Dennis O’Neil: The Elephant in the Punch Bowl
Look, I know that your guns are important to you: more important than Emmy’s knitting is to her, more important than the twins’ comic book collection is to them, maybe more important than Gran’s daily mass and communion is to her.
For openers, there’s your collection, the best in town. From the nifty little .22 derringer to the awesome AK47, it’s a display of firearms you’re justly proud of. And yes, I remember sitting in your living room, cocking and dry-firing your Colt Peacemaker. Sure, guns fascinate me. I’m an American male.
But the collection is only the beginning. Guns provide a focus for your energy and enthusiasm. They give you a social life, too. I’ve seen you at the gun shows, kidding around with your pals, sharing information and opinions with them. They’re your tribe and you’re happy to have a tribe and to be part of this one. And guns give you an area of expertise – something most of us want. You stand holding the Glock in both hands and empty it downrange and the target you’re shooting at is shredded. You smile. You’re a damn good shot and you know it.
I wonder if fear isn’t part of your devotion to weapons. Some where along the line, you realized that the world is dangerous and unpredictable and having the capability to end an enemy’s life with a half-pound of pressure on a trigger give you a feeling of security.
Let us not forget your patriotism. When the “liberals” – a word you expel from your mouth like it has a bad taste – criticize guns and gun owners, you cite the Second Amendment and when the liberals suggest that our founding fathers meant for state militias to be armed and said nothing about ordinary Joes, you shrug.
Even if the founding fathers hadn’t limited their recommendation to military organizations, they lived and wrote about 236 years ago. Do you still ride to work on a horse?
I’ll ask one more question – a snide question, I admit: if you’re so star-spangled patriotic, why have you never worn a uniform? You’re strong and healthy and intelligent and, let us remember, a fine marksman; the Army would have welcomed you. Okay, like I said: snide. I have no right to judge you, or anyone else.
So instead of judging you, let me plead with you to be enormously brave. Admit that you’ve been ignoring the elephant in the punch bowl, that guns may bear some responsibility for the barbaric slaughter of innocents we are continuously witnessing. Heed facts and ignore slogans. Find the courage to abandon important elements of your life so a greater good can exist. Admit that you might be wrong.
Whenever there’s an Aurora or Virginia Tech or Gabby Gifford, the pro-gun pundits say that now is not the time to discuss gun control, let’s wait until emotions cool. Then time passes and other matters claim the national attention, and eventually, there is more cause for mourning.
At least start asking the questions. Last week, 20 school children were shot to death.
THURSDAY: Martha Thomases