Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life as a Gunman

During my teens and early twenties, I fired weapons at people, who were often shooting back at me.

It was not a pleasant experience but, after V-E Day in Germany, when most of our food was being sold in British and French black markets, I was persuaded to go deer-hunting not so much for sport as out of hunger. In early morning, sighting a brown hide and preparing to fire, I realized I was about to bag a cow.

That ended my hunting career, but I brought home as a souvenir a pistol I had taken from a German officer. Years later, when my teen-age son found it in a closet, I disassembled the gun and walked a mile in Manhattan dropping parts in trash bins to make sure it would never be put together again.

In the half-century since then, the Second Amendment has been of only academic interest, but a flurry of activity post-Tuscon reawakens the sense of wonder at how bearing arms against targets that don't shoot back has become a sacred right in America.

A GOP house member proposes a tiny step toward gun regulation, and House Speaker John Boehner slaps it down as if he were blaspheming against motherhood.

There are such stirrings after every American massacre, but the NRA has no need to worry. In Arizona, instead of a public recoiling from the bloodshed, there is a surge in sales of the semi-automatic Glock pistols used in the shootings. (Having to fire one shot at a time into a crowd is so inconvenient.)

Yet there may be some logic in that. To quote a line uttered by a judge in one of Paul Newman's last movies, "If you arm one moron, you've got to arm them all."

The antithesis is obviously unthinkable.

Update: The New York Times publishes a debate on carrying guns, with a defender making the unique argument that one of those tackling the Tuscon shooter actually had a gun of his own but didn't use it, proving that "law-abiding citizens with concealed handguns can exercise excellent judgment in when is the right time to use their guns."

It must be wonderful to live in a world of "law-abiding citizens" armed to the teeth who can be depended on to use "excellent judgment" about using their weapons in every traffic accident, barroom brawl or other confrontation of modern life. Makes me feel warm, safe and sorry that I disposed of that World War II comforter.

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