Wow, 2 posts in such a short time? We should have a huge emotional upheaval every weekend.
Last week I was filled with rage over protest that has almost zero impact on me personally. I’m white, not traditionally patriotic, progressive, and I don’t even like professional sports. And yet I spent an entire day trying to get out the fury that flared up like a bad case of indigestion. I sequestered myself in the kitchen for hours and still ended up spending a late even pouring out all the bitter bile that had accumulated just so that I could sleep.
The last few days, what with there being a significantly more horrific event and flare-up of biased political arguments, you’d think the anger would be back with a vengeance.
I wish it was. Honestly, I do. Because anger, rage, hatred, all these things fill me with power, passion, and purpose, like a true Sith. Dark, depressive sadness just makes me numb and helpless.
It didn’t become long before this became a “thoughts and prayers” event. I do hope that everyone who is posting about thoughts and prayers is actually sending them and not just checking some easy task off to assuage their guilt at doing absolutely nothing else. I hope that those praying for the lost, the survivors, and the families are doing so in earnest. I hope it isn’t just a meme to be shared and forgotten once a new inspirational quote strikes your fancy.
I have seen a few different “causes” for this incident. Obviously, the snowflakes are calling for more gun control, because that’s the obvious response to a gun-made massacre. The response, in case you were wondering, sounds like this:
HOLY F*CKING CHR*ST, HOW DOES ONE MAN OWN 42 GUNS AND MASSACRE 59 PEOPLE LIKE HE’S IN A G*DDAMN STALLONE MOVIE?!? HOW THE F*CK DOES THIS HAPPEN? WHY THE F*CK DO WE KEEP LETTING THIS HAPPEN? F*CK GUNS.
Sorry. That’s kind of how it feels. Followed by:
WHY IS NO ONE LISTENING? HOW CAN WE LOOK AT THE STATISTICS AND STILL PANDER TO GUN LOBBYISTS AND THE NRA?
Have I mentioned lately that I’m a veteran? I suppose you might think I grew up in the kind of household that encourages that kind of career choice. I do have an uncle who joined the service during Vietnam (to avoid the Draft, partly). However, my mother had an extreme distaste for guns. Like, not just “No Fake Guns that look like Real Guns” type of mentality. Zero toy guns. No Nerf guns. No squirt guns. Nothing. Guns were not toys in my childhood, despite having 3 brothers. Also no candy cigarettes, but that’s because my mom knows exactly why such things exist and she wasn’t having it.
My folks spent their formative years in the 60s, in the middle of the first major American conflict filmed in color. Imagine that. She was not exactly pleased when I was lured in by a recruiter with the bait of college money. She never said anything to discourage me, but when I think of how she raised me to believe in non-violence and the sanctity of human life, I can’t but wonder at how blind I was to how much of a betrayal a military career might have felt to her. I mean, not a year before, I had professed that I certainly wouldn’t join an organization that brought about human death, even if I was not the one pulling the trigger. Turns out teenage me is a hypocrite with beliefs built on the sturdy foundation of butter sitting out on the counter.
Even walking around Iraq with a M-4 on my back, I still didn’t believe that if the situation arose I would be capable of purposely taking a human life. This may or may not surprise my Battle Buddies. I was grateful to be the driver of my group because it meant that I wasn’t expected to shoot anyone. I was expected to get us the eff out of a bad situation. So what was my plan if I did end up in a situation that required some “action” on my part? Protect my friends. I couldn’t justify taking a life for the sake of my own, but I just easily accept taking a life to protect my people. Because they were, and still are, my people.
