For my readers who love it when I get truly pissed off, we’ve got a wild one tonight.
Some of you have been waiting, rather impatiently, for me to weigh in on all the gun control back-and-forth. We can’t really call it a debate, because in all honesty nobody is listening to what anyone else is saying. Everyone is planted so deeply into their trenches, it’s almost a political cartoon that draws itself.
We roll our eyes at the hyperbole of a “War on Women.” Well, my friends, this is the real war. With guns and everything. We’re having it right now. And people — real fucking people, not just some hypothetical talking points on a fucking memo — are dying. Let me say that again so you don’t just buzz right by that: People are dying.
This is obviously a liberal, feminist blog written by a liberal feminist. So it probably seems pretty clear where I’d stand. And yet, I haven’t really talked about it much, aside from mourning the tragedies that have come from mass-shooting massacres. I guess I thought I pretty much said my piece back in December when I talked about growing up in a kind of way-stranger-than-reality-TV version of Duck Dynasty — you might know it as Alaska — where guns were just another accessory of life. Don’t forget your mittens. Did you grab your gun?
[Alaska is] just about the wildest west we still have left in these United States. While I have never owned a gun myself, I certainly grew up in a culture that didn’t just value guns, it prized guns. EVERYONE had guns! Up until the middle of my high school years it was legal to bring a gun to school! Just stow your hunting rifle on your rack in your truck or check your gun with the principal when you get to school — no big deal — kind of legal. When I was in high school, I routinely got a ride to school from my neighbor, a female cabbie who carried a side-arm at all times — because you never know what kind of animal was going to get in the back of a cab. Indeed, that same cabbie taught me how to load and unload different kinds of hand guns as well as shoot them before I went to college.
Maybe that’s why I don’t fear guns at all, and simultaneously, they scare me to death. I know for a fact that the second you lose all fear about guns things get dangerous. And quick. But after 2012, every American knows that now, don’t we? … No. I guess not.
Tonight I happened upon a Washington Post headline that actually brought bile into my mouth: Five-year-old shoots two-year-old sister in Kentucky with a rifle he got as a gift
That’s not enough. I need you to really read this:
In southern Kentucky, where children get their first guns even before they start first grade, Stephanie Sparks paid little attention as her 5-year-old son, Kristian, played with the rifle he was given last year. Then, as she stepped onto the front porch while cleaning the kitchen, “she heard the gun go off,” a coroner said.
In a horrific accident Tuesday that shocked a rural area far removed from the national debate over gun control, the boy had killed his 2-year-old sister, Caroline, with a single shot to the chest. …
In this case, the rifle was made by a company that sells guns specifically for children — “My first rifle” is the slogan — in colors ranging from plain brown to hot pink to orange to royal blue to multi-color swirls. … The company that makes the rifle, Milton, Pa.-based Keystone Sporting Arms, has a “Kids Corner” on its website with pictures of young boys and girls at shooting ranges and on bird and deer hunts. It says the company produced 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for kids in 2008. The smaller rifles are sold with a mount to use at a shooting range.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Did you just read what I read? The kids were playing with a “My first rifle,” which was casually kept in a corner of the living room. How could something go wrong?
Let’s set aside the shocking lack of gun safety that was going on in the Sparks’ home. … You just leave a rifle propped in a corner with kids hanging around? Really? I live with a two-year-old. I’ve had to fish action figures out of the back of her throat. Two-year-olds don’t have risk assessment unless by “risk assessment” you mean the continuous thought, “What does that taste like?” or “I should probably put that up my nose.”
I’m with this woman, quoted in the same Post piece:
Sharon Rengers, a longtime child advocate at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, said making and marketing weapons specifically for children was “mind-boggling.”
“It’s like, oh, my God,” she said, “we’re having a big national debate whether we want to check somebody’s background, but we’re going to offer a 4-year-old a gun and expect something good from that?”
But that’s too easy.
No, what we need to be looking at is how the NRA and the gun lobby are going to try to minimize this story — like they do every other time a kid shoots another kid with a gun some asshole just left laying around. Like the 6-year-old boy in New Jersey who died last month after his 4-year-old playmate shot him to death. A shooting that came days after a 4-year-old boy picked up a gun laying on a bed and shot to death the sheriff’s deputy’s wife during a family cookout in Tennessee. These are just the stories that popped up for April 2013. Should I go grab some more?
The NRA is going to come out and say some shit about how guns don’t kill people. They’re going to talk about the fact that there are millions of gun-owners and that these kiddie-shootings are, yes, tragic (*makes sad eyes at the camera*) but avoidable through responsible safety precautions. If guns were the problem there’d be so many more gun-related deaths, right? Wait, what they mean is… Look guys, the NRA can’t help it that some people are dumbasses, okay? Nope. Guns don’t kill people. Kids pick up guns left out by motherfuckingdumbasses and accidentally kill people. It’s just social-Darwinism, right?
