THE SLAUGHTER ENDS WHEN N0-GUN WIMPS (LIKE ME) SAY: 'NO MORE!'
HOW DO WE STOP the gun madness?
By saying “enough” to guns and the people who own them.
We need to stop being so polite, so understanding, so deferential, so respectful of guns and people who are crazy about them.
I’m talking not just about folks with AR-15s who need them for their killing sprees at the mall, the synagogue, the Third Grade, the country music festival, the driveway, the home of a neighbor the gunman thinks is too noisy or the home of a neighbor who thinks the gunman is too noisy.
I mean everybody who has a gun of any sort for any reason: a small caliber squirrel gun; a shotgun for duck-hunting; a scoped rifle to kill Bambi in the name of better forestry management; the family heirloom musket over the fireplace or the just-in-case Smith & Wesson on the bedside table.
The killings will stop when the rest of us decide guns don’t belong in our homes.
I KNOW HOW RIDICULOUS this sounds.
Absurd and impractical. I know that.
There are too many guns and too many people who are devoted to guns to think they’ll simply go away – ever.
Guns are too deeply woven into our lives and our culture to believe that attitudes will suddenly change. Then there’s that Constitutional “right” to kill 48,830 people a year.
But change has happened to other things that kill us.
I’m thinking cigarettes.
At one time, smoking was a part of everyday life, and non-smokers were a huge part of the problem.
Non-smokers in the bad old days were extraordinarily conciliatory to the cigarette crowd, so understanding of their addiction, so accommodating to their habits, so respectful of their “rights.”
Hate the smoke; suffer the smokers.
Even in non-smoking homes, thoughtful hosts rushed for ashtrays that were always at the ready in case a visitor asked "Okay if I light up?"
Who wants a friend who's killing himself while putting your life in jeopardy?
Today, the only smokers you see now are in black-and-white movies.
Just 11 percent of adults smoke, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says, compared to 42 percent in the 1960s.
LET ME REPEAT: I understand what I’m saying is nuts.
Worse, I have absolutely no idea what specific steps will finally put guns on America’s cultural trash heap – just that someday, that’s where guns will end up.
It won’t happen overnight, and certainly not in my lifetime, although that's not saying much, since I’m 80.
It won’t happen with a sudden attack on the people who own guns, or with a “Shame On U” bumper sticker or with a pithy personal insight: “You are a despicable child-murder-in-waiting, you creepy monster gun nut."
Just as happened with cigarettes, guns will become so despised by so many people that almost anyone we know simply won’t want them.
But first, we have to identify the culprits.
I SUSPECT most of us feel that the problem with guns is the people who own guns. Which is true, sort of. But there's a problem, too, with the rest of us who have little or nothing to do with guns.
We are the “Un-Gunned.” And we're wimps, just like the Gunned people say we are.
We are afraid of hurting the feelings of, and eventually becoming estranged from, the people who own guns. Gun owners are our fathers, sisters, aunts, best friends, fellow gym rats, neighbors, worshipers in the next pew, electricians, uncles and our neurosurgeons.
We think we should be inclusive – especially in a democracy.
The other day, I was looking at the website of the Brady organization. That’s the outfit that works to stop gun violence and is named for the late Jim Brady, the press secretary who was severely wounded in 1981 when an assassin tried to kill President Ronald Reagan.
Here's what the group has to say about gun owners:
“Brady acknowledges the important role that responsible gun owners play in our communities. Gun owners are an essential part of preventing gun violence.”
That sounds so reasonable, so inclusive, so insightful, so coalition-building.
And it's so absolutely, completely and totally absurd.
Can you imagine the American Lung Association posting something similar:
“We acknowledge the important role that responsible smokers play in our communities. Smokers are an essential part of preventing cancer."
There is no such thing as a responsible smoker.
And no such thing as a responsible gun owner.
Want to stop the killing? Get rid of the guns.
How? Get gun owners to wish away their arsenals.
We can’t take their guns away.
But we can make owning a gun a terrible thing, a thing of shame, something that people just don't want to do.
LET US COUNT the obstacles.
It’s a cliché to say there are more guns in the United States than people.
A group called “American Gun Facts” puts the number of guns at 466 million; the population is 334 million.
This means that if you placed an AR-15 in every baby's crib; put a shotgun in every student’s backpack; stocked every maximum security cell with a Beretta; and made sure that that every nursing home complied with Medicare’s “packing heat” requirements, there would still be plenty of guns.
About 30 percent of U.S. adults owns at least one gun, according to the Pew Research Center; another 11 percent of people told Pew that while they don’t own a gun, someone else in their house does. About one-third of gun owners say they have at least least five.
For protection, which is Reason Number One.
I understand Reason Number One.
I’m a scaredy cat. I can imagine that if I was traumatized by crime, felt someone was out to get me or my family and knowing that the cops might not be around when it counts, I’d be first in line at Don's Good Guys' Guns Ammo and Camo Last Stop.
All of us are so stupid about guns.
BUT WE DON'T have to be stupid forever.
Take drunk driving.
When I was growing up, drunk driving was celebrated; it was the subject of epic tales of wild rides on hairpin mountain roads, unimaginable close-calls with the cops, near collisions with un-drunk drivers, heroic Odysseys limited only by the raconteurs' impaired recall.
Eventually, dead people’s mothers got MADD; and now drunk driving is not just against the law, it’s a cultural sin.
I mean people still do it; but no one defends drunk drivers unless they are paid to, and no one is proposing a Constitutional right to drive drunk.
ONE DAY, having a gun in the house will be considered just as dangerous as having a pack of cigarettes on the kitchen counter or an empty six-pack in the front seat.
Someday, lock-down drills to survive school shootings will be ancient history, just like duck-and-cover drills to survive nuclear war.
Someday it will be safer to go to school, go shopping, turn into the wrong driveway, ring the wrong doorbell, have an argument with your spouse or to ask a neighbor to lower the noise so the baby can sleep.
Someday, enough Americans will get angry enough about guns.
"Seriously. You own a gun?"
BRIAN C. JONES