One of my favorite Lincoln quotes has always been, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” I know in the vast expanse of quotable Lincoln brilliancies, that one is not exactly a standout, but it’s always made me think. Obviously, I’m not as equanimous as Lincoln, but I at least try to have some understanding of people I disagree with or, even, dislike.
People on the absolute opposite end of the political spectrum from myself tend to trigger an instant annoyance reaction in me, but in quieter moments, I try to consider how and why someone might feel the way they do. In nearly all issues, I can at least understand why someone is, say, against the right to have an abortion or against raising taxes on the very wealthiest. I can even understand why some people might think it’s “wrong” for me to be gay. I’m fairly certain I even have friends who, in their hearts, think I’m a sinner or kind of yucky.
My point is that there aren’t too many things where I think, “You’re absolutely wrong and you’re a fricking idiot for even thinking you’re right.” People are allowed opinions, personalities, and beliefs. However, when it comes to assault weapons, I 100% cannot see the other side. I’ve always felt this way–it didn’t take last week’s horror to bring this to my mind’s light. I hit a wall of non-equanimity when I think of someone purposely buying a gun that’s specifically created to kill multiple humans as quickly as possible.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-gun. I don’t own one and never will, but I understand that it’s a right. I realize some people hunt. My grandfather was a big-time deer hunter who used to do the whole tying-the-dead-deer-to-the-roof-of-his-car thing so that everyone in his small town could see his trophy. Cheryl’s brother and dad are probably out right now blasting ducks to smithereens somewhere in west Tennessee. And I realize some people think they’re safer with a pistol in the house (even though for every instance of real self-defense with a gun, there are 22 instances of murder, accident, suicide…).
Anyway, have a gun. What do I care. Plenty of my friends own guns.
But assault weapons? There is not one argument you could present to me that would make me somehow consider that it’s okay or a good idea for everyday Joe Blows to own human-killing machines. Believe me, I’ve heard all the arguments and they’re all stupid. And I don’t believe for a second that if assault weapons are banned, then suddenly we’ll all be at the mercy of rampaging criminals who will own the guns illegally. These are the same slippery slope alarmists who claim that if gay marriage is legalized, people will soon be demanding the right to marry their Shetland pony or dachshund.
And just today, the NRA has, in all seriousness, suggested that guards trained and armed with assault weapons be placed in all our schools. Definitely! Guns are a serious problem in our country, so let’s add some more, particularly around small children! Makes sense to me! Who gives a rip that other, apparently more civilized and intelligent, countries have proven that fewer guns means less gun violence (stunner!)? It’s in our Constitution, damn it, so I want my AK-47.
NRA’s VP, LaPierre, finished his cringe-worthy speech by claiming that just because we haven’t had armed guards in schools before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try. “Just try, if you will, to imagine it,” he said. “Try imagining it.”
How about trying to imagine a fundamental shift away from guns and a gun-and-violence-obsessed society? How about imagining not reacting to violence with preparation for more violence?
Damn, no wonder Lincoln aged like a billion years in just 4 years.
Rest in peace, Sandy Hook Elementary victims.