Gun control starts in your own house
BY NEIL STEINBERG firstname.lastname@example.org December 16, 2012 9:40PM
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:17AM
Enough, people are saying, again, this time in the wake of Friday’s horrific school massacre in Connecticut.
We have to DO something.
Well yes, doing something would be nice. Though you have to pause a moment first to contemplate a belief system that requires 20 dead children before it snaps to attention.
Give credit to advocates of gun rights. They know what they believe. They believed it Thursday. They believe it today.
They put their money where their mouths are, their boots both on the ground and firmly on the necks of their representatives. They pull out their wallets and slap them on the table.
Give them our grudging respect. No need of a slaughter to stir them to action. In fact, slaughter doesn’t stir them at all, except to read aloud the script in their hand that says: “More guns.”
A few days before this happened, after the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals demanded that Illinois join the rest of the nation and craft a concealed carry law, I had an idea. My idea was: I gotta buy a gun. Not for protection — I live in Northbrook. I take Metra. The last time I felt myself physically threatened was . . . umm . . . never.
But as a columnist, I thought it would be interesting to carry a gun around. As a stunt. Buy the gun, take the course, conceal and carry. See what happens.
I floated this idea by my wife. Her eyes narrowed.
“Not in my house,” she said, severely. I explained what a sharp column it would be. Front-page stuff! It wouldn’t be forever; I could sell the gun back. She didn’t care a bleep what I had in mind: no gun. Period.
Because guns are dangerous.
To be honest, I felt thwarted. But I didn’t push — we had months to figure this out. Then Friday happened. Twenty children shot down. As horrifying as it was, our fellow Americans buffed the horror to a hallucinatory sheen. The shootings are an Obama conspiracy to push gun control! This illustrates the urgent need to end gun-free zones! If only those teachers were armed . . .
Shades of the offensive fantasy that — since I’m Jewish — gun nuts feel obligated to send to me, floating the notion that had only the Jews of Europe been armed before World War II then, golly, the Holocaust would never have happened.
Pretty to think so.
But the Polish Army was armed. The French Army was armed too. Didn’t help them much. Guns have their uses, but if they were the magic totems of protection that gun advocates seem to believe they are, then we’d all live in a very, very safe country.
And, obviously, we don’t.
There could have a been a police officers’ convention at the Sandy Hook School and those kids would still be dead. Police officers, if you haven’t noticed, are shot and killed too, despite their training, despite their guns.
No, actually I think my wife nailed it, as she often does. “Not in my house.” Is that not a manageable start? Before we talk about laws, before we fall to arguing over specifics, over magazine capacities and what makes an assault rifle, we need to address the panting American passion for weaponry and violence. Those zombies, you realize, are just a thin disguise to let you guiltlessly enjoy watching people shot.
Until we address that, we’ll do nothing — or, rather, continue doing nothing. The Connecticut killer got his guns from his mother, who owned them legally. And frankly I can’t imagine a nation where any change could be embraced that might prevent that. There are many disturbed people. They all have mothers. If the blame rests anywhere — leaving forever open the question of whether insanity affects our right to hold this killer accountable — it has to lay with mom. She wasn’t disturbed. She kept her guns — “for protection,” natch — in such a manner that her troubled son could get hold of them. If she didn’t know, who was supposed to know? If she couldn’t stop him, how was the United States government supposed to stop him?
I believe we have too many guns, yes. But I also believe that the National Rifle Association is a convenient bogeyman for lazy liberal consciences that need to see dozens of first-graders die before they rouse themselves, temporarily. Any one of a hundred Democratic plutocrats could match the NRA’s spending tomorrow, and it wouldn’t mean a thing. Not until we realize that most Americans don’t want stricter gun laws — they want them to be more lax, or stay the same. We think all those Clint Eastwood movies are true, and we stockpile all these guns to keep us safe. Only they don’t keep us safe. “Not in my house” — that’s a start, a small but important step, and you don’t need to hire lobbyists to make it work.