Freedom Has NEVER Been “Free”; It ALWAYS Comes With Responsibilities

“Freedom”, like “liberty”, is one of those words everyone thinks they understand. If I’m free, I get to do whatever I want. Anyone who tries to restrict my “liberties” is restricting my civil rights!

Horse shit. Horse shit on steroids.

Most Republicans have a 5 year old’s understanding of freedom. They think freedom means “you’re not the boss of me”. But then, plenty of Republicans believe THEY are rugged individuals, conquering heroes of the free market there to make themselves rich at everyone else’s expense. They believe they should be free to pollute to their heart’s content, own every weapon imaginable — which they can carry in public so as to intimidate everyone else. They believe their freedom is more important than your freedom — whatever you think your freedom is.

That — right there — is the problem.

“Freedom” on a personal level is more “self indulgence” than “freedom”. A person who thinks their freedom includes infecting me with their coronavirus conflicts with my freedom. My freedom, you see, doesn’t work that way. Which of our two freedoms gets to dominate here? They can’t co-exist.

That’s where the group’s freedom comes in. The group — American society — also is “free”. But our collective individual freedoms have to live together. If two freedoms can’t exist together then both have to compromise or cease to be considered “freedoms”. How can freedom benefit one person while harming another? Thinking that THAT is “freedom” is exactly what got us into this mess.

America pays lots of lip service to “freedom”. But we don’t know what it is. Perhaps if we educated our young people in exactly how our government works, we could fix that. The most basic freedom we need to teach future citizens is the importance of voting itself as the foundation for freedom. Voting — and the politics that result — are how we negotiate our freedoms — balancing my needs against your needs and our needs against the larger public’s needs.

The simple fact is, there’s no such thing as “complete freedom”. Want that? Go live by yourself on an island. You’ll soon begin to experience freedom’s practical imitations. You by yourself aren’t free. It’s like keeping a gun in a gun locker. Sure, it’s “safe” there — but the gun wasn’t designed to sit in a gun locker — it was designed (from the ground up) to send a hot piece of metal flying at great speed into a live target, killing it. “Responsible gun ownership” isn’t what happens when the gun’s not being used. A bad idea is just a bad idea until somebody tries to “do it”. Then it becomes something else entirely. Freedom isn’t what you do on your own, it’s how you interact with others: what are we free to do as individuals in a society and as that society?

If you don’t show up to vote even, you haven’t exercised your most basic freedom. If you’ve “chosen” not to vote, you’ve in essence voted to shrug off your freedom. What other people choose to do with their freedom is how you’ll deal with yours. That’s their freedom in play, not yours which means they’re free and you’re not. You’re just pretending to be free.

Like a child.

Freedom and democracy are way harder than they look. But — if we can manage the responsibilities and obligations, the self-government is superior to any other form of government. People, in general, are far happier living in democracies. They’re way more productive. Imagine how much happier more Americans would be — how much more productive we’d all be — if only we’d get better at being “free”.

If You Arm People As Part Of Their Job, You’re Inviting Them To Shoot People

I’ve spent the bulk of my career in show biz. I’ve run TV shows. Written & produced feature films. I’ve cast thousands of actors.

After hiring them, I wardrobed those actors.

It’s amazing what happens when an actor goes into their trailer, takes off their street clothes and dons the outer layer of a person sorta like them but not them. They change. If the wardrobe is unlike their street clothes? They change even more.

When you outfit a person for their work in a uniform, something changes inside that person when that uniform goes on. You belong to something bigger than yourself. Even if you’re working at McDonald’s and you hate it — the uniform changes you. At the very least, it tames your rebellious streak. You’re still there working, wearing the uniform.

Now add a gun to the uniform. Yeah, sure, we’ve “trained” this uniform-wearer into “best practices” for using that gun but let’s be real: a gun is a death machine. It’s been designed from the ground up to send a piece of hot metal flying very fast into a live target, killing it. It’s not designed to sit in a holster (or gun safe). The holster (and gun safe) were designed around them. To put them somewhere when not being used.

A gun’s safety vs unsafety has to be measured against zero gun while the gun is in someone’s hand. No gun = zero chance anyone will get killed, maimed, wounded or disabled by the gun. Gun = yeah, all those things could happen. It’s a roll of the dice whether they do or not. And let’s be really, really real: “responsible gun ownership” is a myth gun owners (who want to be responsible) tell themselves.

Nancy Lanza — mother of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza — thought she was a “responsible gun owner” right up to the very moment her son blew her brains out with one of her guns. We know what he did afterwards. With those “responsibly owned guns”.

I’m not arguing second amendment yes or no. If we’d just abide by the amendment — the words AS WRITTEN say “gun control” (the militia gets to decide who gets to “keep and bear” — not own — those arms). I’m just saying guns are damned dangerous. I have receipts.

