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musings on guns, because that's not polarizing, right?

I’m really not exaggerating when I say that practically every weekday morning comes with some event, large or small, that makes me think that I must be on The Truman Show or something. Usually it’s absurd traffic jams or the school bus company failing at their raison d’etre. But occasionally things will happen like my elderly neighbor will wander outside on a frigid winter morning or something else equally notable.

On Wednesday, the baby and I made our way to the bus stop, still reveling in the recent switch to a new bus company that does these crazy things like “show up” and “transport children to school before 10 a.m.” We noticed a news van and a group of people gathered on the corner, plus some police cars. I asked another mom at the bus stop what was going on. “Um, apparently there’s a hostage situation,” she said.

Uh. What?

She, of course, was sketchy on the details but heard that there had been some kind of domestic dispute and the husband was supposedly holed up in the house with some weapons.

This obviously worried me, since there was a SWAT team present. Were there other people in the house? Was the situation going to go nuclear before I could put my kid safely on the bus and hightail it back to my house? Was I a total idiot for staying there regardless?

The situation ended up being resolved several hours later in a most ridiculous fashion. After the wife had initially left the house, the husband, probably realizing that the police would be coming, left as well. So the police and the SWAT team were standing outside, shouting surrender orders through a bullhorn, firing tear gas and flash bang grenades. We got to hear one of those flash bangs go off, which was super startling and prompted me to get my “INCOMING!” duck and cover ready to go. They also sent in a robot to suss out the situation, after which point the family dog finally surrendered to police. The police finally called the guy on his cell phone and found out that he was two blocks away.

Now, obviously, he needed to be arrested on the domestic violence charge. It’s also possible that he’ll face firearm charges since they found several guns in the home, including an AK-47.

Ice Cube on a good day, during which he did not have to employ his AK-47

It’s not shocking to me that people possess illegal firearms and that those firearms are hopefully way more gun than they need. But it really freaks me out that this guy had a small arsenal and lives just a few steps away from a preschool. Not that there would be any good place for him to live with such things, other than in a cabin that he built himself somewhere in the woods.

My stance on guns and gun control has evolved over the years. I used to be firmly anti-gun, supported all strict gun control measures, and would have gladly supported any candidate proposing to ban them altogether. But I came to understand many people’s justification for owning them, whether or not I agreed with them. I’ve remained a supporter of gun control measures though. There will always be underground methods for obtaining any item. That shouldn’t stop us as a society from regulating how they’re traded above ground.

I just really have not met anyone who has felt that they really REALLY needed a gun outside of hunting who wasn’t a) kind of an idiot about it or b) up to some dirty business. Like the friends who live waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out in the middle of nowhere and own guns to protect their home from crackheads. I mean, I don’t know why a crackhead is out in the woods but maybe you need to move to, like, a populated area so you’re not defending yourself on your own. And, yes, there are shooting sprees and attacks and all of these things, but unless you’re actively training to respond to such a situation often, you’re probably not going to save the day just because you have a concealed weapons permit.

After our house was broken into, we did the inevitable mental circus of “what-if” scenarios. We were extremely freaked out that the burglar had entered our home while we there, asleep, and were just so, so thankful that he was only there to steal things and not interested in hurting anyone. I really and truly don’t care about my things and even if the dude had announced that he was going to be taking every last thing in my home, I would have let him with the understanding that he not lay a finger on any of us. I have insurance, you know? Plus, more importantly, stuff is just stuff and neither a single thing in my home nor my pride is worth any bodily harm to me or my family. But we did wonder about what if it had been a break-in with the intent of doing harm to us. How would we have defended ourselves? The truth is, I don’t know. And we did seriously considering purchasing a gun. But I just couldn’t bring myself to be okay with it. I didn’t want a gun in my house. I didn’t want to constantly think about the fact that my family and I, like everyone else in the world, am just one (statistically unlikely) coincidence away from some horrible fate.

