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.
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.