And if you put a dangerous object at the hip of even a very well-trained person (a “responsible gun owner” type), the dangerous object remains dangerous and unpredictable. Putting literal Live & Death into anyone’s hands invites them to play with Life & Death. Throw emotions into it and it’s hyper volatile. Consider how racist a lot of those emotions are — of course there’s a killing spree. We set everyone up for that exact failure.

But then, policing began as a racist endeavor in America. The first police forces evolved from slave patrols formed in the 1820’s. They’ve always been armed — and those arms were meant to kill, maim or cower.

Nothing has changed.

If, inside your head, you’re a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.

Rayshard Brooks died because two Atlanta cops woke him (he was asleep, drunk, in his car outside a Wendy’s) then, when he ran, shot him. They shot him because he’d grabbed one of their tasers. He fired it — over his shoulder — as he ran at them. Tasers, even police have routinely argued in court, are not deadly weapons.

The Atlanta police returned a non-deadly (and wildly fired) taser shot with deadly fire. Into Rayshard’s BACK.

If you hand a racist a gun, the gun will find its way into the racist’s hand at the worst possible moment. And the racist — justified by his wardrobe — will use that gun to splatter another sidewalk with his racism’s result: more death, most of it black or brown.

Why on earth would the people being subjected to such horrific violence want to keep PAYING for it through their tax dollars? Why on earthy would anyone disgusted by such behavior be forced to pay for it — when it’s not the “policing” we want.

We need to (metaphorically) defund how we think about policing. That will cause us to de-fund the myriad ways we’ve militarized policing. That, in turn, will finally turn policing away from its racist roots in America and toward something genuinely fair, community-based and entirely productive. There are civilized countries where police walk among the people they’re policing without guns at their hips.

It’s do-able. It’s being done.

That needs to be us now.

“Responsible Gun Ownership” Is A Myth

Let me burp up a cliche first: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I believe you, 99.99% of gun owners (I’m trying to be super generous here): you want to own and handle your firearm responsibly. The last thing on earth you want is an accident or a tragedy happening because of you and your gun.

But, you see, the problem is — you HAVE that gun in your possession. Your right to have it isn’t being questioned here (though, frankly, the Militia needs to step up and do its damned job regulating (as per the second amendment) who gets to “keep & bear” (not own — it does not say “own”) arms. We’re starting from the proposition that (as per the current mis-reading of the second amendment’s pretty simple, straightforward words) hell, you can have as many guns as ya like!

The basic fact about any gun is that it has been designed to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air at great speed into a living target so as to kill it. That’s why it’s such a great war tool – and hunting tool. It sends pieces of hot metal into living targets so as to kill them, see?

They are literal death machines. I’m not passing judgment when I write that. I’m simply staring a fact. This is a machine designed to cause internal damage to living things. You can fire a gun at a tree as much as you like. It wasn’t designed to do that. Hell, you want that tree dead? Get a saw. It’s more appropriate.

You want a human being dead? They tend to move around. Guns work better on them than saws.

When you purchase or take possession of a gun, you are assuming ownership of a death machine. Own that fact, gun owners. Don’t get emotional about it. Just own it. FFS — if ya can’t be responsible enough to own “what you own”, you’re probably not responsible enough to have a death machine in your hands.

Anyone can be “responsible” when the death machine is not in their hands — when the death machine is locked up in a safe. Except, the death machine wasn’t designed to sit, locked up in a safe. It was designed to be taken out and fired.

Take the gun out of the safe and fire it — THEN let’s talk about whether or not you were responsible, responsible gun owner.

Hey, to repeat, I absolutely believe that 99.99% of the time, you ARE acting “responsibly” with your death machine — no one died. Good for you! You “dodged a bullet” that time.

Remember Nancy Lanza? Adam Lanza’s mom? Nancy Lanza, everyone thought — Nancy especially — that she was a “responsible gun owner”. And, by every definition that we use (“responsible gun ownership” being a created thing that we get to define ourselves), Nancy Lanza WAS a “responsible gun owner”.

Until she wasn’t. Prior to December 14, 2012, none of Nancy Lanza’s guns — and she owned lots of them; she collected them, prized them, treasured them — had ever killed anyone. As far as we know, they had never even hurt anyone. Until the morning of December 14, 2012, Nancy Lanza was “a responsible gun owner”.

And then her son Adam — who grew up in this “responsible gun owner’s” home — learning “responsible gun owner” culture and values — took several of his mom’s weapons, killed her as she slept and then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where he — irresponsibly — murdered 26 people, most of them children.

“Responsible gun owner” until “not”. Nancy Lanza probably STILL doesn’t know how irresponsible a gun owner she was in reality.