Unless that guy in my neighborhood was about to start a revolution but had to beat his wife first, which seems somewhat improbable, he was just some sociopathic jackass who thought he was bad enough to need an assault rifle.

9 comments to musings on guns, because that’s not polarizing, right?

  • Whoa. That’s some scary shit right there. Glad everyone was ok.

    I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to own a gun, like you. Any time I hear about someone owning a handgun, I think of Scott from 90210 and how a simple accident can turn out.

    • “I think of Scott from 90210 and how a simple accident can turn out.”

      Seriously, one minute you’re country line dancing in your living room at your weird birthday party with your overbearing mom, the next minute David Silver is accidentally eulogizing you in a hysterical manner via the high school radio station.

  • c-rawr

    I mean, I don’t know why a crackhead is out in the woods but maybe you need to move to, like, a populated area so you’re not defending yourself on your own.

    Maybe you need to let others live their lives and you live yours. That sounds harsh, so let me say at first (<4) and also explain a bit.

    I used to look at all these assholes driving huge SUV's and was hyper-critical of them. They're going to school, I'd say. They're not using them for anything I could see, and burning all this gas and wasting space and fucking with my on-street parking. What gives him/her the right?

    Then a friend pointed out I was being a bit of an asshole. Maybe you should stop being so judgmental, he said. Maybe he has an afterschool job. Maybe he needs to haul wood for his fireplace. Maybe he likes the truck. Maybe he has to pick up eight kids at the end of the day. Maybe he just likes paying four bucks a gallon. But the truth is, it's his business, and if he can afford it, and he's not hurting anyone, so be it.

    I live across the street from a middle school in New York City and have papers on file for a rifle powerful enough to kill any living thing on earth. Completely legal. It cost me a fortune, but it is my business and it is how I choose to live my life. I don't let other people live it for me. (It is for hunting, but if there was a riot or a food shortage (in NYC, this would become a riot very fast), I would be able to protect myself from danger. The police would be incapable of doing it for me. They are swamped as it is – if something really bad happened, the situation would really be dire.

    I'll also point out that the kids in my neighborhood have been dragged off from said school for illegal gun possession on numerous occasions. Have fun at Riker's, schmucks. They love the little ones.

    I have no criminal record. I have no mental record. If the time comes that I start mowing down innocent people, then that's different. I've done something wrong, and I should be punished accordingly. But it won't, because I've been brought up to respect myself, and just as importantly, the weapon I own.

    Also, assault rifles are just hunting rifles that look mean. They are no different most of the time, except for the capacity of how many rounds they can fire. They are not automatic weapons. They fire one round at a time, and they are generally weaker calibers.

    As for not being able to "bring myself to own one", I've obviously got that covered. In my social life I've dated a few girls here and there, and not one of them really had a problem with it. One was kind of iffy about it. Girls I have lived with knew it came with the package (me). It was never a discussion. It was, and is, a way of life. Growing up, it was just a part of a home, like an iron or a piano. The men had guns. Some women did, too. I don't know what you consider an "arsenal". I have a storage locker (NYC is very strict, again, so I keep only my one rifle for hunting) with several pistols/shotguns/rifles for target practice securely locked in another state). Would that constitute "an arsenal"?

    In any other state but this (including yours), I can legally carry a firearm concealed, like a policeman or a federal agent. I frequently do. It is part of leaving the house, like your keys or your phone.

    I make an excellent living and am a contributing member of society. I wear a suit and tie to work each day. I'm not wearing a dirty tee-shirt, toothless, leaning on a still. The community of shooters in NYC is very much the same. Professionals. Many with families and children.

    even if the dude had announced that he was going to be taking every last thing in my home, I would have let him with the understanding that he not lay a finger on any of us.

    human beings understand compassion, integrity, dignity. predators understand one thing, and that is strength. you cannot conduct a seminar about this sort of thing. he’ll laugh at you, take your shit, kill your husband, and rape you on the floor in front of your child. he’s in your home. all of these things become immediate considerations. logic goes right out the window.

