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America's Gun Mess

Newtown Versus Chitown

Ironically, post-Sandy Hook gun hysteria, promulgated almost entirely by the NRA, has fostered a needless gold rush on guns and ammo. Everybody from the paper boy to great grandma is strapping up, arming themselves with everything from .22’s to assault weapons. Gun stores routinely report running out of ammunition as gun owners, paranoid about President Obama’s proposed (and now failed) gun legislation (but not taking the time to actually read it) horde ammunition, turning garages in quiet neighborhoods and dense population areas into virtual ammo dumps which could have tragic consequences in the event of a fire or lightning strike. It’s been Gun Nut Fever, all day, every day, since Sandy Hook, as people who’d never even considered carrying a gun before are now rushing to buy one out of fear of that constitutional right being taken away.

Nobody needs to carry a gun. People usually carry guns because they fear other people with guns. Everybody strapping up, turning the nation into the Wild, Wild West, is just asking for wholesale tragedy. There is a part of me that is absolutely convinced my life will end when the paranoid, racist white woman down the street, who spends virtually all of her time broiling over invented wrongs perpetrated by me and who interprets every single, solitary thing I do (up to and including my smiling and waving to her) as somehow evil or threatening, pulls out her legally purchased pistol and shoots me as I pass her house on my way to Walmart. And the Sheriff will believe her story that I, minding my own business and passing her in my own car, was somehow a threat to her. This is what we are in for, with these (mostly) white people now rushing to buy guns in fear that the president is about to take that right away.

I’m worried about the dentists, the receptionists with pistols who can’t tell the difference between me and Chief Keef. I’m afraid of people arming themselves without educating themselves about the culture they are moving through. I’m worried about legalized open warfare on young black males, virtually all of whom look suspicious to white people who have no black friends whose knowledge of us comes from episodes of Oz and The Wire (note Trayvon Martin).

The real problem we should be solving is the dumping of an unimaginable number of handguns in urban areas like Chicago. There’s not a word about this in the current legislation. Where are these guns coming from? It seems like every pre-teen on Chicago’s streets is packing something, usually cheap, crappy handguns they bought off the street. My guess is the president could even get the NRA to saddle up to put a stop to that. Thirteen-year old gang bangers are not registering their handguns or applying for permits. They are not submitting to background or psychological checks. Worse, these kids don’t go to the range, are not trained in handgun safety. They live on the razor edge of volatile teen emotions agitated further by hormonal swings and drug use. They do what they see on TV and in violent games like Grand Theft Auto: they pull their strap and start blasting. They can’t aim, their sights are misaligned (if they use them at all), and they’re just as likely to put their own eye out with the ejecting shell as they are to actually hit who they are aiming for.

Gun violence in Chicago is surely at the forefront of the president’s mind. Politically, he cannot bemoan the sad truth that the twenty-six deaths in Newtown are worth far more than the over 500 deaths in Chicago, 80% of whose victims were African American. Little black kids are murdered on those streets every day, but America’s outrage was not mustered until little white children were murdered by a deranged individual. Addressing the mental health side: my perception is that a great many of Chicago African American youth are deranged individuals, scarred by things they’ve seen or experienced. For every kid arrested for gun violence, I’m betting there are ten or more who’ve managed to escape, for the moment, police attention. Many of these kids are emotionally scarred, living with the consequence of having committed or participated in or witnessed some grievous act of violence. Committing or witnessing a murder is a huge weight for a twelve-year old to carry around with them. In this new debate over guns and mental health issues, I’ve not heard anyone taking about that, about an entire generation of African American males emotionally devastated at so young an age. These boys cannot talk about their experiences or their trauma without fearing arrest by police or retribution by the neighborhood. So they just swallow it, the damage growing like a tumor as these young boys become dangerous and dysfunctional young men.

These people are the problem. These are the people to worry about, for their sake and for ours: irrational, irresponsible, or immature people with fluid, unrestricted and routine access to guns (see sidebar). These are the individuals middle-class Americans and soccer moms are now arming up against: home invaders, car jackers, street thugs.

