Sunday, June 17, 2007

I've been staring down the barrel of a gun

I grew up in a house with guns. My Grandfather (I called him Papa) had a rifle in the closet, and I used t open the closet door, stare at it, and even once or twice reached out and touched it.

I never played with it. Why? Because, quietly rebellious punk that I thought was, I knew my ass would be spanked, hard, if I was caught with it.

I shot the gun a few times a few years later. My Dad & I took it into the desert so I could try to kill a few peaceful creatures for a college Biology project. I was supposed to stuff and mount 3 small mammals. Oddly enough, in 5th grade, I had checked a book out from the Bookmobile called, if I recall, "Practical Taxidermy". Of course, at that age, it was a giggle, a schoolboy fascination with things gross and icky.

I truly had no idea how gross and icky it was until I shot the head off a desert squirrel. Seeing blood sport, and tiny broken bits of bone was jarring. And frustrating, because the animal had to be whole for the display.

I finished the project a few weeks later with the help of a hunter friend shot shot a couple of rabbits for me. I never shot a gun again. That was in 1967.

I hate guns. I recognize their sad neccessity, for law enforcement, and soldiers. But I have absolutely no comprehension how a human can enjoy killing a creature and call it sport. Some of my beliefs I am willing to call personal failings. I recognize that some may legitimately enjoy professional wrestling, whereas I think it's idiotic. But I own my feelings about guns. No one is going to change my mind.

I regularly hear from folks on an email list, many of them conservatives and libertarians, that guns are lovely pieces of engineering and should be appreciated. They prattle on about various loads and calibers. I think they are certifiably insane.

From the NYTimes today:
Lawmakers appear to be on their way to fixing one glaring flaw in the law-enforcement system as a direct response to the massacre at Virginia Tech. But another change that is vital to public safety is facing heated resistance from opponents of gun control who seem to have trouble drawing a line between the right to bear arms and using them in crimes and selling them to criminals.

The bill would provide money to states to update the national database that gun dealers use to screen prospective buyers, adding more criminal records and mental health information. This advance for public safety was the product of weeks of negotiations between senior Congressional Democrats and the National Rifle Association.

. . . At issue is a pernicious gift to the gun lobby known as the Tiahrt amendment, after Representative Todd Tiahrt, the Kansas Republican who attached it to the spending measure in 2003. It limits the ability of federal officials to release data showing the path from manufacture to retail purchase of a gun that was recovered in a crime. Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Representative Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, are expected to seek its repeal.

All the arguments by people who want to keep guns in their houses fail even casual scrutiny to me. Statistics, while open to interpretation, show far more danger from those guns than any perceived benefit. To me, it's a bit like any addiction: one will torture logic to support the addiction, no matter how harmful. These people just want to have guns around.

I think that's crazy.

Some interesting reading on gun control issues can be found in these Wikipedia articles:

Gun Control

Right to Bear Arms

Gun Politics in the United States

United States v. Miller(1939)