Lunaya Pravda

28 March 2006

Gun culture on trial

The bodies of six partygoers up on Seattle's Capitol Hill had not yet been taken to the morgue, the blood not yet dry on the porch, and the predictable calls for more gun control were off and running.

In today's Seattle P-I, columnist Robert Jamieson has taken an all-too-familiar position - blaming the gun culture. He writes:

Don't blame the rave scene for the Seattle's worst mass murder in more than two decades.

Blame the guns -- and a culture that celebrates firepower.

Blame the murdering madness on a country that has seen Columbine, Kip Kinkel and bullets at the Tacoma Mall, but lacks the common sense to clamp down on weapons of mass carnage.

Blame the gun lobby on the other Capitol Hill -- not the rave crowd on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

I can't begin to express how detestable this position is to me, especially after an incident such as this.

First, it smacks of an outrage that has bothered me since my school-age years: the idea that everyone should pay for one person's sins. It suggests we all should give up something - our right to self defense - because Kyle Huff was an irresponsible, immature criminal. Excuse me, but I didn't run amok, killing indiscriminately, so stay the hell out of my life.

Second, it's condescending as hell. I'm sorry, but you can't be trusted with a gun. You can't be trusted with more ammunition than we believe is acceptable. Here, we'll protect you. Pardon me, but who the fuck are you, Mr. Jamieson, to determine who can and can't be trusted with a gun?

And if your justification for de-arming the public is solely that quandary - the fact that you can't tell who is trustworthy - then perhaps you have no place in this discussion. Those who've chosen to arm and protect themselves don't worry about making that distinction; to them, it's irrelevant who can and cannot be trusted. The defensive playing field is equal for them, and people like you want to upend it, giving home advantage to the thugs and making criminals out of otherwise peaceful citizens.

Lastly, Mr. Jamieson, what do you think might have happened if just one person in that house had reached for their own firearm rather than a phone? Comparatively, what might the body count have been if the policeman who confronted Huff hadn't happened by? It was sheer luck that the death toll stopped at seven, and overwhelming tragedy that it wasn't stopped sooner by those with the potential to respond the quickest - the people still in the house.

Contrary to what you propose, Mr. Jamieson, I don't love guns. I'm not a member of the Rambo shoot-'em-up culture you suggest is dominating and plaguing America. Most gun owners I know pray they are never forced into the cusp of deciding to fire. But they are also the most pragmatic, realistic side of this debate, valuing and protecting their own lives and correct in their assessment that criminals will always have guns, no matter how many laws people like you pass. You can bury your head in the sand all you want, but the gun-related crime rates in cities such as San Francisco and Washington D.C. don't support your claims.

While you're welcome to devalue your own life, Mr. Jamieson, it's insulting to insist that everyone else devalue theirs. Because really what you're trying to force-feed us is the idea that our lives aren't worth defending, that your fear of guns is more important. Sorry, but I suspect even Linda Lovelace would have a hard time swallowing a lie that big.

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