Here continues a conversation that began with the comments on my 12/28/13 post, “Nancy Lanza, a mother tragic and infuriating.” One should also see the 12/29/13 post at lwk’s blog, “How would you prevent another Sandy Hook?”
Three principles of Free Speech Handbook are prominent to me as I approach this writing. I myself must beware temptations to change the subject and filibuster, though filibuster rarely happens in writing. It is important that each participant deal with exactly what the other person says. Thinking of what to say here, I’ve already found myself trying to refute things my opponent never said. Gun control, abortion and race are three topics especially prone to that difficulty.
On reflection, what lwk is actually proposing is reasonable. We know for certain what crooks will do if large amounts of cash don’t have armed guards. We know for certain what the Jared Loughners and John Hinckleys will do if elected officials don’t have armed guards. And we know for certain — now — what the perpetrators of Columbine, Aurora and Newton will do if large groups of children don’t have armed guards.
I don’t like the idea of arming schoolteachers. I taught school for five years and can name you former colleagues who should not be armed. Competence to manage children doesn’t spell competence to manage deadly force. They’re two different things.
I certainly know guys personally who would rob a bank if guards weren’t armed. Of somewhat more concern, I don’t know that I do, but I probably also do know guys personally who would use their fists on an old lady as she leaves the ATM. I wonder what life awaits them in jail. And then there’s scum like Conrad Barrett.
As to what changed after the 1950’s, I see two factors.
First is the scandal factor. A scandal is literally a stumbling block. Some stumble with indignation, others with fascination. The crimes of Brenda Spencer and Patrick Purdy may have “inspired” those who followed. Adam Lanza saw Anders Breivik as a role model, and sought to best him.
Second is the social turmoil of the 1960’s and 1970’s. After fifty years, it can be hard to remember just how bad it was. The crumbling of authoritarian social norms left dependent people — who need others to tell them what to think, or how to act, or Their Place — not knowing what to think, or how to act, or Their Place. The answer to this problem is the development of autonomy — self-rule, including self-control — which happens to be exactly what Trojan Horse Productions is all about.
In the meantime, the change in Hallowe’en comes to me as an example. For me, when I was little, “Beggars’ Night” was the high point of the year, bigger than Christmas. We would dress up in our costumes, and after dark go door to door asking all the neighbors for candy. In the mid-1960’s, some who felt they had no Place — nowhere to belong — became hostile toward the belonging-ness of the little kids in costumes. They began embedding razor blades in apples and needles in candy bars; and the scandal just grew. In urban areas today, Beggars’ Night hardly happens. Hallowe’en is confined to community groups’ indoor parties.
Dylan Klebold never belonged. Adam Lanza never belonged. So, another principle of The William Tell Show: here, everyone must belong.
We can make some equations:
nut case + deadly weapon = trouble
malcontent + deadly weapon = trouble
criminal + deadly weapon = trouble
The more guns are in circulation, the more likely it is that one of those combinations will occur.
But in places where the word “law” has no meaning, gun control laws have no effect. The illegal market is such that anyone who wants a gun will have one.
And who wants a gun more than a convicted felon in the ‘hood?
I was secretary to a lawyer to whom the public defender outsourced certain work on capital cases. In one case, this man, his girlfriend and her sister drove up to the Chinese carry-out to pick up their order. Our client, loitering by the door, made certain remarks to the woman as she went in, and again as she went out. She got in the car and told her boyfriend, who got out of the car and spoke. Our client, who himself had just “come home” (been released from jail) three weeks before, produced a gun and shot and killed the man, shot and killed the woman, and shot her sister in the face.
lwk took issue with my saying in the original post, “I still do not understand those who oppose any limits at all on how many guns a person can own.” lwk said, “There are tons of people who own tons of guns because they like guns – for whatever reason – and are absolutely no threat to any other law abiding citizen. * * * It is not how many guns a person owns. It is what is in their head and heart.”
Some people collect coins, some collect stamps, some cars, some fine art. There are collectors. At some point, we need to ask what’s in the head and in the heart of one who wants to collect unlimited numbers of certain kinds of deadly weapons. However, I assume lwk supports current measures to keep any gun out of the hands of convicted felons and known mental cases.
I formerly believed the recent mass crimes posed a wholly different issue than the matter of street crime. As to the former, the question seemed to me to be, how to keep guns out of the hands of nut cases who don’t yet have a record of their illness.
But the question of what’s in their head and in their heart, of people who want guns for the wrong reasons, is a great equalizer. This applies across the social spectrum.
Either the gun rights movement has a serious image problem, or it represents many people who want guns for the same wrong reasons as do criminals.
Every communication I hear from the gun rights movement seems to (1) equate any restriction at all on who may acquire additional guns of any kind, with confiscation of all guns law-abiding people already have; and (2) equate that with emasculation.
As if, without a gun, one has no manhood.
As if more guns make you more of a man.
That’s exactly what our client at the Chinese carry-out believed.
The forthcoming post “The wrong place at the wrong time” typifies what I mean to say to residents of high-crime districts who assume they need to “pack” for self-protection. I’ve lived in such areas, never carried a weapon, and except for a brief period in 2009 never considered carrying a weapon.
I carry myself a certain way, mind my own business, treat everyone with the same respect, and have no chip on my shoulder. The wrong place at the wrong time is somewhere I just don’t go — and no one else needs to go there, either. I’m man enough without a gun.
No one who isn’t, should have one.
I anticipate that lwk will agree.