I recently purchased my first gun. It’s a jim-dandy, replete with state-of-the-art laser sight and the ability to accurately pump eight 9mm bullets into the object of my derision within seconds. I keep telling myself that it’s for self-defense.
That’s at least a partial lie. The 10-year-old boy within me cannot seem to move past the fact that I now own a gun that looks and functions very much like the one that James Bond carries.
I’m not sorry that I bought the gun. On the other hand, I’m desperately sorry that I felt the need to.
This was not an impulse purchase. I had mulled it over for years. As of this writing, I have yet to fire or even load the thing. Oh, I’ll get around to it. I intend to become a marksman. Thus far, I’m still familiarizing myself with the feel of my sleek, seductive sidearm. I find it repellent.
You are, by now, aware of the massacre that took place in Colorado last Friday. Every pundit within range of a camera or a keyboard has weighed in on it. Opinions vary, but not by much — mine included.
The only thing more predictable than the massacre itself was the saturation coverage by the media and the re-emergence of the Great Gun Debate.
It always plays out in the same morbid fashion, doesn’t it? A deranged individual decides to arm himself to a ludicrously lethal degree, selects a venue and then sprays enough bullets to kill dozens of innocent people. Death rules the day. On the heels of this carnage comes a national outpouring of grief and outrage, followed by calls for more and better gun laws. The only things that change from incident-to-incident are the body count and the roll call.
So … will this be the event that finally triggers the reversal of our nation’s gun violence epidemic? Is stricter gun control in our future?
Not a chance. Lead, follow or get out of the way. I have grudgingly decided to join the parade.
The gun debate is over, you see, and advocates for tighter gun regulations have been thoroughly routed. I know – because I’m one of them.
Things were much different when I was younger. There were never any guns in our house. I wasn’t allowed to frequent houses that had them, either. This wasn’t a big deal, though, because almost no one we knew owned guns — except for the hunting kind.
The push for universal gun ownership grew out of the culture wars that erupted in the latter part of the last century. It seems to have much more to do with inchoate fear than any innate worship of firearms. The conservative movement has made us so afraid of “the other” that a unilateral call to arms became inevitable. The outrageously empowered NRA has spent decades successfully lobbying to eliminate gun laws all over the country by greasing the palms of politicians and waving the Second Amendment like a battle-flag. They managed to frame the debate in such a way that opposition to unfettered, unregulated gunfire appeared to be downright un-American. I’m still not quite sure how they did that.
There is now at least one gun for every man, woman and child in America. The results are staggering. Americans are 40 times more likely to die from gunfire than Canadians or Europeans.
To put it more bluntly, if America had the same rate of death by gunfire as Great Britain; just since 2001, more than 100,000 people would be alive today that were shot dead.
But like I said, the debate is over. Guns are not perishable. They are loosed upon the land and will remain among us for centuries, even if their dispersal were somehow abrogated tomorrow.
Please don’t demonstrate your patriotism by brandishing the Second Amendment at me. While its wording does support gun ownership, no “right” to dispense death is completely unqualified.
The argument can be made that we need guns to defend ourselves from citizens like the Perquimans County man who was recently sentenced to 30 years for shooting up people’s houses. It’s a good argument. I can’t knock it down. If threatened, I now have the capability to respond with deadly force. So why don’t I feel more comforted?
I have no sense that my purchase has made the world a safer place. I have, in fact, experienced a profound sense of loss over it — although I’m not quite sure of what. Innocence, maybe? I’m a tad old for that. I do feel more secure within my own walls.
But that’s a hell of a trade-off, isn’t it?
Bud Wright is an author and resident of Pasquotank County