Let’s talk about guns!
I was born in the Stone Age. There’s a photograph showing me 2 years old pointing a toy gun. Others show me later on wearing what was called a “cowboy outfit” with a toy revolver by my side, so as to get the bad guys.
For the first 12 years of my life I was an Army brat.
As a result I spent about nine years living on Army bases. For a lot of that I woke up regularly to the sound of distant machine gunfire.
I was told it was part of a morning boot camp ritual, the part where the enlistee gets to crawl in dirt under barbed wire while bullets fan his head. I wasn’t allowed to go see it for myself, but it seemed likely. Why else would I hear machine gunfire at 6 a.m. every morning?
Most of us kids knew where the guns in the house were, and there were usually at least four.
There was no gun violence at those Army bases that I ever heard of during those times.
In retrospect, given recent events, that seems odd.
Guns were so ubiquitous that, walking around, I found spent shells on the ground with the same frequency I now find hypodermic needles on the ground in the city. But it was all from target practice.
My experiences later in the civilian world were quite different, especially during my time as a cab driver in the 1980s.
I never was shot at or saw anyone shot, but I had guns pointed at me and saw other people menaced with them. I once was in a vacant cab in line at the Westin Hotel stand and had to lock my doors and lie down on the seat because a guy was running around and between the parked cabs chasing someone with what I believe was a .357 Magnum.
Another time two passengers in my cab had me take them to a 7-Eleven. And while we were in the parking lot, one of them said, “There he is! Give me the gun now, I’m going to kill him!”
And the next thing I know there’s a huge scuffle over the gun involving the passengers, the guy they had it in for, a passing gang of kids, and five minutes later about three squad car loads of cops, and everyone else was up against the wall of the 7-Eleven.
So I have very ambivalent feelings about guns and gun control. The saying “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is idiotic and beside the point. The question is, “How do you keep people from using guns to kill people, so they have to use less effective means?”
There has been a gun buy-back program in Seattle. What did they get? Probably less than 1 percent of all the guns here. Maybe we should work at the other side of the problem. Instead of trying to get rid of guns, why don’t we promote other methods of killing people?
Think about it. One of the reasons people like to carry guns around is because TV and movies have taught them that guns are what good guys use to save the day.
Maybe all we need is lots more movies and TV shows where the hero saves the day with a baseball bat. Or lawn darts.
At first nothing much would change, but as more and more young people are exposed to the new ways of presenting violence, you’d start to see a change in the news. Headlines would say things like, “School terrorized by a former student armed with a shopping bag full of lawn darts.”
The only weapon I ever threatened anyone with was a two-pound rock. I was being followed by a hater, back when I was homeless.
He wouldn’t stop following me and yelling threats at me. I stopped, picked up the rock from the ground and told him, “Come any closer and I’ll shoot!” No, that’s not what I said. I said, “I’ve got a rock. Leave me alone.” Is it even legal to openly carry rocks in Washington state? I have no idea.
All I know is if I had to commit a mass murder with a two-pound rock, that would seriously tax my ingenuity.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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