Don’t Tread on Me

Updated

A few weeks ago, Stephanie, a Danish woman I met at a party, arrogantly announced that American laws were all stupid.  She demanded that I explain to her why our laws allow anyone in the U.S. to own and use guns.

I opened my mouth repeatedly to smush her argument, to belittle her point, and to quote from memory out of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in case she didn’t know that it was an infallible document.  But only pitiful little squeaks came out.  Occasionally, a feeble “but…” or “I don’t…” slipped out, but my normal ability to defend American culture to Europeans failed me.

Worse yet, I couldn’t even begin to explain why U.S. gun laws are great.  Because U.S. gun laws baffle me.  Shouldn’t all thoughtful, law abiding people agree with me that loaded guns should not be just carried around in case you get pissed off or you decide you have one too many toes?  Guns should especially be kept out of bars, political rallies and churches, places that don’t always bring out the best in folks. 

In fact, it was hard not to say to Stephanie, “Our gun laws are completely inexplicable and incredibly stupid.” 

Stupid people — even certifiably crazy people — can buy guns legally, with fewer identification demands than a 20 year old buying a 6-pack.  It’s especially easy here in Virginia, where I live.  After talking with Stephanie, I looked up a few facts.  I discovered that guns bought in Virginia are subsequently used in the highest percentage of crimes.  Go Virginia!!!  Yahoo!!!  Doesn’t that just make you want to whistle Dixie?

The study was done by The Americans for Gun Safety Foundation shortly after a crazy person at Virginia Tech used legally purchased guns to shoot 32 students and professors and then himself.

I’m actually glad that I don’t have my own arsenal.  I do tend to get pissed off.  Remind me not to stick a Smith and Wesson into the glove compartment, because I get pretty annoyed at each and every other driver on the road.  Have you noticed what jerks they are?  The lane hoppers, the texters, the adults turning around to rough up grandma.  They should all be shot, or smacked, or, when push comes to shove, pushed and shoved.  If I’d “packed heat” on my recent drive to and from Maine, I’m pretty sure I’d have used my guns repeatedly, on the drivers who cut me off, the ones who tailgated, or on those damn Tea Party folks who sport a “Don’t Tread on Me” bumper sticker on their car.  Because it makes me especially apoplectic to see folks who don’t think taxes are necessary driving their crappy, environmentally hazardous cars on roads built by U.S. taxpayers.

Now that I’ve found my voice, I need to get in touch with Stephanie, again.  Because she is under the misimpression that our gun laws make it so guns are the only way we Americans can abuse each other.  And I want to let her know that we have other options.  Automobiles, for instance.  And who knows, the one I drive might just accidentally ram the back of that ’95 Buick with the “Bachmann for President” sticker on the left side of the bumper.

11 Comments

Filed under Humor

11 responses to “Don’t Tread on Me

  1. Pingback: The Voice of the Problem | FiftyFourandAHalf

  2. Pingback: Gunsmoke | FiftyFourandAHalf

  3. Humor is like that – it works best when it makes folks think about things in ways they hadn’t before. If that happened to you with this blog and this post, then I am really heartened.

  4. JEG

    You know… it is really a complex issue, one that if you don’t have a passion for owning a gun or the constitution is not easy. I do not want to own a gun, I think it evokes the possibility of many more problems than it solves. Really. I have no desire for a fire arm in my home and my husband and I, spurned on by your post talked about this the other day… If we were to ever own a gun, we’d keep it locked away. So that if there was a home invasion, we’d have to politely ask our attackers to wait a minute while my husband figured out the combination to the lock box so he could get the gun, then load it, then take care of business. I doubt we’d have that kind of time….. So all the stats and tragedies are points well taken. It is not an easy issue with an easy answer…. this post was great for encouraging discourse… what a democracy is all about…………………….

