Some years ago when I had a Boston Whaler and a house at the seashore, I also had two young neighboring boys living on either side of me who were both in their cowboy stage. Rain or shine, throughout one hot summer, they would show up at my door with jeweled holsters and elaborate six-shooters at their sides. They even wore them over bathing trunks. Both sets of parents hated the incessant noise from the caps in the guns, but seemed incapable of saying “no.”
The boys and I were good friends and I enjoyed having them underfoot--most of the time. In the early summer I took their mothers and the boys on a quick spin around a creek where I kept the boat. They loved it, but what they dreamed about was an even longer spin, beyond the harbor into deeper water. Their dream grew into a wild imagined adventure and became part of every conversation I had with my young friends.
Then I had an inspiration. I tried to make a deal with them. I told them that I would take them both out on a long water adventure, complete with a picnic lunch on a distant beach, if they would gather up their six-shooters and every other gun (toy) they owned. We would pack them up, weight them down and assign them to Davy Jones’s locker when we were in very deep water.
Their faces fell and they both got up and silently left. I brought up my bargain several more times that summer but the reaction was always the same. And as you can quess, our friendship was never the same again.
I thought about that summer when I read Nick Kristof’s NYTimes’a op-ed, “Why Not Regulate Guns as Seriously as Toys?” Kristof’s essay begins:
Jared Loughner was considered too mentally unstable to attend community college. He was rejected by the Army. Yet buy a Glock handgun and a 33-round magazine? No problem.
Kristof need not have gone much further, but he did with some sobering statistics. He tells us that there are 85 guns in the United States for every 100 people. (Gulp!) Every day in America 80 people die from guns and many more times that number are injured. He writes that since the Tucson slaughter 320 or more Americans have died from a gun shot, either self-inflicted, accidental or intentionally homicidal.
The presence of a gun in a household makes that household less safe, not more so.
If all of this is obvious and statistically provable, why is there not currently a nationwide movement to control and curb all guns? Why were the laws outlawing the extended clip that the Tucson killer used allowed to expire?
In the current discussion about the uncivility of our present public discourse, we should not forget our own recent history of violent talk and violent behavior. Robert Kennedy Jr. [Here] reminds us of the shockingly poisonous political atmosphere in Dallas in 1963 when his Uncle Jack was gunned down.
Sarah Brady and her husband, Reagan’s Press Secretary who was gunned down with the President, have spent the better part of the last twenty years working for gun control legislation. [Here] Carolyn McCarthy who has been a strong advocate for gun control, lost her husband and saw her son permanently impaired because they happened to be on the same Long Island commuter train with a deranged man with a gun. [Here]
Must we be victims of the violence that too often accompanies guns to advocate for their control? Must we have stout hearts to withstand the political pressure of the NRA?
I have lost track of my young friends. I’m sure they’ve forgotten their fixation on those six-guns, but I bet they both have a gun in their homes. They might even be members of the NRA. But perhaps they’ve grown completely away from that emotional stage that Freud called “latency,” where guns and buddies are so important.[Here] I hope they have.
Unfortunately, too few American males seem to have...