Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blam!

I was out of town recently, and before I left to return home, my host offered me a gun to take back to Trenton, as my host tends to do, as my host thinks Trenton is a hellhole, and the good people might stand a better chance if we had guns to defend ourselves. But this time was different, for two reasons:

  1. The firearm in question was a bayonet, and
  2. was offered with a new urgency, because Barack Obama, according to my host, (and a whole bunch of other people) is "gonna outlaw our guns."
It's no secret that I lean to the left, primarily for social issues, and the environment, though maybe that wouldn't be the case, had the party of Theodore Roosevelt not abandoned the environment; had the party of the individual not become so interested in micromanaging everyone's personal rights. Whatever, though. My point is that I have mixed feelings on guns.

I don't see a problem with legal gun ownership, in and of itself, though I don't want to own a gun, or even a bayonet, personally. We have a lot of stuff jammed into this house, and miraculously, most of it is used, at least periodically. So, adding a gun to that mix would be dangerous, especially since we have more than our share of lousy neighbors, and I have no qualms about saying that we'd all be a bit better off without some of them.

It is, however, another thing to say they should be dead, or maimed, and yet another to do it myself, though some days, I think I could. Which is why I shouldn't have a gun. Or a bayonet.

My big lack of desire to own a gun is due entirely to a gun's design: to kill. I think killing is excessive, most of the time. And I like moderation much better than excessiveness, regardless of the item in question. So, my feelings about firearms has less to do with politics and more to do with fact that they are extreme. Here are some other things I think are excessive and will not acquire:

  • $6,000 backyard jungle gyms for my child
  • elective plastic surgery
  • gold fronts, or any thick metal ornamentation for the body
  • pit bulls
  • Hummers

I'm not saying that any of the above should be illegal, I'm just saying I don't want any part of them.

Admittedly, though, a $6,000 backyard jungle gym, and a gun, are both kinda cool. Just as it's exciting for a kid to play on a palatial, climbing, swinging, spinning, house-y thing, it is also exciting to fire a gun. I have fond memories of skeet shooting in the Adirondacks with my family. I don't believe skeet shooters, or even hunters, are responsible for the rampant gun crimes in our country, for the most part. And I don't think they should have to give up their guns. But, at the same time, it's because of our right to own guns that makes it easier for criminals to get them. Both Canada and the UK have tougher gun laws than what we have here, and go figure, violent crime, especially with guns, is much lower in those places. So maybe it's the person who commits the crime, but the tool can inspire, no? All I'm saying is that it would behoove us to explore the link between legal and illegal gun use, and find out, for instance, how guns wind up in places like the waistband of a teenager riding a bike on my corner.

Cities, like Trenton, are usually very poorly managed; often they're run by corrupt politicians more interested in advancing their own careers than improving their hometowns. This is a big part of the gun problem in cities, which has more to do with politics and culture than weaponry. But when there's a perception that life is no good anyway, or will never get better, and the laws aren't often enforced, guns certainly become very enticing.

I'm a registered democrat, but I'm not one to gloat or carry on, because I find it offensive when anyone does that. And I believe that in our hearts, we have more similarities than differences. If nothing else, I hope Barack Obama will be able to illustrate those similarities to African American kids: that we all, regardless of background or skin color, have it in us to be more. Certainly those who lean to the right see that as a good thing, no? If more inner city kids were more like Barack Obama than 50 Cent, we'd all be in better shape.

Politically speaking, because of the similarities that exists among us, I find it difficult to believe there will be any sweeping changes under Obama's watch. We may have two liberal branches of government come January, but the third — the one with the power to affect wholesale change in gun laws — is pretty conservative.

I'm not an intellectual or a political scientist, but just a regular person blathering away because I can, and it seems to me that politics will always just be politics on the federal level. One group of people or another is always panicking whenever there's a change of guard in this country, and it's unnecessary. A lot of our motivating issues — abortion, gun control, gay rights — don't even really matter to federal-level politicians, anyway. Abortion didn't go away under George W. Bush, and guns won't be banned under Barack Obama.

It's my wish — perhaps as the liberal black sheep of my family — that we, as a nation, work harder to find our "purple." Not everything is so blue or red, right or left. We have so much in common, and as much as I hate to use too many cliches, there are more ways to skin a cat. Some of us prefer to do it with something other than a bayonet, is all.

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