I still don’t like guns. I don’t actually understand the sentiment. It’s like liking pencils. They’re tools. Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I never enjoyed firing weapons. I wasn’t bad at it, as long as my sights got zeroed properly and/or I had all the parts for the laser sight I got on deployment (that’s a fun story). I mean, we all have days where we zero in 9 and then get 11/40 on the first firing order, right? Or the time I had to explain to a MSG that he was firing at my target. Three times. Or the first time I had to do the prone-supported position outside of a foxhole and found out that my ammo pouches made me feel like an effing see-saw. Or how my BQ ended up going to the CQM range 3 times in Kuwait in 140 degree heat. Got to see a lot of brass burns during that particular exercise. Or when they added the kneeling position and we kind of had to figure it out because they didn’t send anyone to actually teach anyone the proper form. Or the time we set the mountain on fire with tracer rounds at the 50-Cal range. Or how I couldn’t even charge the 50-Cal. Or the Mk-19. Did I mention the Mk-19 range where we were delayed for 2 hours because some scientists were talking to endangered birds behind the range? We saw whales that day. It was the first time I wore a flak jacket. I didn’t even have the plates in and I felt like I couldn’t breath. Which is funny because by the end of deployment I felt naked when I wore the vest without the plates on the way home.
Apparently, there is a type of person who gets off on firing weapons. There was a lot of boner talk at the 50-Cal range. All you do is get behind the rifle and push down a butterfly button with your thumb. Oh, yeah. That’s hot. Granted, you do the same thing with a Mk-19, but it’s shooting grenades so the boom is a tad more thrilling. Still.
Why is it a fun activity to go to a firing range? The women’s group at my church in Alabama used to do that. I just don’t get it. Going to the range was always a hassle. It took all day, the weather was always horrendous, and a lot of it was just sitting around waiting for your turn. And there were days where you were spot on and days you couldn’t hit the side of a barn. You didn’t even get the same weapon every time, so it’s not like you built up a report with the thing. And afterwards, you have to clean the weapon. Sometimes for hours depending on how effing detail-oriented the armorer was. I didn’t even go to the range with my Reserve unit, but everyone was cleaning weapons so I had to. And when I finished in 30 mins, I got a dirty look from an E-7 because everyone else was still cleaning theirs so why was I just sitting around? I cleaned 4 weapons that day. I’ll admit that the task can be very therapeutic for someone like me. It’s still galling to have to do it when you didn’t even fire that day.
So no, I don’t like guns. [Note on terminology: I have never fired a “gun.” At Basic, it was explained that we dealt in “weapons.” Guns were for civilians. There was extremely strict protocols for dealing with weapons. They were either pointed at the ground, in the air, or up-and-downrange, never at a person. They were to be treated at all times as if they were live. And pointing even an unloaded weapon at a DS was the only grounds on which said DS was allowed to lay a hand on you. That hand would be fist-shaped and aimed at your head.] Just as I don’t like cars or computers or phones or power tools. I use or have used all of those things and they are pretty essential to my daily life in some cases. But liking them doesn’t make any sense.
I personally don’t understand wanting a gun. I have a lot of very handy knives which will chop onions quite fine as well as hamstring a midnight burglar. I guess I’ve always been a bit more hands on with my weapons, personally. I don’t carry a pocket knife around anymore, but that’s mostly because I had to keep throwing them out at very tall points of interest. I certainly prefer knives in a Zompac situation, if only because guns make a lot of noise and run out of ammo as soon as you’re cornered by all the zombies you attracted with all that noise. Also, I don’t hunt. I think if I ever took up the hobby I would prefer bow-hunting to a rifle, but I’m a romantic.
Owning a hunting rifle makes sense, especially if you hunt (obviously). Just like I crochet and therefore have quite a selection of crochet hooks. Owning a hand gun, well, I have a bit of a problem with that. It is a weapon specifically designed to kill people. They aren’t good for much else. You could, I suppose, say the same thing for things like M-16s and AK-47s and M60s and M249s. But those are specifically designed for warzones. Yes, they are supposed to kill people. They’re also supposed to kill cars, trucks, and even tanks in some cases. They are not ideal for popping the intruder in the middle of the night. I know my husband wants a gun at some point. He also wants a safe to keep it in because he’s not especially dumb. He respects the danger and power of weapons, just like I do.
