Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spectre of the Gun

Spectre of the GunLike many of you, I have been dismayed and heartsick by what seems to be the cold-blooded murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. I won’t list the details here, but if you don’t know about it, please read this summary of the latest on Mother Jones. (Yes, I realize that Mother Jones is a liberal magazine; however, many of the statements made there and the general timeline of what has been happening is verifiable through other sources, including government records.)

This story is disturbing on multiple levels. First and foremost is that what by all accounts was a decent, loving young man is now denied the chance to make whatever he was going to make of his life. His parents have been denied his company, and that of his future family. It sounds like he was a good kid, and he is dead and gone. That is a tragedy, and anyone who thinks it isn’t is a pig.

Then there is the non-investigation of the shooter and the shooting; the patently obvious racism; Newt’s absurd criticism of President Obama for saying that if he had a son, his son would look like Trayvon (How is that causing racial division? It was a powerful statement, and it was also reaching out to the family. Shut up, Newt.); the incompetence and corruption of the Sanford Police Department; and Geraldo “What Are We Going To Find In This Vault” Rivera, who idiotically claimed that Mr. Martin’s hoodie was a contributing factor in his death. I guess Geraldo applies the same logic to rape victims and tells them that if they’d quit dressing like trollops, they wouldn’t get raped. That is such an offensive and lazy argument, a “blame the victim” mentality, and it’s high time that people stopped using it.

All these things are bothering me greatly, and others have written about them eloquently. What I am going to write about here is America’s strange and unreasoning love affair with the Gun. I’ve written about our strange obsession with guns before, in the wake of the shooting in Arizona that critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Gun suitApparently, those on neighborhood watch are told not to carry weapons or pursue what they decide are suspicious characters. George Zimmerman did both. He was exercising his right to carry a weapon, but can someone please explain to me when we are going to draw the fucking line at people packing heat? What is wrong with us that we have this bizarre cowboy vigilante mentality that we think it’s okay to confront people and shoot them dead? It’s like people have some sort of ridiculous confidence in their gun, that as long as they’re carrying one, they can do whatever they want, and they can just go all Harry Callahan on people and it’s perfectly okay.

It is NOT okay. A gun is not some sort of magical talisman that wards off evil...especially when you pursue the confrontation or provoke one. That is the true thug-like behavior in this tragedy, not Trayvon Martin’s behavior. Yet Martin is dead, and Zimmerman is free...and still free to carry his gun. That is fucked up.

In the short term, a grand jury has been convened to address this shooting. I am hopeful that justice will be done for Trayvon Martin and his family. In the long term, I am hopeful that President Obama, in his second term, will begin to address some of these insanely lax gun laws in our country. He has shown little to no interest in any sort of gun control (despite what those on the right say), but maybe it’s time to revisit that. When you can buy a gun at a garage sale, with no background check and no paperwork, I think we’ve got a problem. I’m also disturbed by the casual disregard for the seriousness of carrying a gun. Have we become so inured by movies and television that we don’t understand the full impact of such a responsibility? Perhaps. But I can separate fact from reality and I understand that life is not a movie. The last thing I want to do is confront anyone and pull a gun on them.

We need a major paradigm shift in this country, and we need to make an effort to get away from this cowboy mentality, this idea that any citizen, upstanding or not,  with a gun is capable of making life and death decisions in a split second. More guns is not the answer. It’s only going to get more kids like Trayvon killed, and that is something we all need to be concerned about.

Listen to me or I’ll sic the Fembots on you.

Machine gun bra


  1. I believe in the right to own guns, but to carry them around is amazingly naive and stupid. The criteria for a carry permit should be set extremely high.

  2. I'm still caught up in the idea that had Trayvon Martin been white and his shooter a black man this would have played out oh so differently.
    I'm still caught up in the idea that NewtGeraldo GingrichRivera are even being listened to in this country.
    I'm still caught up in the idea that a neighbor can shoot a neighbor and not really be questioned about it.
    I'm still caught up ion the idea that people think they need to, should be allowed to, have to, carry guns.

  3. my worst fear is that a kid will bring a gun to school and go after other kids/ teachers for slights both real and imagined. it's one of the things i have nightmares about.

    i'm with both ken and bob, guns should be legal but the criteria needs to be upped. if the tables were turned they would of lynched a black man who shot a white boy in the south without provocation or reason.


  4. And I am with Mrs. Miss in being with Ken and Bob... I have a long list of 'why there will never be gun control' although one of the big fears that crime would go out of control has not yet played out in the rest of the world that lives without our gun culture...


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