Opinion » Bill Cope

Another Stab At

Shooting my mouth off to gun nuts

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My dear sane people,

While we await the Supreme Court's decision on what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they penned the Second Amendment, I thought it might be a good time to try to explain to those "law-abiding" and "emotionally stable" gun nuts we hear so much about—the ones who are always scheming to find more and more ridiculous ways to impress us with their firearms studliness—why we think it's a horrible, absurd idea for them to be toting concealed weapons onto our university campuses or into our state and federal parks, as it would seem many are itching to do.

I know, I know ... I'm wasting my time. Gun nuts are defined by their uncompromising nuttiness when it comes to guns. As sane people, we all understand this.

Still, with over 60,000 Americans being shot every year—12,000 of them to death—I feel an obligation to try. It's like spending a buck or two on Powerball tickets: nuh-uh, no way in hell do I seriously expect to win. But if I did win, it's only because I bought the ticket, yes? Same with trying to make sense about guns to gun nuts. Following me?

Ergo, every few months ... maybe once a year ... I give it another go. I can't just sit here and say nothing while these loony bastards keep coming up with new ways to demonstrate how nuts they are, especially since many of them are in a position to actually turn their fantasies into reality—e.g., state legislatures, Congress, etc. For example, I have learned (thanks to a recent report by Stephen Colbert) of a state legislator from Tennessee who wants to change the law in his state so that bar patrons can carry concealed weapons when they go out drinking. And isn't that just a marvelous idea ... saloon after saloon full of juiced-up rednecks packing pistols? I'll bet the night shift down at the Chattanooga police station can't wait for that to happen, huh?

That item, more so than the Supreme Court hearing, convinced me it was time to take another shot at this, if you'll pardon the expression. But it won't be politicians I will be addressing here. No, like most politicians, gun nut politicians set their sails to catch whatever they sense is the prevailing wind. And I'm painfully aware my opinion on concealed weaponry is not a prevailing wind, especially in environs like Idaho or Tennessee, where guns are often more important than healthy children, happy wives and well-fed dogs to certain segments of the population.

Besides, when a politician comes up with something as laughable as allowing guns in bars or on campuses, we know he's only out to establish himself as a reliable licker of the NRA's blood-soaked hand. It's not his convictions he's following, but the scent of money.

So my appeal today will be directly to those boys (and the occasional girl) who imagine themselves as secret heroes, saving some future day because they—and only they—had the good sense to tuck a loaded .38 into their belt on their way to English 101, or on their way down to Ye Olde Bingeing Hole for another evening of Coors, pool and posturing. Whether or not it does any good in terms of them joining us on the sane side, the least they can do is understand (to whatever degree they are capable) how we perceive them and their self-assessed claims of how qualified they are to be the nation's volunteer posse.

Possibly, I am overstepping in the use of "we" instead of sticking to "I," but were I to ask 100 people if they would want their college-aged child sitting in a lecture hall along with 10 or 15 young, armed males, any one of which might be far less emotionally stable than he considers himself to be ... or far less proficient at hitting what he's aiming at than he considers himself to be ... or flunking the course ... or having a girlfriend break up with him ... or having a crappy day ... or feeling small ... or wishing he were dead ... or wishing he were Vin Diesel ... or wishing one of the other secret heroes would pull out a gun and start shooting so he could start shooting back ... I have little doubt most would answer "no."

Same with our nation's parks: Would any of us feel better knowing that every camp trailer within 50 yards of our camp trailer had a loaded gun in the kitchenette, just in case one of us should turn out to be a crazed killer? And is the camper who's not the crazed killer qualified to recognize a crazed killer when he sees one? Before he opens fire, I mean. Or is it far more likely that eventually, two non-crazed killers would end up blowing each other's heads off (and possibly ours, too, should we be caught in the crossfire) because each of them was convinced the other was a crazed killer, possibly on no more basis than a loud boom box or a barking dog?

And as to guns in bars, just ask any bouncer how swell an idea that would be.

So I feel safe in using "we" because when sane people think about it—which necessarily involves some level of extrapolation as to how exponentially stupid a stupid idea can grow into over time—I am confident they would reach the same conclusion I have—that it's those people who consider more gun violence to be the solution to gun violence that we need to watch out for.

Really, crazed killers don't generally come from within the ranks of those who think there are too many guns in America, do they? No sir, crazed killers, along with those who see themselves surrounded by crazed killers, come from that community which is perpetually convincing itself there is no facet, no realm, no corner of human experience that wouldn't benefit from having a gun within easy reach. And there is a mighty thin line between someone who thinks he can be a hero—if only he had a gun—and someone who thinks he can just be somebody—if only he had a gun.

In closing, I must apologize for overusing the common collective "gun nuts." I realize that writers are expected to vary their images and not repeat themselves endlessly. But remember, my sane and literate friends, it is not you to whom I will be making this pitch. And from past experience, I have learned nothing gets the attention of a gun nut quicker than being called a "gun nut." Certainly, I could address them in other ways—Luger lunatics ... Colt catatonics ... Glock goons—but I feel it's best to keep it as simple as possible. You know ... for their sake. After all, if gun nuts put as much thought into anything else as they waste on their guns, we wouldn't need to have this conversation.

OK then, here I go ... out to reason with the gun nuts.

Oops! No more room.

Oh well, it wouldn't have done any good, anyway.

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