Tag Archives: Gun violence

David Brooks, Please Don’t Assume What I “Get” on Gun Control as a Progressive

iStock_000011104157_ExtraSmallIn his latest column, focusing on various afflictions plaguing the American working class, David Brooks had this to say about gun control:

“It’s a culture [the American working class] that celebrates people who are willing to fight to defend their honor. This is something that progressives never get about gun control. They see a debate about mass murder, but for many people guns are about a family’s ability to stand up for itself in a dangerous world.”

I am a progressive, depending on how one defines the term. I also grew up largely as a part of, and certainly surrounded by, the American working class.

I can say with confidence there is nothing I don’t “get” where the enthusiasm for owning firearms is concerned, despite Brooks’ blunt and stereotypical accusation. Like many people who lean left as I do politically, I absolutely understand, and in most cases honor, the desire of individuals to protect themselves and their families. I would not seek to prevent Americans from owning firearms within common sense limitations, the details of which are beyond the scope of this piece.

But please, David, don’t tell me I simply “don’t get” what guns are to the working class or anyone else. I do. What I also “get” is that, unfortunately, far too many of them (along with people in other demographic groups, like Donald Trump) are not plain-spoken, responsible men and women wanting to protect their families. Instead, they are gun fetishists who believe- with adolescent naivety and emotion-driven fantasy- that guns are shields and not swords. With inattention to facts and utter blindness to human experience, they nevertheless assert that that arming everyone, everywhere, is the answer to preventing the kind gun violence that, in fact, stems from the proliferation of those very same guns.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and the Savior Gun: The Adolescent Nonsense That Passes For Leadership In Tennessee

RamseyFinally, someone has an answer!

It’s the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee, and it’s the Savior Gun.

“I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.”

That’s as far as the “thinking” goes for this man who currently holds high office in an American state. Having a firearm, at all times, in all circumstances, at the ready and fully loaded, is how Americans need to start living. All the time. Everywhere. Church. School. McDonalds. The supermarket. Back to School Night. That’s the only answer: A perpetual state of itchy readiness for gun violence.

Music this is, surely, to the NRA and it’s sugar-daddy the gun manufacturing industry. But back to Ron and his admonition. It appears to go something like this:  All of you (you who are Christians anyway, and not anyone whose religion I might not trust):

Your new savior is a firearm. Let’s call it the Savior Gun. Having a Savior Gun and being a “good guy” is all that’s needed in Ron’s brave new world. Because after all:

1. The aim of the shooter behind the Savior Gun will always be perfect and true, despite shock, stress, ricochet, the natural non-preparedness of simply living one’s life outside of a perpetual combat zone, the shooter not being a professional or a marksman, the chance of slipping on a pickle chip, and an infinite number of other factors. In Ron’s world, the “good guy” will always hit the “bad guy” and save the day, period. There’s no reason to fear that a roomful of panicked shooters will hit each other, fleeing bystanders, or actual, professional first responders. There’s also no need to worry about whether actual good guys, the professional responders themselves, will know not to shoot the now pistol wielding “good guy,” as his intentions will always, somehow, be crystal clear and apparent during the melee.

2. The Savior Gun will never accidentally discharge and kill or maim the “good guy,” a classmate, bus rider, dinner companion, toddler, or anyone else.

3. The Savior Gun will never be stolen and misused, or fall into the hands of a child.

4. The Savior Gun will never be used in a suicide, a heated argument, or a misunderstanding, given the ease of which firearms make death something that can be dealt from a sanitized distance as an extension of one’s fist.

No, sir. Where the Savior Gun is concerned, all of these inevitable and oft-seen outcomes are either impossible or unworthy of consideration for Ron. Why? I guess he believes that, as a Savior Gun purchased by a Christian, it will itself surely anthropomorphize and adopt Ron’s benevolent Christian principles.

Adults, many of them police officers, understand better than Ron that guns are swords, not shields. Adults understand that the presence of firearms almost always means more death, not less.

Adults understand that the inconvenient realities around the actual nature of firearms, particularly when coupled with human frailty, tend to complicate attractive but dangerous teenage boy fantasies.

Adults understand that the reality of how firearms will likely be used in high-stress situations by non-professionals must temper the understandable but grossly unrealistic urge to view them as infallible protecters of innocence and virtue.

Adults see the necessity of firearms for qualified individuals and understand the importance of allowing individuals to defend themselves and their families appropriately- sometimes even with firearms. But adults also appreciate the grave necessity to control the accessibility to guns, and also the public carrying of them.

Adults know these things because they’re, well, adults.

I don’t what Ron Ramsey is.

 

 

Virginia, Blood and Soil

VSPAlexandria Police

Through five European dominated centuries, Virginia soil has been stained red time and time again. The Civil War alone drew so much blood- along the turnpikes and rivers, in the killing fields and tree lines- it’s a wonder it wasn’t coughed up by the tired, stomped-on ground tasked with absorbing it.

Within eight days of each other this month, the blood of two men, both police officers, again stained Virginia ground in two places quite familiar with its presence. One occurred in Alexandria, the contested and then occupied port city just south of Washington, and one in Dinwiddie County, southeast of Petersburg and cross-hatched within the brutal conquest of Richmond and then the Confederacy.

One man lost his life at the scene. The other, thankfully, clings to life.

I know Peter Laboy, the officer shot in Alexandria on a traffic stop who, as of this writing, thankfully survives and improves. We were rookies at exactly the same time in early 1997, him of the Alexandria Police Department and me as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney.  As I learned to prosecute Driving While Intoxicated cases, Peter was learning to write them up; I would spend time with him on nights I was riding along with the evening and midnight divisions in search of drunk drivers. He was kind, boyish and soft-spoken in those days, not yet possessed of the confidence I imagine he has now as a veteran of the city’s elite motor unit.

I did not know Junius Walker, the Master Trooper and 35 year-veteran of the Virginia State Police who was shot and killed when he stopped to assist a motorist along I-85. He seems like a fine man and exactly the kind of cop who made me truly enjoy the interaction I had with police officers and state troopers over the years. I do know well the desolate, wooded stretch of road he was killed along, and I doubt I will travel it again without thinking of him. 

By God’s design we all return to the earth, bones and flesh to dust again. But a somber salute should be offered to these two men who most recently gave early to the earth precious blood in service to their Commonwealth. May that already hallowed ground not be burdened again with the red stain of violence for a long, long time.