By Heather O.
I’m not gonna lie, 2012 was a hard year to be a Republican. It’s bad enough that we have to claim the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Throw in Todd Aiken’s “legitimate rape” comments, Anne Coulter calling the president a retard, and the entire Virginia state legislature’s ideas on decreasing abortion rates, and you get a whole boat load of facepalm worthy moments. Sometimes I would ask myself, “WHY am I affiliated with such bozos? This is embarrassing.”
But I remember the one day when I picked up one of Glenn Beck’s books in a bookstore, just to peruse. I have no love for Glenn Beck, for a variety of reasons, and was ready to read things I would quickly mock. To my utter shock, I found myself agreeing with almost everything I read. Mostly the stuff I was skimming was about government subsidies and free markets, so maybe there was more stuff in there that would make my blood boil. But I came home and told my husband, “I WAS AGREEING WITH GLENN BECK! What does this mean??!?” My husband grinned at me and said, “It means you’re a true Republican at heart, babe.”
So I’m a Republican. But this year, I felt like I spent a lot of time saying things like, “Yeah, that guy’s nuts, but not all of us are.” “Yeah, well, that’s kinda stupid, but Republicans have lots of good ideas”, and “Yeah, but…” and “Well, okay, but….”. And in the end, the country just didn’t buy it.
I know people who own guns. Most of them are pretty normal stable citizens who aren’t about to go shoot innocent 6 year olds, and when they talk about guns, I mostly sort of shrug. My family is not into guns. My husband’s family is not into guns. Despite having deep Western roots, my father doesn’t hunt, nor did his father. My FIL doesn’t hunt either, and while my husband’s grandfather, a bonafide cowboy from Price, Utah, might have had a gun or two, he didn’t pass on any kind of gun culture to my FIL, who would rather spend his afternoon in a museum looking at firearms than tote any.
Bottom line, I don’t identify with gun nuts. At all.
Right after the tragedy, I saw my friends who have guns go on the defensive. We’ve all heard the arguments: people kill people, not guns. Take away guns from law abiding citizens, and the bad guys will win! The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.
And I guess those arguments are true. It’s my understanding that the Trolley Square shooting years ago was stopped by an undercover cop who happened to be shopping. I’ve seen statistics that suggest that armed citizens can reduce the number of overall gun violence in any particular area. I’ve read that the armed officers at Columbine didn’t help much with taking down the shooters, but at least they tried. Sometimes even the good guys are out numbered and outgunned.
But the other day, I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, listening to the radio. An ad came on for a gun show. The announcer was gleeful, listing off all the guns they had to offer. There was hard rock music pumping through the ad to ramp up the excitement. The ad ended with the announcer telling everybody to visit the website, something like “gunzandknives.com” for more info.
I stopped breathing.
I don’t mean that in a hyperbolic way. I’m not prone to panic attacks, or anything like that, but I literally stopped breathing. My breath was gone as I listened to that 15 second ad, and when it came back, it was in short staccato bursts. My pulse was high, and I had to focus on getting my breathing back to normal so I wouldn’t pass out, right there in the parking lot.
Who would do this, I thought. So soon after the tragedy, so fresh in people’s minds—a gun show? Do we really need another gun show? The glorification of the guns I heard in that 15 seconds…well, like I said, it took my breath away. And I wondered, after all of this, how a person justifies walking into a gun show and says it’s okay, that he is making the world safer for our kids.
I read another statistic the other day that the number of households in America that have a gun is actually declining. It’s something around 23%, which isn’t really very high at all. But the number of gun sales are still high, increasing, actually, since 2010. I don’t know if this statistic is true. I’m skeptical of media outlets and news sites, and I’m skeptical of statistics in general. But if that is all true, it means that the people who are buying guns are the people who already have them. They are building up arsenals of weapons.
This doesn’t make sense to me at all.
I’m trying to be fair minded and not crazy about this. I’m trying to wrap my brain around the arguments, the reasons people have, trying to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, trying to keep a cool head because I’d like to see some effective action take place, and effective action takes rational debate.
But I read the NRA’s statement, and while I agree with the problems of glorifying death and killing in our entertainment, the idea of putting guns in our schools makes me recoil. Arming our mild mannered principal? Having a gun in every Kindergarten class? I read somewhere else that having armed security makes children *more* fearful, not less. Is this really what our society has come to? NRA, that’s the BEST you can do? MORE guns is the answer?
I don’t think it is. To my core, I don’t think it is. And I don’t think the country is buying it, either.
It must be hard to be a gun owner these days.