Gunsmoke

I’m not really big on guns.  I don’t carry one.  I don’t feel safe around folks who do.   And I am baffled by U.S. gun laws (see http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2011/07/11/dont-tread-on-me/).

And it’s probably just as well that I don’t do guns.  You see, I tend to be a bit clumsy, and I like my body parts just where they are.  And while losing some flesh wouldn’t be such a bad thing, I don’t want to lose a love handle and have to live with one lonely “apparently nobody loves me” handle.  A married woman like me needs both.

Besides, I do have a wee bit of a temper.  Just try leaving a shopping cart outside of the cart return at the grocery store within drifting range of my car.  You’ll see why there are folks who just shouldn’t “carry.”

Actually,  it always astonishes me that folks around here are allowed to pack heat.  Carry hand guns.  Concealed weapons.  To me, it’s a recipe for disaster.  And personally, I prefer recipes that aren’t lethal.  Recipes that result in baked goods are good.

So today when I learned that a man drove himself, his wife and their four children to the grocery store here in Virginia where he accidentally shot himself in the femoral artery while taking off his seatbelt, well, I got pretty angry.  And since it doesn’t pay to get mad at him (well, not any more it doesn’t), I’ll direct my anger where it belongs:  at the idiots who passed a law allowing that man to put a loaded gun into his pocket.  And get into a car that contained four children under twelve.

Those four kids had an outing they won’t soon forget.  They heard a bang when their father tried to undo his seatbelt.  Only it was louder than the usual click that the buckle makes.  Whoa!  Instead, Dad shot himself in his femoral artery – the I-95 of blood vessels.  When that artery is severed, it generally takes 2 minutes for shock to set in, and 4 minutes to die.  I bet his last conscious thought was: “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”  I’m sure that’s exactly what the EMTs did.

Now I can just see the NRA logic behind this tragedy.  You know, he was trying to take off his seat belt when he accidentally hit the trigger.  So guns don’t kill people, and bullets don’t kill people.  Seat belts kill people.

And this totally avoidable tragedy led me to look up some information to see just how pissed off I should be at the folks in Virginia and 34 other states who have passed similar laws allowing just about any idiot to carry a loaded weapon wherever he or she decides to take it.  Bars.  Restaurants.  Sporting events.  Church.  Doctor’s offices.  Schools.  Grocery stores.  Yup, all good places to carry a gun.  Hey, relax!  What could possibly go wrong?

As I was saying, I looked up some stats, because that’s what I do when I am pissed off.  It is a healthier reaction to anger than murder, and much harder to prosecute.  And I learned that our priorities as a nation have changed. We used to try to save people’s lives. 

For example, beginning in the 1980s, here in the U.S. we started requiring people to wear seat belts to reduce fatalities.  (In case you didn’t know it, fatalities are BAD.)

The results from seat belt laws have been fabulously successful.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics state that 15,147 Americans survived accidents in 2007 that would have been fatal without seat belts.  That’s a lot of people saved by a law that doesn’t really inconvenience us all that much.

By contrast, that same year, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reported 12,608 homicides where a gun was the weapon of choice.   Guns were the No. 2 cause of violent death (homicides) in the U.S. that year.  But guns did win the “overall cause of violent death in America” reality TV contest that year.  Because homicides by gunfire was trumped by the 17,350 suicides using a firearm, the number one cause of violent death in the U.S.  Way to go guns!  Nobody can kill more people than you!  When there are guns around, the Grim Reaper can just sneak up on a person, when they least expect it.

Silly me, I like to think that a significant portion of those 20,000 people killed by guns in that year, along with the other thousands in other years, might be alive today if there were reasonable gun laws.  But I’m just a progressive talking.  Why should we care if folks kill each other off with guns?  Or if they kill themselves off with guns?  Or if they kill themselves accidentally in front of four children and in a parking lot full of other folks who won’t forget today either?

So buckle up, my friends.  And think about whether you’re safer with or without that handgun.

Me, I’m going to get off my soapbox now, very carefully.  I’ll  unbuckle first.

30 Comments

Filed under Gun control, Stupidity

30 responses to “Gunsmoke

  1. Your post is even more valid today than it was when you posted this blog. Unfortunately, people still don’t get the message.

