The first time I shot a gun, I was about ten. My dad drove me out to a gravel pit on federal land behind our house. He nestled the .22 rifle against my shoulder and told me to relax.
I have no memory of the target — if it was a beer can, a piece of paper, a slab of wood — but I’m sure there was one.
I expected it to be loud, but I didn’t know it would hurt. I was scared before I pulled the trigger, but I felt even more scared afterward. I felt like I had just been violently punched in the shoulder. I had.
That was the last time I shot a gun.
A peculiarity of America and Americans is that we distrust our government. Though it’s technically the only thing allowed to imprison and execute citizens, we do not want our government to have a monopoly on violence.
We have successfully ensured that it does not.
On my worst days, I don’t know if I should be trusted with a loaded gun.
Half a dozen times, I have felt afraid of people carrying loaded guns. Every time, it was because the people packing heat seemed untrustworthy, immature, as if they had something to prove. They drew attention to themselves and to the fact that they likely have smaller-than-average dicks.
In each case, my anxiety was compounded by the terrible knowledge that I was trapped with them and their guns.
These people not only had every right to be carrying guns — they were paid to. They were members of the New York City Police Department and I happened to be on the same subway car as them.
I have ridden the train with NYPD officers on dozens and dozens of occasions and not felt the least bit afraid.
I do believe that the Second Amendment absolutely gives me the right to carry any weapon that a citizen police officer carries. This is a right I’ve chosen not to act upon.
In my mind, the first-ever school shooting took place on May 21, 1998. On that day, my beloved social studies teacher, a Republican, walked into class and said, “Okay guys, something has happened. People may start to joke about it, because they won’t know how else to deal. Don’t make jokes.”
130 miles to the west, Kip Kinkel had opened fire on his classmates at Thurston High School. It was in Oregon. This was one month and one day short of a year before the shooting at Columbine High School happened.
To me, this is where it all began.
My mind is full of shit. The Thurston High School shooting was the third of five school shootings that occurred in 1998.
There have been school shootings in the United States for longer than there has been a country called the United States.
Guns are like sexually transmitted diseases — you can’t ever assume who has one and who doesn’t.
Some politicians and some of my Facebook friends seem to be advocating that teachers be armed in order to keep children safe at school.
I think it’s wonderful and heartening that these people trust teachers so much.
If teachers were required to carry weapons, they’d probably want to get paid at least as much as cops.
This would obviously never fly.
In America, we are even more committed to underpaying teachers than we are to owning guns.
There have been six school shootings in 2012.
In my twelve years of public school, I had only four bad teachers and a couple dozen fantastic teachers.
I’m not sure that I would trust every one of even my best teachers with a gun.
Mental illness is like guns and sexually transmitted diseases — you can’t ever assume who has one and who doesn’t.
I grew up in a house that contained a lot of guns. All kinds. Guns for killing animals, guns for killing people, antique guns for admiring. I have no idea how many guns there were.
Before I knew how to read, I was taught that the only acceptable reason to point a firearm at another living creature — human or animal — is to intentionally take that creature’s life.
I was taught this because accidents happen. Sometimes guns really do kill people.
And, in any case, most people aren’t trained snipers.
Part of the responsibility of gun ownership is only pointing it at something you mean to kill.
If you can’t accept that responsibility, then you shouldn’t own a gun. In that case, there is simply no reason to have one.
I don’t trust you with a loaded gun.
As a cyclist, I have learned to distrust every single driver. As a driver, I can’t promise that I won’t ever do something stupid that will result in the death of a cyclist — though I really go out of my way to pay attention.
So why would I trust anyone with a loaded gun?
Several months ago, I woke to find that a loaded handgun had been resting five inches from my brain for the past eight hours.
It was surprising.
Some people believe that if everyone were armed, mass shootings wouldn’t happened.
But the United States is — by far — the most heavily armed country on earth. According to this study, there are 89 civilian-owned guns for every 100 citizens in the United States.
Mass murders by shooting are nearly unheard of in countries where civilians don’t carry guns.
In countries where civilians don’t carry guns, there are almost no deaths caused by guns. Only 11 countries have higher rates of gun violence than the United States.
So the logic just doesn’t follow.
I don’t believe that movies or TV or video games are to blame for mass murders.
Do guns really prevent home invasions?
I wouldn’t blame you for shooting somebody who had broken into your house.
Data suggests that people who keep loaded guns in their house for the purpose of protection are more likely to kill a family member than an intruder.
Tragically, this happened to a friend of a friend earlier this year. A father shot his son dead because he mistakenly thought he was a burglar.
The father is a retired police captain.
Since 1982, there have been three school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, a charming town of 40,000.
RZ’s grandfather, a Buddhist, lives there.
Every school shooting is the worst, but I have never been more horrified by one than the Amish school shooting that took place on October 2, 2006. A man lined up ten young girls — girls he knew — and summarily executed five of them before committing suicide.
Why did he hate girls so much?
We’ll never know.
But he’s not an exceptional case. Why do so many men hate girls and women so much that they put so much effort into raping and torturing and murdering them?
What’s up, dudes? Let’s talk about this. What goes so wrong that killing strangers or classmates or children seems like the best option?
A friend told me that she believes this to be an extension of white male entitlement.
I have faced white male entitlement in every job I’ve ever had outside of freelancing. To me, this explanation just doesn’t add up.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
I think about this a lot as it relates to the Fourth Amendment, which I believe to be much more important for most Americans than the Second. The Obama Administration has wreaked havoc with the Fourth — but people don’t get nearly as pissed off about this as they do when people suggest that guns be subject to similar regulations as, say, cars.
The Fourth Amendment impacts so much more of us on a daily basis than the Second ever could. To me, giving up the Fourth means that the terrorists (whoever the are) are winning.
The Obama Administration has been very kind to the Second Amendment.
We have a choice.
If we continue to regulate guns the way they are currently regulated — or if more of us decide to arm ourselves — horrifying, incomprehensible violence in schools and offices and malls and movie theaters will continue to happen.
If teachers carry guns, some of that violence will be carried out by them. They are people, so it will.
If we relinquish our rights to carry assault weapons and handguns, this violence will diminish. It has happened in every other country that has decided to follow this route.
Will some criminals still have guns? Yes. But their access to them will be severely limited.
If we choose not to impose severe restrictions on gun ownership, we are saying that we find mass shootings to be more acceptable than gun control.
This may sound reductive, but the choice is a complicated one: What is the relationship between safety and liberty; how do we interpret these values and does one take precedent? Including homicides, suicides and accidents, the US has 3500 percent more gun deaths per capita per year than the UK, where not even most police carry guns. But does it stand to reason that it would translate here? Would heavy regulations fix the problem? How does this relate to the way we arm our military volunteers?
If you don’t think it’s complicated, you’re not thinking about it hard enough.
I don’t know what the right answer is.