“EVERYONE SHOULD OWN A MACHINE GUN,”
Said Mr. Jim Day,
“You’ll see this will be the wave
Of the future.”

He was talking his truth,
But probably a different message
Than the one that would emerge
Nearly as quickly as one of his Mac-10s emptying a clip.

You see, Mr. Day owned a shooting range
Complete with these assault guns
That people could rent to shoot up old autos
In full automatic for as long as they could pay.

“People fish, they bowl,
Why not come out here and shoot some junk cars?”
The police were concerned the guns he sold
Might end up in the hands of criminals.

Day was not concerned,
Thinking the police could be a market for his wares,
Money and profit being his values,
Responsibility not a concern for his unconventional inventory.

We are getting closer to Mr. Day’s vision.
Thirty-six years later, I wonder if he has bitten the bullet.
If not, would he have a ready made excuse
For the violence happening in his nearby Dallas?

One that would say something about
Guns not killing, rather its the people
And it’s that logic that is killing me
As the escalation of gun violence seems to be because everyone has one.

Or at least the people who should not have them
Are toting rapid firing fifty shot clips,
Turning them on whoever they want,
Like, different, police, or target rich environments…

Thanks, Mr. Day for your entrepreneurial spirit
And profiteering on the Second Amendment
In a way that bastardizes the Constitution
For your gain and America’s loss.

(Source: NYT-July 14, 1980)

I write most of my blog posts in the month preceding when they get posted, so when I started thinking about this post my idea was to write a fantasy story about shooting guns with my father at the old College Airport off of Waller Mill Road. I had an idea that there would be some kind of demons and we blew them away with our government issued .38s and legally registered .22 pistols. This summer of violence has taken that bit of fiction away from me.

The land at the airport was used as storage for William and Mary and as a place for police officers to practice their marksmanship. Rows of pine trees surrounded the grounds. The exact layout of their placement suggested that they must have been planted after the area ceased being an airport. The bare ground varied between dry, cracking clay and loose, sandy soil. There was a building there that had the smell of an antique store and was filled with tons of furniture stored in mothballs beneath a curtain of cob webs. The airport was far enough away from Richmond and Mooretown roads so that the clacking of the trees and the booming of the guns was about all that could be heard. There was a smell of spent gun powder, the same smell that came from popping strings of paper in cap guns.

Romantic, huh?

Those were great times. I was a boy with, as I saw them, important men (I don’t remember any women being there) who taught me the importance of being safe with guns. I was allowed to shoot the weapons and they instilled in me a respect for the power guns discharge. At that early age, I understood the responsibility of having a gun and as such, I think I had a respectful fear of them. Through high school I would have three guns of my own, but by college, I was out of the gun club.

So back to this summer… I can’t believe what is going on with gun violence. I can’t believe what is going on with policing. I can’t believe what is going on with the killing of police. As I try to make sense of the absolute horror of what is going on, I keep coming back to guns. Before some whacko from a guns rights advocacy group comes at me saying something about the Constitution, I’ll say I get it. The question I have for them is do they get it?

They argue, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” True. Perhaps they should be recognizing that, “People use guns to kill people.” The problem, as my independently registered voting mind sees things, is that the access to guns and the lack of respect for gun ownership has led to a culture that fails to recognize the responsibility of owning a gun. I could go on about the lack of responsibility for life in general, but then I might be labeled too liberal or too conservative by whichever side was more pissed off by my finger pointing. But back to guns… Are we where we were when the Constitution was written? Could the framers of that wonderful document have foreseen the kind of guns and the ease with which they can be gotten? Would they have supported the irresponsible use of guns by some police and some in the citizenry to the magnitude of which we are experiencing this year? Probably not. Yet here we are in 2016 thinking the same way as in 1788. What of the last 288-years? (I hear you, Ali…)

There are big problems facing our country. The election being the first. Not really, although that’s pretty bad. For me, race relations is the true number one. Unfortunately, guns are so completely tied to the reactionary nature of dealing with race and the complex issues of getting people to come together, the tool of death seems like a better place to start. Where guns, the tools of death (I know, hyperbole…Do deer call it hyperbole?…I’m not anti-hunting…) are concerned, there has got to be a common sense way to control guns without infringing upon the rights of people to own them. Maybe, if gone violence could be slowed, there could be less impassioned, but more productive conversations about how to improve race relations. At the time I am writing this, there seems to be some sort of shooting involving police and citizens (the bullets are being initiated in both directions) every day.

How do we even begin to bridge the divide without resorting to more gun violence? I would suggest that we bring jobs back to America. Hopefully, the jobs could go to areas that really need them and the corporations and unions could figure out a way both sides could make a living so people would not find it necessary to turn to careers so reliant on guns. Dreamy, I know.

Ultimately, all the BS this summer must stop. The police need figure it out. We need you and we need you to be responsible in your use of force. We understand the stress that you are under, but bad cops need to be ratted out by good ones. Law enforcement cannot ask us to “snitch” and not do the same when the “boys in blue” prove not to be worthy of a badge. The people committing crimes against police need to stop it. Go watch The Purge, Escape From New York, or the evening news to see what lawlessness looks like. Is that how you really want to live? I bet not. I realize this is a rant that does little to offer solutions to the problems of guns, gun violence, or the issues of race relations that are so connected to guns.

Something has to change.

There is a scene in one of the Star Wars movies

That I cannot watch.

It’s the one where all of the young Jedi

Are killed by the evil Skywalker.

Today, for me, the movie came to life

Scraping across my nerves in so many ways…

As a parent

Wanting only to hold my children

Both old and young,

As a teacher

So proud of the bravery

Displayed by those striving to save children,

As a citizen (and former gun owner)

Tired of the lame slogan

That “people kill people,”

As a brother

Whose bro might still be alive

Had he not owned a gun.

The emotions brought this cynic

To his knees

Leaving me wondering

Why this was allowed to happen

And begging for it all to end.

For once again

The pundits are waxing of innocence lost

And the gun lobby is calling  for temperance

As a defense against the offensive surely to be taken

On the weapons

That brought such destruction.

I say,

“Damn the amendments

Where civil liberties on gun ownership are concerned

For guns do kill

And today’s evil is not the tyranny that should be protected.”

How many need to die before

The laws are tough enough

Before the manufacturers give in

To a proper moral code

That places lives over profits

Before politicians lead

Without donations from purveyors of guns

Before people take back

A country built on freedoms

That guns are supposed to protect?

Arguments will certainly ensue

That this was a troubled person (SO, HE USED GUNS TO KILL)

Or that he got his weapons legally (SO, HE USED GUNS TO KILL)

Or that most gun owners are responsible (MOST?)

And I am sick of it

These deaths were not foreseeable

And neither will the next ones,

But they are predictable

As guns are so available.

Enough.

I want my brother back.

I want these children back with their families.

I want this school to return.

I want the adults lost back with their families.

I want the guns back as blanks of metal

To be made into something beautiful

With a purpose of hope

And no potential for destruction

I want, I want, I want…