  5. If a gun is involved in a crime in the New York Metro area, there is a good likelihood that it came from Virginia, where laws enable private sale of firearms without any paperwork, background checks, or mental health history. Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani have both been vocal about this problem. In Virginia, anyone can get a gun. A pistol, a shotgun, a semiautomatic. These guns are then often illegally sold again and end up involved in all sorts of crimes. I believe that these inane gun access laws breed easy access to guns for use in crime. These “easy access” laws are the stupid gun laws that I am referring to in my blog post. The blog does not address reasonable gun laws. As the author, I get to define “reasonable.”

    In Virginia it is also perfectly legal to carry a concealed weapon into any establishment you choose. Another completely stupid law. Two summers ago, gun rights activists took to hanging out in bars, making sure everyone in the bar knew that they were packing a gun. Am I alone in thinking that guns and alcohol are a volatile combination? That use of alcohol might inflame tensions leading to use of that concealed weapon? It is the same with guns and political rallies. Should someone with an assault weapon be allowed near President Obama? Near Congresswoman Gabbi Giffords? I don’t think so. Gun advocates seem to have lost the common sense and reasonable perspective that should be part and parcel of gun ownership.

    These are completely different issues than the legal (and reasonable) purchase of a gun for self-defense purposes.

    That said, the likely effectiveness of a gun purchased for self-defense in case of a home invasion is low. Why? Because the smart mom and dad would keep the gun locked safely in one place and the bullets locked safely in another to protect their children. So picture the scenario:
    You’re home alone with two kids, and bad guys burst through your door waving guns, demanding money, computers, and jewelry. Do you think they’ll wait for you to unlock your gun, unlock your bullets and load the gun so you can defend yourself and your kids?

    Americans do have a right to have own a gun. People who believe they need one for defense are entitled to own one. They also have a right to drive a motor vehicle, also a potentially dangerous weapon. Use of a car is regulated by state and federal laws that govern who can get, license and operate a motor vehicle.

    Use of guns should be similarly regulated.

  6. So you are all okay with the illegal gun trade, with gangs and drug cartels and criminals of all sorts having the pistols and the semi automatic weapons?… this is interesting to me. No one is screaming about illegal weapons? Why? It’s too hard. The easy target is those who want to own a gun legally. While guns and all other weapons are terrible, frightening, and awful when used to kill others, because no good can come out of any of it really, why aren’t you crying about the government’s seemingly lax position on controlling the illegal gun trade… which thrives right under all of our noses? No need to tell me to check statistics. No statistics are good. There are no “good” murders. It is not better to be killed by a knife or suffocated by your mother than to be killed by a gun… It’s all terrible, but if the bad guys have ‘em, I want my right to have ‘em legally if I am so inclined to defend myself.

  7. I agree completely. We’d all be safer without guns, particularly assault weapons and pistols that are only used for killing people. While I don’t agree with hunting, I accept it as a way of life for some people. But handguns and automatic weapons are just designed to snuff human life. The statistics are irrefutable.

    Thanks for checking back into the blog. And I’m not willing to bare my arms either. The world is a better place when I don’t!

  8. Marianne Baker

    Elyse, I agree with your post and completely sympathize with your frustration. Nice blogging by the way. I’ve been keeping an eye on you. Are you scared?

    I don’t agree with another commenter that U.S. gun laws need to be “tweaked.” They need to be torn asunder and completely rebuilt from the ground up. Personally, I feel the second amendment needs reinterpretation. I understand that, constitutionally, Americans have the right to keep and bare their arms, but the founding fathers meant only in the summertime and only if you don’t have a lot of sagging. I have arms like that and, you can take it from me, they need to be covered, which I suppose would fall under the heading of carrying a concealed weapon. Make no mistake — if you raise a saggy upper arm to wave at someone, you can seriously injure the person standing next to you.

    To the commenter who disagreed so strongly, I would say ‘check some statistics,’ have a look around the Internet, take it all in. Check out the number of deaths per year of children who die by accidental gunshot wounds in their own homes handling guns their parents thought were safely put away and out of reach. Take a look. Take it in. Think about it.