That’s the bigger problem for those of us who DON’T own a gun — and don’t tell ourselves how responsible we are — we don’t know when the “responsible” gun owners will suddenly stop “being responsible”. We don’t know when they’ll fail — and neither do they, ya see.

We already have to live with the fact that there are PLENTY of “irresponsible” gun owners out there already — people who don’t care if, when, how, AT WHOM their guns are fired. We know we can be at the wrong place and wrong time at ANY time when our fellow citizens own firearms and suddenly decide to open fire at us without warning. Because they’re angry. Or broke. Or psychotic.

That’s why I avoid walking in dark places where irresponsible gun owners might lurk. I can’t do much about them hunting ME though. We can all relate to how animals feel when, suddenly, your day gets ruined by a human with a gun who — for some reason you can’t fathom — won’t be happy until you are dead.

Can’t do much about what I can’t anticipate. It’s the gun violence that can and does flare from the “responsible” gun owners that hurts most. That never has to happen. Those guns should never hurt or kill anyone. If those guns had stayed in their gun safes…

See what I’m saying?

The moment a gun owner took the gun into their hands — THAT’S when things got dicey. Children should never die because they found a hand gun in mommy’s handbag. People at the mercy of their own darkness should not have access to guns when therapy, love and perspective are their darkness’s enemy. A moment of intense (almost always male) rage shouldn’t find resolution by pulling a literal trigger.

We will never — ever — get rid of guns in America. That’s wishful thinking. Magical thinking even. The best we can hope for is actual “responsible” gun ownership.

That can’t begin though until “responsible gun owners” admit that there’s no such thing. They’re “gun owners” plain and simple. Whatever happens after that?

Nobody really knows.

A Thought Experiment: What If We “COULD” Sue Gun Manufacturers & The NRA?

Buy literally any other product in America and it causes harm — you can sue the product’s manufacturer because of the harm that product caused. The one exception is GUNS. For real.

You cannot sue a gun manufacturer because their gun hurt someone. Or even something (and we know how much gun-loving conservatives value property over people). Gun manufacturers got in tight with the NRA and then used the NRA to squeeze Congress into giving guns the freest pass in the universe.

Not only did gun manufacturers get a free pass legally, they bamboozled us into thinking the second amendment says the diametric opposite of what it actually says. They now insist that “well regulated milita” was a purposefully obscure reference to an obscure usage of those words that meant “well working gun of whatever size you want”. That’s not hyperbole. Look at the history. We started getting massively crazy the moment we let the NRA bullshit us about what the “framers really meant”.

How many dead gunshot victims lie atop THAT pile of lies?

You CAN’T sue a gun manufacturer. But what if you could? What if you could lay out the evidence to a jury how a gun is designed from the ground up to send a hot metal fragment flying through the air at a live target with the absolute intention of killing it. Guns are designed to kill. A gun that hasn’t killed something is a gun that has not done what it was designed to do.

Similarly — a gun locked in a gun safe is not doing what it was designed to do. It’s nice that, while in the safe, theoretically it can’t hurt anyone but — it just takes one moment’s distraction to change a responsible gun owner into the participant in yet another American gun tragedy. Adam Lanza shot up Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. But first, he shot his mother to death. Nancy Lanza was, by all accounts, A RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNER.

And then she wasn’t.

Responsible Gun Ownership is a myth.

Let’s add “Bullshitting the American Public With Fatal Consequences” to the law suit. Because that’s what the gun manufacturers and the NRA are truly guilty of — creating a monstrous lie that continues to kill us. Kill our children.

The NRA sold America a culture where men see guns as the most direct means of conflict resolution. Feeling really angry about something or someone? Get a gun and use it as a means to feel better.

That we have so many angry men — angry young men, too — speaks volumes about our culture. We’ve failed women horribly because we failed men. That is, we failed to rein men in. We failed to teach men that having a penis does not make you special — and penises don’t have the final say on where they go or what they do.

We’ve over-empowered penises in our culture. And now that men have to power share, they find their penises don’t know what to do. Confused penises are angry penises. And angry penises reach for a gun — because that’s what they’ve been taught to do. It’s not a coincidence that so much gun violence in America is men shooting their domestic partners, spouses, mothers or sisters.

Wow — this law suit’s getting massive. Gun manufacturers have sold us some pretty terrible things along with their guns.

If gun manufacturers could be held liable for what their guns do, they’d have done everything in their power to 1) make their guns as safe as possible, 2) as hard to abuse as possible (fingerprint access & palm ID), 3) much, much harder to get (cos who wants to get sued into bankruptcy by assholes?) and 4) share the cost of any potential damage costs by building their insurance into the cost of their guns.

The last part’s the kicker. If gun manufacturers built the cost of fixing what guns break into the cost of each gun? No one could afford to buy guns.

I guess THAT’S why you can’t sue gun manufacturers. Death merchants want to be free to continue selling us death.