Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.
That’s a common saying. You’re going to hear it a lot for the next few days, thanks to last night’s shooting in Colorado.
But we’ve always had guns. Always. Since we’ve been sentient, we’ve had guns.
When I became a father, I joyfully watched my sons grow up. But I did notice something odd. Whenever a toddler, particularly a male toddler, gets very angry, he screws up his face, raised up his hands, and points his finger angrily at the person he at that moment hates. He’s never heard of guns, and yet there he is, throwing this imaginary energy at his enemy.
I’m willing to bet that prehistoric man, the creature with our brain but with none of our discoveries, had a very fervent wish. There were times when he wished that he could just… do away with the person who bugged the shit out of him. He probably thought this:
I wish I had a magic stick, and that when Thag bugs me, I can just point it at him, press a button, and then Thag falls down dead as a godamm doornail. The next time Thag takes the best haunch of mammoth, I could strike him dead with my stick. The next time Thag bangs the hottie from the other side of the cave that I had my eye on, I’ll kill him with my magic killing stick. No one will want to mess with me when they know I’ve got my Stick of Killing. How would I go about making one of those?
But that caveman didn’t discover metallurgy and chemistry, and so he couldn’t make gunpowder, and thus he had to make do with fantasy. We had to wait a few thousand years until we were smart enough to make the killing stick.
We’ve always had guns; we just didn’t always know how to make them.
So when medical school drop-out James Holmes walked into the premiere of The Dark Knight and started killing people, it was he who did it, not the gun. The gun just made it easier. A lot easier. It allowed him to kill twelve people instead of one. If he didn’t have a way of easily getting a gun, he would have been, like our caveman, left with his idle fantasies. Guns make killing easier. They make people deadly.
If there were other people in the theatre who had weapons and shot back at him, there would have been a firefight. He already had advantages: he used teargas and wore a mask, and he wore a bullet-proof vest. Bullet would have been flying in all directions and more people would have been killed, which happened in Toronto in Scarborough’s Hennesey party that killed two people and wounded dozens, including a baby.
This is what happens when you give the people a Killing Stick. That’s all a gun is – a magical stick that allows you to act out a very human fantasy: to bring death quickly and easily, on a whim.
Take away guns, and you have to work at it. Killing is difficult, and it’s easier just to get along.
I can’t really put it more simply than this: we shouldn’t have universal access to guns. Or we should; you just have to accept that a lot of people will be killed: sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. Innocent People will have to die in order to ensure your right to bear arms. They die every day already.
Is this okay?