“See that guy over there?” a friend said, pointing to a nondescript young man on the other side of the bar, shooting pool, sipping PBR. “He’s a bad-ass dude. You’ve got to stay away from him. He’s dangerous.”
This friend was a Mennonite who’d recently left the faith and Sowesto for the southern States. He’d driven my late husband Hugh and I to the bar in his pick-up truck, in which there was a gun-rack on display in the back. This was the early 80s and, despite being in my 20s I guess I still felt like an indestructible teenager because I wasn’t that worried about our friend’s guns. Both Hugh and I did raise our eyebrows later, though, when chatting to the nondescript young PBR sipper.
“See that guy over there?” he said, pointing across the bar to our friend. “He’s a bad-ass dude. You’ve got to stay away from him, man. He’s dangerous.”
Hmmm. So, you’ve got paranoid young men exercising their “right to bear arms”. That’s what seems dangerous.
According to the almighty and powerful NRA, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” And so, consequently, NRA member Clayton Brumby, who recently accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old son, Stephen, at a Florida gun range, takes full responsibility. “The gun didn’t kill my boy. I did. Every round in the gun is your responsibility.” A hot shell casing had been ejected from Brumby’s gun into his shirt, he used his right hand, which also held his handgun, to try to remove it and the gun went off, hitting the ceiling then rebounding to hit his son.
It’s a sad story. Because Brumby is a gun enthusiast, he was trying to do the right thing: make his children aware of guns, comfortable around them. I would submit, though, that Clayton Brumby’s child would still be alive if target shooting wasn’t a regular part of the Brumby family routine. From that perspective it does seem like the gun killed young Stephen, who apparently was quite the sharp-shooter, so I guess it was an activity he enjoyed.
As per a 2013 Washington Post study, it’s estimated that there are more guns – 357 million – than people – 317 million – in the U.S. Wow. That’s a lot of protection from bad-ass dudes, isn’t it?
According to massshootingtracker.org there have been 228 mass shootings – that’s an incident involving guns and injury or death to four or more people – as of July 7th this year in the U.S., which is more than the number of days so far. Face it. It’s sickeningly commonplace and no one seems able to implement a solution.
Other countries have. Australia, for instance. Says The Guardian, “After the 1996 Port Arthur massacre (35 killed, 23 wounded), rapid-fire long guns were banned in Australia; a year later there was a mandatory buyback of prohibited firearms. In 2003, a handgun buyback program was introduced. Australia has had no fatal mass shootings since 1996.” And guess what else? A “landmark study shows accelerated reduction in rates of suicide and homicide deaths caused by firearms.”
That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? A proven solution to a giant problem that causes so much grief.
I know. In the U.S., that’s a lot of guns to buy back, but you gotta try something, don’t you? To stop the insanity?
According to an article on globalnews.ca after the 2015 shooting in San Bernadino, California, “You’re more likely to be shot to death in the United States than you are to die in a car accident in Canada.” I’m sure that statistic will make my husband B happy he left Iowa for Ontario!
On another early 80s road trip, Hugh and I camped in our van along the coast of California. We befriended a man with a couple of small boys and spent the day hanging out with them, then pooled some food to cook up supper. When we walked down through the dunes later, the man’s paranoia left me feeling not so indestructible. Later that night we awoke to gunshots and realized that the man we’d befriended, who’d been drinking heavily by the way, was yelling mumbo-jumbo and randomly firing off a gun. We called the authorities and he was subdued without incident, but had someone been injured or killed? One of his kids, say? Would it have been his drunken fault? Or the fact that his drunken self had a gun?
Website photo is of my granddaughter Simone exercising her right to shoot off cold water on a blistering hot summer day.