Photo: Beth Retro / Society6
Another day, another angry man shooting. I was sitting on the News side of the office yesterday — the air conditioning is broken on the Life and Buzz side, so many of us have set up shop on the other side to stay sane — when suddenly the room broke out in gasps and several “OH MY GOD”s. It was incredibly unsettling, and I had a sick feeling the rest of the day because I couldn’t stop thinking about what they must have seen that would elicit that sort of reaction.
Today the conversation has sort of turned, as it often sort of does, to gun control, mental illness, and whether it’s “too soon” to have a conversation about guns. But when the father of the victim says it’s not too soon, and, in fact, starts the conversation, I think we’re definitely OK to go ahead and talk about it.
As I (foolishly, I know) read the comments on some of the posts about the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward and the attempted murder of Vicki Gardner yesterday, it’s sort of amazing to see how many gun enthusiasts (or the people who don’t own guns but who align themselves with the politics of gun enthusiasts) feel super strongly that the Second Amendment is there for our own good. That owning a gun is a constitutional right that must be protected because it’s a valid one. And it’s valid because gun ownership is… the only thing keeping America from having its very own Hunger Games?
The Onion has perfectly summed up how absurd that idea is. And yet Ted Cruz recently called gun ownership the “ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty.” And yet another senator said the Second Amendment was written “to balance a tyrannical force here.” (He said this after 20 children were murdered in their classrooms two weeks before Christmas.) And yet. And yet. And yet.
YOU GUYS. Come ON.
I mean, first of all, the way the Second Amendment is being interpreted by most of these types is suspect as hell. But even if you believe that the founding fathers had keeping tyranny at bay when they were writing the Constitution, and even if you believe they would be against, IDK, re-evaluating some of the things they did or didn’t put in the Constitution as society and technology evolved… I legitimately don’t understand how one could believe this notion of keeping tyranny in check idea is THAT compelling in modern America… mainly because I’ve never thought that a gun would keep me safe if those with power wanted to fuck with me.
To be clear, I don’t have a ton of trust of those in power at this point in my life. But the true threats to my life and liberty will likely not be stopped with a weapon, because the people who want to take those things away from me will pretty much always have a bigger weapon than I ever could.
If a man decides it’s appropriate to grab me from behind and slit my throat because I refuse to go out with him, a gun probably won’t do a whole lot for me. If a group of people want to stop me from having the abortion I need to stay alive, a gun isn’t going to save me. When I showed up to vote without a Texas ID in Houston, a gun wouldn’t have helped me. (Being middle class sure did, though!) A gun wouldn’t save me from being raped by this cop, or keep a group of cops from forcibly fingering me in a gas station parking lot because they “smelled marijuana” during a traffic stop like they did this woman. If someone wants to see me thrown in jail for existing while black, a gun isn’t going to save me — in fact, it’s actually pretty likely to ensure that I end up fucking dead.
Perhaps the people who believe they need a gun for protection don’t realize how little they have to be afraid of in terms of institutionalized violence. I mean, if you’re white dude, you can show up to Target with a gun as part of a “peaceful protest” for gun rights. If you’re black and engaged in a peaceful protest about the well-documented police brutality that is actually taking away the rights of you and your children and your partner and your friends… well, then, your phone is a much better choice as far as defense systems go.
Because at least our phones have Twitter. And Vine. They have the blog posts that explain what, exactly, your rights are when you’re stopped by the cops. They can create hashtags and have apps that ensure your videos will automatically go to the cloud even if the phone gets taken or smashed. They have the platforms and access to the communities that allow people to talk openly about what is happening. And then there’s the photos. And the voice recordings, location data, and timestamps. The unedited videos. All the little bits of evidence and megabytes that are helping marginalized people get their stories heard and taken seriously.
So yeah, go ahead and make it hard for me to own a gun… in terms of keeping tyranny in check, the main thing I care about remaining in possession of is my phone. (And, God help me, a charger.)