    • Wow, Sheri! You stepped into the Way-Back machine! I reread this post and find that I still agree with myself — which doesn’t always happen. And you’re right, sadly people don’t get the message. This was more than a year before Sandy Hook … how many people have died since then. Stupidity kills. And you and I both know that stupid laws kill, too.

      • Elyse, actually I think more laws have killed people than guns. I’ve often thought if we didn’t bring so many things out in the open then perhaps deviant minds wouldn’t make such a big deal out of them.
        I grew up in rural Kansas where there’s a shotgun rack in every truck and my dad was the real deal when it came to being a cowboy. He was as close to John Wayne as anyone will ever get when it comes to romancing what ‘John Wayne’ represents. However, in his 94 years, Dad never once carried a hand gun or an automatic weapon. Of course he didn’t ride a 4 wheel vehicle to count his cattle either. He rode horseback just like any other self-respecting cowboy! He carried a rifle on the saddle for rattle-snakes and such.

        • I absolutely have no problem with folks like your Dad. That gun had a real purpose. Snakes, bears, coyotes. Hunting. It is all these people who think they need to take them to f’ing church! to the bar for a beer. to the soccer match! And the folks who think they are safer with a hand gun? They need to look at the stats. But don’t get me started on the folks who think they should be allowed an assault weapon and unlimited ammunition …

          There is room (even in this liberal brain of mine) for reasonable gun ownership. While I would never, ever, permit one in my house, I understand that some people feel the need. But nobody — NOBODY needs an assault weapon any more than they need a nuclear weapon..

          • I’m in the process of preparing a blog regarding Tom’s mother’s failure to understand why we could not have his father’s guns in our home. Now that I look back on everything, 20 many years after the fact, I have no doubt that Tom’s father was bipolar and it turned into schizophrenia and then later paronoid-schizophrenia. Before Tom’s father, Tom’s fraternal grandmother kept 2 handguns under her pillow (or so the story goes). Of course, according to all the cousins, no one in Tom’s family of origin had a mental disease.

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  5. Thanks for your thoughtful comment — obviously this story touched a button with you, too. My sympathies to your daughter, especially if she lost any friends. But I’ve found that to some people these tragedies make them MORE determined to carry a gun — like the folks who said “If only one of the professors had had a gun, they could’ve stopped the shooter.” Yeah right. We can add that to the course curriculum for anyone studying to be a teacher.

    Perhaps the smell of gunpowder works in the same way as tobacco — the greater your exposure, the more you need it. And that kills too.

    I’ll be waving to you on the highway!

  6. Great post Elyse! I live in VA and one of my kids went to Va Tech. She still can’t talk about her alma mater without tearing up. What is wrong with our politicians? Is it because their kids didn’t die in one of our many “gun onslaughts,” that they cling to these ideologies? I pass the NRA headquarters at least once a week going up and down the highway and I always remark to myself, “have they lost their ever-lovin’ minds”? Yet their lobbyists are constantly zipping past me (average citizen) on that highway making a beeline to lobby Congress (one of the most lucrative lobbyist’s positions in the industry) for the “right to bear arms,” purposely ignoring the VA. Techs, the Columbines, and Congresswoman Giffords in our midst.

    Richard Feldman’s book, Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, (an x-NRA guru) really sheds light on the sinister nature behind the NRA: “Once, I’d naively viewed the association as the resourceful advocate of citizens’ Second Amendment guarantees to ‘keep and bear arms.’ But I’d been forced to recognize that, despite its sacrosanct facade, the NRA is actually a cynical, mercenary political cult. It is obsessed with wielding power while relentlessly squeezing contributions from its members, objectives that overshadow protecting Constitutional liberties.” Needless to say, the NRA considers Richard Feldman a traitor.

    Be afraid; be very afraid. :(

  7. Bao

    This post brings to mind the the SNL commercial parody for “Bad Idea Jeans”.

    Have to wait past the 30 second ad.

  8. Thanks for such a well researched, fact packed piece, Elyse! I hate all guns equally…hate is such a strong word, I know… Lynrd Skynrd says it well but you say it even better.

  9. Guns certainly do seem to be part of our collective identity. Pathetic if you ask me. Good folks who keep them for protection will never get to them in time to really stop a crime, because they are likely to stop and THINK before the pull the trigger. Remember the armed man who came out of the store right after Gabby Giffords was shot? He saw a man holding an automatic gun and nearly shot him. As it turned out that man was the one who had taken the gun away from the shooter.

