Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Gun Thing

Picture taken on the SL4 or SL5.

Community gun: a gun that is hidden under a porch or behind a dumpster or in an abandoned building or lot (anywhere, really, in the community) so that (usually) a group of gang members know it's there and can grab it when they want it, dump it when they need to, and not have it on their person the rest of the time.

Many years ago, thanks to Michael Moore, the concept of community guns, and some guy interviewed on NPR, I decided I needed me some gun educatin'. (It's really hard not to 'talk' like Sarah Palin when talkin' guns).

Moore in Bowling for Columbine made guns seem like no big deal. If a guy that far left could be a card carrying NRA member what was I missing? I grew up believing, without any explicit lecturing, that guns are evil.  Moore made me see that lots of people grow up around guns, with guns and still somehow manage to lead long healthy lives. A gang/youth worker in an interview on NPR told of one day being confronted by a frightened and angry gang kid with a gun. The youth worker talked the kid calm but realized at some point that the kid knew nothing about the weapon he was brandishing - except how to fire it - he couldn't unload or reload it, had no concept of the safety - all he knew how to do was press the trigger. Living in the city, this country with guns all around me, I thought, Jesus, I need to learn about guns. Why not? What if someday I somehow have to deal with a gun - like the youth worker? It was time I cozied on up to the Second Amendment.

A brochure on an NRA gun course for women came to my attention and I signed up. The Saturday of the course I arrived in Acton or Athol or Avon - one of those A towns west of Boston - to meet the husband and wife team of Tammy and Jim (their names have been changed to protect me - they own hundreds(!) of guns). Jim seemed rather vulnerable and shy. I wouldn't be surprised if, as a kid, he was regularly beaten up on the playground. Scores and scores of different sizes and types of guns were laid out on a table for show and touch - some of them antiques, some quite beautiful - but I couldn't quite help but feel that all these guns and the many others he had left at home were shoring up the manly bits of Jim which couldn't stand up on their own.

While Jim's vulnerability couldn't be erased by tables full of weapons, Tammy definitely wore the strap-on in the family. They taught us the gun rules, taught us the guns, and then we went outside and got to fire them.

Shooting that first shot on a pistol was absolutely mind blowingly thrilling. It's that same high that people experience once, the first time, with drugs with love with guns, and then spend a lifetime chasing, never to recapture. Firing that pistol, I understood a big part of the allure and even the fun of guns.

Shooting guns is unbelievably exciting. Maybe for a bored, angry, unemployed young person with way too much time on his hands, it's even more thrilling. Any effort to reduce shootings in Boston is worthwhile but the cute picture above of Willie Kelsey is more likely to inspire cooing among grandmothers and broody breeders. Will listless, alienated young people with myelin sheathing development too immature to make rational choices respond to the cute kid picture when the option is the seductive rush of shooting a gun?

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