    you talk of your son constantly. “the baby” you say. what if a man broke into your home, and it was just you and your son in the top floor of the house, alone. and the intruder is scratching at the door, and you see it bulging as he throws his massive weight against it, and you know pretty soon it’s going to come flying open, and god knows what is going to happen then.

    suddenly, let’s say there is a gun in your hand. you think you wouldn’t shoot that man dead? you’d kill him so fast you wouldn’t even know it had happened. you’d save your child and yourself and if you were to tell me otherwise, i’d call you a liar. you’re someone’s mom. you know the deal, i don’t need to explain it to you.

    now imagine that gun isn’t there. how the hell are you going to stop that man? wouldn’t you be wishing like hell you did have something that would make the stakes equal? i know i would.

    There are wolves and there are sheep. I will not ever be considered the latter, and I plan to teach my children the same way.

    I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is.

    • There’s no big deal. I don’t like guns and I haven’t met many people who are into them that I get or like. Maybe there’s something to that, maybe it’s just coincidence. I’ve “known” you for a long time and I know how you feel about guns. It’s a bit intense for me, but you and I obviously exist in the world differently.

      I think I do live my life and let other people live theirs. Like I said, I no longer think guns should be banned, just regulated. I’m just pondering how I feel about them because an event brought it to mind. I would obviously go completely Scarface if put into such a position. I just don’t want to exist as though that is right around the corner. If it gets to that point…well, I don’t know.

      Your long response suggests that you receive a good deal of judgment about this and I seem to have touched a nerve. I don’t care what you do (not foot-stompy I DON’T CARE, just you do you, girl, kind of I don’t care). I just don’t feel the same.

      I do think that that guy involved the not-really-a-standoff was obviously a huge douchebag.

  • c-rawr

    I do think that that guy involved the not-really-a-standoff was obviously a huge douchebag.

    Yes ma’mm.

    And no, we totally agree to disagree.

    And you would go BEYOND Scarface. :)


  • I tend to be in the “ban all of the guns” camp. We also had a break-in this summer and it did make me reconsider. . . but I still feel it’s better to be gun-free then for me to shoot and kill some dumb-ass teen that saw the glow of my laptop from the street and decided to do something stupid.

  • My dad was a nationally ranked sharpshooter and I’ve got family who hunt and are in the military and I worked for people who hunted so I do feel pretty much “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” As time goes by, though, I feel more like, fuck the guns, lets regulate some of these goddamned people.

    Recently, through a Twitterquaintance, I read the kick-off blog post in a series that a woman is writing to document her getting a gun license. She comes across as super indignant that it’s going to be arduous and she’s going to face powers of dissuasion. She also told the story of how she decided she “needed” a gun. She was dogsitting for a friend, alone, had left the door open while walking the dog (!!!??) and saw some guys she perceived as up to no good leaving the area as she returned. She then put the dog away, got nervous, left the house with her cell phone to PHOTOGRAPH THE MEN. Not with a telephoto lens. Not after calling the police and being told to get positive ID. But just one human being moseying close enough to a group of adults to snap their photo and, despite being afraid of them, thinking they wouldn’t bat an eye. They questioned her actions without threatening her from what I gather and she went back to the house. This is the kind of stupid that I really don’t think should be allowed to get a gun. But she’s going to do it because she has no record and she is, presumably, a fine upstanding citizen with no record and she has the time and money to get a permit. Let’s hope she also has the time and money to get lessons and practice at a range.

    My dearest hope at this point is that having possession of a gun will make her feel empowered enough to STAY THE FUCK INSIDE the next time questionable people are walking away from her immediate vicinity. Perhaps having a gun to load and check will keep her from putting herself (and perhaps others) in more danger.

  • Nik

    It’s your second amendment to own a gun. It was not put in the constitution by accident. Never give up liberty for security.

  • Michael

    “Raison d’être”

    If you want to do it the french way,at least do it right.

    The same for :

    “à la”


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