    Sad situation for us, for our country, for the world.

    But thanks for the nice comment — it’s especially great coming from my new favorite writer — you!

  10. We love guns. We must love them, because almost every movie made in the last thirty years has someone holding and firing a gun. This never fails to amaze me, because I’ve never seen a gun being fired. Never. But I read the news, and I know that children and other innocent victims who happen to be standing in the wrong place are killed every day by stray bullets. And sometimes that “wrong place” is their own living room.

    This is a wonderful post, Elyse — a great mixture of sarcasm and hard truth. Your description of the femoral artery as “the I-95 of blood vessels” was both funny and frightening. Not easy to do.

  11. First-time visitor (and I see you at Nonnie’s). Great post mixing wit, anger, humor, and logic. Amen – I don’t want to step on your wrong side.

  12. Wow… that was fantastic. I feel as if I am expunged by your words. Wonderful. Our lovely state just passed a conceal and carry law. I have no words, thankfully you do.

    • Not another one! My husband told me that the lawmakers in VA are now trying to restore the right of gun ownership to convicted felons! At the same time, they are trying to strip felons who have served their time from regaining their right to vote. Clearly the right to vote is considered by some to be far more dangerous.

      What sort of country are we becoming?

      Thanks, as always for visiting and for your comment!

  13. In addition to all the fine points you make in this piece, I would like to add one more point to be angry about. That gun would never have gone off if the fool had kept the safety on. Am I living in a world that has “progressed” to the point where a handgun does not have a “safety?” I’m seriously asking the question because I wouldn’t know. I don’t go anywhere near guns, except for the ones that are probably concealed on my fellow shoppers, etc. So how would I know? Maybe safeties are no longer considered necessary. Well, why would they be? Sensible gun laws aren’t considered necessary either! Those poor kids. And all because their father just had to have a gun that he didn’t even know how to safely use or carry. Well, I’m sure it made him feel very important and macho and invincible to carry that gun in his pocket. I’m sure, to him, it was well worth it. But those poor kids . . .

    • There is only ONE more point you have to be angry about? I have a list! But the fact that the safety was off is way up there.

      I think my biggest problem with guns is the people who have them. The people who think they need to carry them around. The folks who aren’t in law enforcement, or security, or working as Lindsay Lohan’s bodyguard who pack a gun. Because they are often crazy. And they have guns. And they sometimes shoot people who disagree with them. That’s not a good combination.

      Sincerely,
      Mary Smith
      Omaha

  14. Clinton

    But what about my General Electric XM214 Minigun? The catalog that I ordered it from said that every self-respecting patriot should carry one. Heck, I was about to order one for each of the kids.

  15. RVingGirl

    excellent post. It angers me even more that AUTOMATIC weapons that can kill 36 people at a time are legal! at least with the old shooters, it was one kill at a time.
    Hey it’s gotten so you dare not flip anyone the bird anymore (not that I ever would. ahem…) They could pull out their weapon and do you in right then and there!

    • Thanks RVing Girl! There are so many things lacking in how we regulate guns (or really, how we don’t regulate them) that my blood boils over it on a regular basis. This post was just the latest.

      Automatic weapons should be banned outright. There is no need for anyone to have one, and no good comes from those who do have them. Can you say “Gabby Giffords?”

      Be safe and keep that finger in a holster!

    • Thanks RVing Girl! There are so many things lacking in how we regulate guns (or really, how we don’t regulate them) that my blood boils over it on a regular basis. This post was just the latest.

      Automatic weapons should be banned outright. There is no need for anyone to have one, and no good comes from those who do have them. Can you say “Gabby Giffords?”

      Be safe and keep that finger in a holster!

  16. Absolutely. Handguns and people equals murder, suicide, accidental death. Every single day. And the lawmakers, cowtowing to the NRA think that’s OK. Ducky, even.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song has it just right:

    Mr.Saturday night special
    Got a barrel that’s blue and cold
    Ain’t no good for nothin’
    But put a man six feet in a hole

  17. And don’t get me started about the number of children killed or injured because a careless parent left a gun where a child could access it. Just say.

Play nice, please.

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