Now, I’ve heard a few interesting things over the last few days. There has been a great deal of the typical “more gun control vs. you can pry my gun from my cold, dead hands” argument. Lots of statistics showing how the US is obliterating the rest of the world in the “Who can kill more of its own people with guns” game. People fairly pointing out that it’s really gun-related suicides that give us the edge in that particular game (unless we’re just counting the sheer number of mass shootings in the US compared to other nations). People also pointing out that a person bent on evil will commit it, whether it is with guns modified with kits or pipe bombs or knives or anthrax. And, of course, pointing out that none of the restrictions anti-gun people want put in place would have stopped what happened in Vegas. I’ve also seen that it is the Godlessness of this country that leads to such atrocities. That I cannot comment on.
There is also utter bewilderment. Here’s a guy who didn’t fit anyone’s profile. Not a white male in his 20s. Not a turban-wearing jihadist. Not a hyped-up black druggie. There is nothing about this guy that screams psycho-mass-murderer exact the extreme collection of guns. And having guns is just the American way, right?
Ah, here’s the rage. See, the 2nd Amendment gives you the right to own a weapon. That’s it. Now, we can argue the intent of the Founders all we want. It doesn’t matter what they meant, especially when gun sales spike after every mass shooting and that’s just good effing business. The propaganda being plugged directly into your brain is that it’s your right and no one can take it away from you. And that is exactly correct, believe it or not. It doesn’t matter that the Founders couldn’t possibly imagine the destructive power a single semi-automatic weapon could have on a crowd of unsuspecting civilians. It matters even less that the Founders were laying the foundation to never need a standing army because if everyone can have a gun, then everyone can be the army (militia ringing any bells?) at need. Well, we have a standing army which is a huge suck on the budget every year because of bureaucracy and inefficiency and clinging to obsolete weaponry because it’s historic or tradition or whatever. We also have the set-in-the-bones believe that guns = personal defense. Taking away your guns is just the government’s way to keep you docile. Or it will just make an easier job for criminals because criminals don’t get guns legally anyway, right? Granted, taking your guns away might also prevent you from being shot dead by your toddler or keep your depressed teenager from blowing his brains out or keep you from accidentally shooting someone because you have no respect for guns. Because they are toys and it is your right to have one, neener neener.
By the way, when people bring up the extremely harsh anti-gun regulations employed in Australia after their mass shooting in 1996 (and how it was the last they’ve seen), nobody says anything about how the government “took” anyone’s guns. They didn’t. It was entirely voluntary. You turn in your gun and the government paid you for it. That won’t work here because the government gets a lot of money from gun companies and they certainly aren’t going to turn around and spend that money buying back guns from hard working citizens in order to destroy them. That’s just not how it works in this country.
The government CAN’T take your stupid guns. It won’t even try. It would rather take a moment of silence for 26 elementary school kids than even consider trying to take your guns. So rest easy on that score.
There isn’t a solution for this problem. At least, not an American solution. We don’t respect guns because they’re toys and proof of manhood and essential for personal protection. They’re a right that we take advantage of forgetting why it’s a right, just like we forget why church and state are separated. And how freedom of religion and speech and press is there to protect you from legal government persecution, which is why there was such an extreme response to a high-ranking government official implying that a civilian organization should persecute protesters. Government officials don’t get freedom of speech.
Before I leave you, I thought I’d provide another list of people who can STFU about this issue:
People who own guns but have never been trained in the proper use of them.
People who profit from the sale of guns.
People who state that victims “deserved it.” Period.
Idiots who think that if only they’d had their gun, all of this could have been averted. No. One shooter is bad enough. Two shooters only ever compound a situation.
People who say you don’t need a gun or whatever. You don’t decide what people need.
People who think that this is an easy fix. If only we just did this, we would never have this problem again. Don’t underestimate the depth of evil human beings are capable of achieving.
People who think the problem isn’t guns so we should just do nothing. The problem isn’t just guns. There is much we should be doing. Maybe not having a cult of gun ownership and comprehensive care programs set up for the mentally ill? Just to start?
I made pumpkin oatmeal cookies today. Half the batch got butterscotch chips. The other half got chopped up candied ginger. If you want some, you know where I live.