Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Guns. Some people love them. Some people hate them. Some people, like me, don't understand what the big deal one way or the other is about guns. I googled "Gun Blogs" and was rewarded with 12.5 million hits almost instantly. I googled "Anti-Gun Blogs" and 5.5 million possibilities turned up. That makes 18 million google hits with guns as the focal point. 18 million! It boggles my mind. This much interest and pantie bunching over a weapon that is accountable for a minor number of deaths each year in the over all numbers of people dying. This much interest in foisting the idea that guns will somehow ensure our safety. Folks, Life is a crap shoot. When your time is up, your time is up. I don't think owning a gun will change that. Just as I do not think banning them will somehow make us safer either. Evil people will do evil things with or without a gun.
I might ask if anyone out there has had a gun stuffed in their face, their gut, or just pointed in their general direction? I have. Twice in my life gun barrels have been held tight against my body. I have also been in situations where guns were brandished but not used. While it is happening I had no fear or response other than anger. Once it was over and I had a chance to think about what just went down, then it was piss my pants time.
My first close encounter was an upstairs neighbor when I was in college. He had gotten drunk and was threatening his live in girlfriend and himself with bodily harm. She came downstairs in a panic. Being drunk also and therefore dumber than dirt, I wandered upstairs to calm him down so the cops would not haul him away again. He answered the door and stuck his automatic something or other just under my ear. I remember hearing the hammer click back. I defused the situation by getting angry. I told him he was a wuss if he needed a gun to handle me being that I was 6" shorter and 30 pounds lighter. If he had a problem with me, then let's go outside. He agreed. We went outside. Since he was drunker than I was, I kicked his ass. And the next day he apologized and thanked me for not calling the cops.
My second time with a barrel shoved in my body was in NYC while delivering Burger King Buns out of the back of a trailer at 2 or 3 in the morning. I had a two wheeler piled as high as I could reach with bun boxes and was wheeling them up to the back door. Suddenly a voice behind me told me to give him all my money and to not turn around. A sharp punch in the kidney indicated he had a weapon. Again, I got angry. I tipped up the two wheeler full of buns and turned around. It was indeed a gun. I reached in my pocket and pulled out my wallet. He took it, looked in, took the $20 bill, and threw the wallet on the ground. All he said, "Cheap ass truck drivers" and he left.
My point being, having a gun would not have helped me in these encounters. One was because I chose to get involved. Two drunks with guns has to be more than twice as bad than just two people with guns. The other situation was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both encounters would have possibly gone way wrong way quickly had I brandished a gun also.
And before anyone decides that well, Crum has had no one near and dear die from a gunshot, well, that has happened also. A very good friend, Andre, was killed with a bullet to the head during a drug deal gone bad. A friend's father and mother were shot while on vacation in Florida during a robbery. My friend's father did not make it. A very close old college friend's father was shot and killed in a liquor store hold up. The interesting part of this murder was it was a shoot out. Had my friend's father just given up the money, he might still be alive. But he pulled a weapon also. And he lost. I have been touched by the pain of death by gunshots.
Yes, a gunshot is irrevocable and can turn an otherwise heated incident into a serious tragedy in an instant of anger gone too far. But in the scheme of all the ways we find to die, it seems we spend an inordinate amount of time on the gun deaths that are blips on the chart of deaths. Of course I am referring to deaths associated with living in a normally functioning society and not one in a state of war or serious cultural and political upheaval.
In 2005 (the most recent year I could find stats on) 29,684 people died of gunshot wounds. Of that number, 12,352 were ruled homicides, 17,002 were ruled suicides, and the rest were broken down into unintentional, death by cop, etc. 12,352 people died of gunshot wounds that were committed in violence. That same year over 1.2 million people died in this country. The biggest killer, heart disease. Can we think about perspective here?
So of the 12,352 violent gun deaths, the disturbing fact was that almost half, 6,067 fatalities, were black males. Their death rate per 100,000 is more than 8 times higher than the population as a whole. I had heard something to the effect that the number one cause of death for black males under a certain age was by gunshot. But until I dug up this fact from the CDC site, I really did not appreciate just how localized most violent gun deaths were. Of course this does not change my over all attitude about guns, but it certainly gives me something new to chew on. Maybe in another post.
The bottom line is this for me. A gun does not symbolize anything to me. It neither reinforces my notion of what America is about, nor does it protect my rights under the law. But if owning a gun makes someone else feel more American, then hey, whatever floats your boat. Guns do not scare me either. The people who wield them do. And I would guess that those same people would make me nervous with a paring knife in their hand. It is not the gun we should be afraid of but the mental midget holding it.
Not sure why I even began this post. I caught some references and links from Dana's blog and well, this is how it turned out. Over all I would say this post did not end up as I envisioned when I began it. Oh well. Maybe it will spark a lively comment section.
Keep it 'Tween the Ditches...............