The bartender brings him one drink, and then another, and then another and this goes on for the better part of an hour. Pretty soon the bartender is thinking he’s gotta cut this gun off. But he also notices that the gun looks terrified, so before he cuts him off, he decides to find out what’s going on.
“So, I noticed you uh, really putting ‘em away over here…is anything wrong?”
The gun replies “Oh, no, just really nervous, you see I’m the next act.”
There was a singer at the front of the lounge just finishing up and the gun stands up from the bar, pays his tab, pulls himself together and says,“Yeah, I’m a comedian and, you know what they say, ‘guns don’t kill.’”
Actually, guns do kill, because until a gun can actually order a martini, a gun isn’t a gun until it is in the hands of a human being. Guns aren’t art and they aren’t sport. They are weapons: their purpose is destruction whether that be a tin can or a rapist. There are many shades on the discussion of guns and that is reflected in how we charge the act of murder…1st Degree, 2nd Degree, etc. But there are no degrees of death and sudden death at the hands of a deranged person is not funny and it is not negotiable; it is final. Although, I’ve started this post with an attempt at being light, there really is nothing beyond that that I can find humorous or entertaining about innocent people being gunned down.
Early this morning, when the horrific events in Colorado began to unfold, a process was set in action. That process goes something like this:
– Public Outcry
– Public Grief
– Public Silence
We keep seeing this pattern whereby something unthinkable happens connected with gun violence, we get all upset and then we get stalemated in acting to make changes to prevent these things happening and then we forget…or at least we background it. But the people who died, and the people who loved them can never background this issue. Their nightmare will never end. I pray for them and for those who forget them. And I pray for those who raise their hands and say “we NEED our right to bear arms.”
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
In case you don’t recognize that statement, THAT is the wording of the Second Amendment. And in case you don’t get the context, this was drafted at a time when we had just gotten done “defending” our new country via hand to hand combat with the enemy. It was the responsibility of the individual states to provide military protection. The effort was coordinated by the Continental Army…which was disbanded at the end of the war. The second Amendment was never intended to expressly give us the right to use arms against one another (although it has been successfully defended in that context by the Supreme Court.) It was intended to give us the means whereby we would be able to defend the state in a time of war, and the legal right to use weaponry in the first place. But can you tell me, what war was going on at Columbine High School? Or at Virginia Tech or Oikos University or now in the movie theater at Aurora?
One place that is at war are our urban communities. Gangs where young people find validation in a culture that gives them few other options. Crime lords who only value a life as far as it will keep them in business. And every day people who live with despair and rage that they are voiceless in our society and that they cannot see any future beyond the end of a gun barrel. They defend what little they have, whether that is actual property or their honor. Of course, I don’t see any of this as justification for carrying or using a gun (let alone an assault weapon.) But I bring this up because tonight I will attend a candle light vigil in Oakland. This vigil has been in the works for weeks. It is small (by Facebook numbers) but it comes from a genuine concern from the people and families living in a community that is surrounded by the roulette of random gunfire. When I moved to Oakland, everyone kept asking me “where” and if it was “safe” and “will I be okay?” and frankly, it terrified me. I looked at a crime map and saw nothing but big red dots everywhere. But I realized that I have also lived in Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and any number of other, highly violent cities. Fear is what causes the violence, not what will end it.
So today, the country will be in mourning for the loss of life in Colorado. We will all send prayers to all of those directly affected by this tragedy. We will also hopefully continue to debate the effectiveness of our gun laws, or the necessity at all for guns in a “peaceful” society. But there will also be a small group of people in a poor community with no TV cameras and no Anderson Cooper, praying just as hard for all of the families who live with and battle gun violence every single day. Many of the blogs are asking, “What can we do?” We can take a look at the “other side of the tracks” in our own communities, partnering with all of the honest hardworking families who live in fear of daily gun violence and make a commitment to change for the good of everyone.