  9. No, we’ll never agree on this one. Guns are responsible for the most accidental deaths in the US according to CDC. If a person tries to kill him/herself with a gun they succeed around 90%. Most guns in the home are used, accidentally or intentionally against someone who lives there. They are dangerous. Period.

    For more amusing examples, you can look at one of these two items in the press in the past 24 hours:

    Lori Klein, Arizona State Senator, Pointed Loaded Gun At Reporter Richard Ruelas’s Chest
    or

    Watch Wyatt Earp idiot accidentally shoot himself in the leg.

    The Europeans do have stupid laws. I just don’t think they add up to the number of deaths, accidents and disabilities that this one set of US laws do.

    Besides, even in protecting your home, a good person like you or me is going to hesitate. A bad person won’t.

  10. Hey there fiftyfourandahalf…. I must respectfully disagree with your position. While I personally do not want a gun in my home, nor would I let my children go play at someone’s home where there was a gun (provided that hopefully I knew about it) the ability to defend oneself at home is something I would hate to see go away. While I am not as well researched in the statistics as you are, I am sure it is safe to say that most of the tragedies we hear about do not happen as a result of someone defending themselves while being invaded at their homes which is really the only time one can use deadly force. So I get why it would be tempting to feel that a law allowing people to own and carry guns seem to be sanctioning violence.

    What I do worry about is the ease with which people can acquire guns, what goes on at gun shows, the power that the gun lobby wields to frustrate the process of implementing gun laws that make sense, but mostly I worry about the almost unfettered ability a person has in this if so inclined to acquire a gun illegally in this country. Those are the people to worry about most. For it is that person who has bad intentions, for it is that person who does not know how to use a gun properly, for it is because of that person that I do not feel safe. The illegal gun trade is alive and well here and that frightens me more. Yes there will always be terrible tragedies at the result of a gun unfortunately, and one gun can hurt more people at one time than say a knife, but there are so many tragedies that we hear about where there was no gun play… Casey Anthony, Nicole Simpson, Laci Peterson, Staci Peterson….

    It is easy for haughty Europeans to arrogantly poke fun at us loud, cheese burger eating, gun toting cowboys, because picking on us is always in fashion. And I agree that our gun laws should be tweaked, need to be changed, that the NRA should and gun lobby should work together towards sanctioning and supporting gun safety, tightening control on how guns can be purchased and who can buy them, not throwing their weight around for the sake of selling more guns. And our government should do much much more to protect us by clamping down and strangling the illegal gun trade and all the crap that goes with it. But to throw the baby out with the bathwater is short-sighted and potentially, in my view anyway, opens the door for more illegal gun activity.

    There are many stupid laws in Denmark and in Europe at large, next time you could challenge her on this one: “Attempting to escape from prison is not illegal, however, if one is caught he is required to serve out the remainder of his term.” How about this one from France: “An ashtray is considered to be a deadly weapon.” How about these dumb laws in Scotland: “It is illegal to be a drunk while in possession of a cow.” or “If someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your residence, you must let them enter.” This last one I would never do unless I owned a gun…

    • No, we’ll never agree on this one. Guns are responsible for the most accidental deaths in the US according to CDC. If a person tries to kill him/herself with a gun they succeed around 90%. Most guns in the home are used, accidentally or intentionally against someone who lives there. They are dangerous. Period.

      For more amusing examples, you can look at one of these two items in the press in the past 24 hours:

      Lori Klein, Arizona State Senator, Pointed Loaded Gun At Reporter Richard Ruelas’s Chest or

      Watch Wyatt Earp idiot accidentally shoot himself in the leg .

      The Europeans do have stupid laws. I just don’t think they add up to the number of deaths, accidents and disabilities that this one set of US laws do.

      Besides, even in protecting your home, a good person like you or me is going to hesitate. A bad person won’t.

Play nice, please.

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