especially as it's currently interpreted—why in God's name should there be an individual right to bear arms, if a "well-regulated militia" was the point?), which in the past forty or so years has become sacrosanct to the gun owners of this nation, thanks in large part to the NRA. There's the estimate of 300 million guns in this country (or up to 600 million, as one gun site gleefully crows), owned by about a third of the population—which is itself just over 300 million, so do the math. There is the fact that there are too many of us, and we're very diverse, and some of us are pissed off about that (even though it's been happening for a couple hundred years now), and others are a little angry for other, perhaps more reasonable reasons (like being targeted for their race), and . . . I think the white gun owners just wish they were still in their isolated little valleys in the Alps or the Pennines or the Harz or the Dolomites or wherever, where they could shoot their evening meal and not be bothered by . . . discomfort, I guess. Resentment.
[10/5 addition to this post: A recent survey concludes that just 3 percent of gun owners in this country own a full half of the national arsenal. Which the study reckons amounts to seventeen guns apiece, on average. The survey also concludes that 78 percent of Americans do not own guns, and that there are "only" 265 million firearms in this country—the first number higher, the second lower, than other surveys have found. The number of handguns, intended for self-defense, has risen, with "fear" being a big reason. The study is based on 4,000 responses.]
I don't own a gun, and I never will. I go out into the world (granted, my corner of California isn't too fraught, but there are shootings hereabouts not all that infrequently) without fear. All those beautiful people who went to the concert on Sunday in Las Vegas went without fear. And a gun, or even hundreds of guns, wouldn't have saved them.
Guns are made for killing. The bullcrap that "guns don't kill people, people do" is belied by Sunday's tragedy: a man in a room at the Mandalay with just a knife, or even twenty, couldn't have hurt, never mind killed, more than a few souls.
I am sick of the mass killings, and I feel so helpless against them. I honestly don't expect to see any progress made on this issue in my lifetime. More lives will be lost in mass shootings. Probably tomorrow, or next week. It is a tragedy for our society.
And on that note: here's the poem I promised. I'm sorry for the downer post. But dammit. This is real. (I intended to keep this short. Sorry, too, that I went on. But dammit.)
Okay. Take a breath (iiiiiiiiiiin . . . ooooouuuut). This poem is worth reading slowly.
The Gun Jokeby Jamaal May (originally published in the Indiana Review, 2013)
It’s funny, she says, how many people are shocked
by this shooting and the next and next and the next.
She doesn’t mean funny as in funny, but funny
as in blood soup tastes funny when you stir in soil.
Stop me if you haven’t heard this one:
A young man/old man/teenage boy walks into
an office/theater/daycare/club and empties
a magazine into a crowd of strangers/family/students.
Ever hear the one about the shotgun? What do you call it
when a shotgun tests a liquor store’s bulletproof glass?
What’s the difference between a teenager
with hands in the air and a paper target charging at a cop?
What do you call it when a man sets his own house on fire,
takes up a sniper position, and waits for firefighters?
Stop me if you haven’t heard this one:
The first man to pull a gun on me said it was only a joke,
but never so much as smiled. The second said
this is definitely not a joke, and then his laughter crackled
through me like electrostatic—funny how that works.
When she says it’s funny she means funny
as in crazy and crazy as in this shouldn’t happen.
This shouldn’t happen as in something is off. Funny as in
off—as in, ever since a small caliber bullet chipped his spine,
your small friend walks kinda’ funny and his smile is off.