And you know what? Accidents do happen. But when pro-gun folks get up and blame the victim for their own stupidfuckery — and I admit, there’s some stupidfuckery involved here — it’s a big fucking problem! You know why? They manage to turn it into a cultural joke. Those dumb hicks! What can you do? You might be a Redneck… Am I right? (On a serious note: I’m just trying to make a point here. Let’s just keep the “trailer trash” jokes to a minimum, please. A kid is dead.)
This is the exact same shit rape-apologists use to try and convince people that the rapey thing they did is not really rapey. Because rape is so, you know, whatever. Really, the rapists are the true victims — like those poor, poor Steubenville football players. Their lives are ruined forever. This is the same, manipulative, bullshit that abusive people have been using to control others for centuries. This is the older brother sitting on the younger brother’s chest, forcing him to slap himself in the face and taunting, “Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself!” Hell, this is the kind of story the gun lobby wants. We’re so busy making “trailer trash” jokes about the dumb hicks, we forget all about the huge fucking gun problem we have in America. (By the way, Nevada ranks 17th in the nation for firearm deaths among children. Just sayin’.)
The fact that there is even a real-life product like “My First Rifle” is only a symptom of the larger society-level … gah … what? … Fucking Matrix-shit we’re living in! We are so deluded! Our collective denial makes us complicit background players to this farce that is a gun-control debate.
Politician: We’re going to take the bad guns off the street. How many more kids need to die?
Gun Lobby: Take our guns and that’s the last mega-campaign-contribution-millions you’ll get from these cold, dead hands!
Politician (grabbing balls reflexively and running away): Eep! What I meant was… never mind…
It’s not going to change because you don’t really want it to change! Just admit it!
And this is exactly why I have stayed out of this fray for as long as I have. Because even though I do think that America could use some common-sense gun control legislation, there’s no room for that kind of reasoned discussion in the political theater that is happening here. A Minnesota radio talk show host told the Newtown parents who are lobbying for gun control to “Go to Hell” on his show. I mean… What the fuck?!
Look, I’m no stranger to intractable debates. I write about abortion all the time and I call out rape culture like it’s my fucking full-time job, while getting called a terrible mother on television by people who hate a sex education bill. My whole job is about being locked in intractable debates. I’m well aware that there are whole segments of society who violently disagree with pretty much everything in which I believe (which is probably why I like to rub their noses in the fact that I’m a Christian, just like a lot of them). But there’s only so much I can take. There are only so many rings I can jump into and body blows I can get up from. Even I have my limits. So I tried to sit this one out.
But that was before I knew about fucking “My First Rifle” and two-year-olds getting shot in the chest because somebody thought it was cute, or hilarious, or a right-of-passage to give a five-year-old a gun (by the way, he was actually four when he got the gun). I don’t know a lot but I know that guns are a lot more dangerous than this My-Little-Pony bullshit marketing gimmick lets on.
And let me tell you something: You can bitch at me all you want about the almighty Second Amendment. There’s nothing you can say that justifies this to me. The Second Amendment is not a fucking free-pass. We’re not playing Monopoly. This is real life. Five-year-olds are not part of the protected well-armed militia. Just shutthefuckup. You can’t talk your way out of this.
Rights require responsibility. Rights are regulated. Even the First Amendment is regulated. They are a direct response to inequity. They hold the line against humanity’s darker intentions. I believe in the Bill of Rights. I thank God I was lucky enough to be born in this country and have a membership in a very exclusive club — one that people all over the world die to get into. But being an American, it isn’t as easy as it looks in the brochures. It’s not some game with disposable pawns.
Or, fuck it. Maybe it is. Maybe the joke’s on me. Maybe the joke is on every one of us who look at these headlines and can’t shake the feeling that we’re in a waking nightmare. I mean, this is the epitome of supply-and-demand, right? There is some kind of demand for kiddie rifles that shoot real fucking bullets. The market has a duty to supply that demand, no matter how psychotic that is. They put sleeves on a blanket. So, of course, there are guns that look like toys but are actually real. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?
For once in your life, you idiocy apologists, listen to what I’m telling you: I don’t want to take away all your goddamn guns. But if you can somehow rationalize away the stark reality of the state of Guns in America — the record mass-shootings with guns bought legally, the kids-shooting-kids with guns bought legally — we’ve got bigger problems than your paranoia that “they” are coming for your guns or that you are a big fucking idiot who leaves a loaded gun just lying around. If you can rationalize away something like this, then this is all much worse than I thought.
There’s no such thing as a rational conversation with The Joker.