What’s A Gun To Do?
Me and mine caught the new cable version of Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” on HBO Max. I found the series absorbing, captivating, interesting, and worrisome.
We tend to give copious lip service to our concerns about the United States being so gun happy, and wring our hands in consternation. I saw a photographic spread in the New Yorker magazine, trying to capture some of the people for whom guns are a family tradition, a sport and hobby, a life. If I put my prejudices aside, I can imagine,know and understand that a good percentage (size/number unknown to me) of gun owners and enthusiasts are no different than the rest of us. You can have my Year’s Best Science Fiction Anthology when you pry it from my dead, cold fingers, dammit. Nonetheless, the statistics are astounding. Today there are 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the US. The population of the US is around 327 million people. That statistical comparison alone is alarming. The numbers according to the Brady website say that every year 115,551 people are shot. Last year (2021) 38,826 people died from gun violence. That’s 107 or so people dying from gun violence a day. A day.
There are categories that these numbers are divided into that give a clearer picture and understanding of what these numbers are. But any way how you look at it, these numbers are appalling.
I saw a posting sometime back, on Facebook, a picture of a woman in public holding up a placard that said:
LAST YEAR, HANDGUNS KILLED:
10 PEOPLE IN JAPAN.
50 IN GREAT BRITAIN.
47 IN SWITZERLAND.
611 IN CANADA.
105 IN ISRAEL.
41 IN SWEDEN.
38,658 IN THE UNITED STATES
GOD BLESS AMERICA.
Sounds like 2021.
But again: How did I like HBO Max’s “Jack Reacher”? As I said, absorbing, captivating, interesting, and worrisome
I am not a gun owner, but like most movie-going Americans, I do love my violence. I grew up with Dirty Harry growling, “Make my day.” And before that? James Bond, the Man From Uncle, Secret Agent Man. And today? Jack Reacher and The Punisher, and movies too numerous to mention that involve serious, chronic gunplay. Guns at the movies will get less of a restrictive rating that bare female breasts. (My opinion is that naked titties are more dangerous than a 12-gauge shotgun, but hey, that’s me.)
I think that guns are a subset of the Fantasy genre, up there with Tolkien and David Lindsay and Stephen King and such. Guns are part of the lexicon of magic, like wands and invisibility cloaks, dragons, wizards and spells and closets that lead into alien dimensions, elves and dwarves and orcs. Guns, like all the mentioned fantasy tools, are instruments of power and, in to many minds, security. Guns appeal, in part, to people who are afraid, who feel that a gun will make them safer. So I’ve read, and such would be my guess. A gun is like a Star Wars lightsaber.
And guns are fantasies you can buy and own.
You’re a good guy, no doubt about it. But the trouble is, bad guys get and carry guns, too. And I guess that that’s why so many of us want guns. Need to level the playing field. To, you know, deal with the bad guys.
Bad guys probably don’t see themselves as bad guys. They’re mavericks, don’t you know? Individualists, loners marching to their own drum beat. Ain’t no one gonna tell me what to do. This is America, dammit. The land of the free and the home of the brave. And if you’re talkin’ down my country, well, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me. But what happens when it’s not the beat of a drum that leads us on, but rather a voice in our head.
Well, as my mother used to say, maybe it’s a watermelon, maybe it’s a honeydew. I’m not sure. I don’t know exactly what’s what.
What I do know is that over 100 Americans are shot to death every day.
And since the violence has come close to me, it makes me skittish. I’ve had a best friend murdered with a gun. Many years later, another close friend committed suicide with a gun. And more recently, my best friend’s son was cut down by gunfire at a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. I also saw a man in a car crash at an intersection on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley; it was in the news the next day that he’d been shot and killed while driving.
I’m sure my bemused reaction to all of this is nearsighted, like Colin Firth starring in a 2014 Woody Allen movie and thereafter fashionably protesting that hey, I had no idea at the time that the Woodmeister had been accused of child molestation. What? Do ya live in a hole in the ground, dude? Not buying it.
(By the way, I’m a fan of Woody Allen’s movies.)
But guilty as charged. Question is, to quote the Rolling Stones: What can a poor boy to do? What can I do? What is the solution? Is there a solution? A solution we can all live with.
I’ll have to think about this, I guess, but not just right now. I’ve got tickets to go see the re-release on the big screen of Coppola’s “The Godfather.” It’s one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the book.