then, that IS what every gun is. By design. Guns were imagined as a way to send a metal projectile hurtling through the air at a living target. That idea was so good, it replaced the bow and arrow in the human arsenal. Clever humans, ever since, have found ways to make that projectile even more lethal and the firepower that sends it hurtling can now send multiple projectiles flying that shred living tissue as they blow through it. If you’re sending a projectile of any kind hurtling at another living thing? You mean to kill it. You really can’t say you mean to “wound”. I mean, you could, but, that’s not a very responsible way to think about the death machine in your hands.
Maybe our problem is language. The word “gun” doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Guns can be “props” or “toys”. And “gun” covers so much territory. It can be a “Saturday night special” or an AK47. In fact, the word “gun” has become downright harmless. It’s not like you can “gun” anyone. You can gun your engine, of course. But good luck to you if you shoot your engine instead. I wonder – would our national “gun debate” be different if instead of the word “gun” we used “death machine” instead? Would my gun-owning friends – I’m sorry, my “death machine”-owning friends – insist they were “responsible death machine owners”? I doubt it. It sounds kind of incongruous.
That’s because it is.
Again – I’m talking about perception here and not the fact that up until now any particular death machine owner has “dodged the bullet” and not had an accident or a tragedy with their death machine. As we’ve established, no death machine owner can say with one hundred percent certainty that an accident or tragedy WON’T happen with their death machine so – in fact, all any death machine owner can really say is that they will TRY to be a “responsible death machine owner” but – because they’re human – accidents can happen. And – true fact – death machines weren’t designed to sit in gun safes. It’s good that gun owners do that, but while the gun sits in its safe, it’s NOT doing the thing you bought it to do.
Do gun owners buy guns so that they can sit in gun safes? No, they don’t. But it is A “responsible” thing to do. That’s from the point of view of any eventual accident or tragedy. It was responsible. But, then the circumstances removed the gun from the safe and the gun owner him or herself became the sole arbiter of “responsible” but failed. Fortunately for gun non-owners, MOST of the time, MOST gun owners don’t let the rest of us down.
Except when they do…
And then people die. Unarmed people. People who did not deserve to die because some gun owner screwed up being responsible. WHO are the “irresponsible ” gun owners? Would you all please, please, PLEASE point yourselves out so that the rest of us can plan ahead and react accordingly? No? Oh, right – you all, staring back at me, you’re the “responsible ones” to whom accidents never happen. And, while we’re on the subject, 23,000 Americans die by gun suicide every year. There are plenty of ways to try and off yourself (I speak from experience). A gun makes it way easier to do and far, far harder to reconsider in the moments after.
If my “gun owning friends” were honest with themselves (which would allow them to be honest with the rest of us), they would have to agree that the above is absolutely true. Gun non-owners must take it as an article of faith that gun owners are indeed “responsible”. It does us no good when a formerly responsible gun owner bewails the fates because something unexpected happened to or with their gun.
Think of how much MORE unexpected it was from the gun NON-owners point of view. Trust me, gun owners, we NEVER saw your accident coming. That’s our tragedy.
Again. We’re talking perceptions here. How we the victims of gun violence perceive it and we perceive you, the cause of the violence.
I think often these days – with school shootings continuing unabated – about Nancy Lanza. Remember her? Nancy Lanza was Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza’s mom. Nancy Lanza would have insisted until the moment her son SHOT HER with one of her own legally purchased, (up till then) responsibly owned firearms. that SHE was a “responsible gun owner”. And, ya know? Maybe she was?
In the end, she wasn’t. That’s all that matters.