The newly-armed dentists, soccer moms and, yes, school teachers wandering the streets with loaded pistols are another huge danger. Many of these people have spent most of their life insulated out in the ‘burbs. Few have ever had a street fight. Not hair-pulling “cry Uncle,” but lose-your-life struggle. These people are prone to panic, and God only knows what they will actually do in a real life-or-death situation. Additionally, many of these people will sway toward the George Zimmerman mentality of inventing a problem where none exists. In my personal experience, many of these types of people cannot tell a gang banger from an ordinary black teen minding his own business. Looking feral and dangerous, like gangbangers, is a universal dress code among urban youth of varying ethnicities, including whites. You really have to know the culture and, yes, the street, in order to tell who’s banging and who’s a civilian. The kids all know and conduct themselves in accordance to tribal rules few outsiders could possibly understand. To the uneducated, like this George Zimmerman idiot, a thug is a thug is a thug or, more honestly, a nigger is a nigger. Zimmerman got it wrong. Some soccer mom is going to get it wrong. Some nervous secretary in an express elevator is going to get it wrong. I’m not all that worried about the gangbangers, I’m worried about the dentists, the receptionists with pistols who can’t tell the difference between me and Chief Keef. I’m afraid of people arming themselves without educating themselves about the culture they are moving through. I am persuaded I have a higher likelihood of being shot by some nervous secretary than some gangbanger. In fact, the gangbanger would probably give me a lift to the hospital.

Idiots: Chief Keef (right) is a major role model to urban teens.


In this gun debate, nobody’s being honest. No one is telling the simple truth. I would guess for 99.9% of civilian gun owners, guns are toys. Toys. Period. That’s why they own more than one. More than several. Why they collect them, compare them. Just holding a gun in your hand spikes your pulse rate a little. They’re sexy. You not only one to own them, you want to show them off. If we could, we’d just walk around all day with pistols strapped on, an AR-15 slung over our shoulder. Ironically, most of these people really don’t actually want to hurt anybody, and they themselves are typically not all that afraid of being hurt. Despite all the rhetoric and yelling, fairly little of any of this has anything to do with self-defense or home protection, or warding off the government or what have you. Guns are cool. Why? Because we saw them on TV. Because few action films are going to open big without a poster of a movie star brandishing a gun. Which huge gun will Schwarzenegger have this time?

It’s not an honest debate. Liberals like to denigrate gun enthusiasts as “gun nuts,” implying some level of mental instability or deficiency. The truth is, the main difference between a so-called “gun nut” and the average Joe is largely perception. Most men love guns. The “gun nuts” are just being honest about it. Even people who don’t own an actual gun love guns. How do I know? I can read the box office grosses. Movies with guns outperform movies without guns. Video games with violence and mayhem trounce hopping bullfrog games and such. Many if not most of the non-gun owners would never think of actually hurting someone, but our culture is inclined to violence. We worship violence, deify violence. Ralph Cramden, routinely threatening his beloved Alice with a clenched fist. Why is that funny? Scapegoating the good ol’ boys who make no secret of their affection for their iron and steel is entirely hypocritical. We all love guns, even those of us who don’t own one or particularly want or need one.

This is what concerns me most about the gold rush of people now arming themselves around the country because they’re afraid Barack Obama and Joe Biden are going to somehow rescind the Second Amendment. Gun enthusiasts are usually better informed, better educated, and, frankly, better shots, than the accountants and taxi drivers now rushing to the gun stores. The “gun nuts” are, in fact, safer than the nervous soccer moms now packing in their fanny packs. The next level of tragedy will be the innocent shoppers and children caught in the crossfire between a convenience store owner, a hold-up crew, and the newly-armed, inexperienced, untrained nervous shoppers who jam their eyes shut as they squeeze off round after round, praying they hit something. This is where things are heading. More guns is not the answer.

A Pathetic Campaign: Why should we have to beg idiots to stop shooting?

Would Jesus Carry?

I’ve never had peace about the notion of Christians carrying guns. The biblical model is Jesus was unarmed. It is unclear if His disciples routinely carried weapons, but scripture tells us Peter, whom Jesus anointed as the first pastor, “Upon this rock, I will build my church…” [Matthew 16:18] carried a sword, as he cut off a centurion’s ear when the Romans came to arrest Jesus [John 18:10]. Beyond Jesus’ admonition to turn the other cheek [Luke 6:29] and that those who live by the sword will die by it [Matt 26:52], there seems to be no specific prohibition against weapons while clearly advocating peace and non-violence as our preferred course in life. Our key verse, listed top of page one, comes from the Last Supper, where Jesus reverses His earlier teaching:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”

This seems to suggest Jesus advocated Christians carrying weapons to defend themselves, but it doesn’t. Read the context:

“It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors;’ and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

Jesus is clearly speaking prophetically, about completing His role in fulfilling Old Testament scripture. In other words, these instructions were for a specific purpose and time. Verse 38:

The disciples said, "”See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied.

Enough for what? To fight off a full complement of Roman centurions? If Jesus’ intent, in this passage, was for His disciples to fight for Him, why admonish Peter for cutting off the centurion’s ear? Matthew 26:52-54:

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

The point of Jesus’ arming the disciples was largely cosmetic, that they may be “numbered with the transgressors.” There is no record of Jesus carrying a weapon of any kind or advocating violence or self-defense. To the contrary, the more consistent teaching by Christ is peace and love.

Right-wing “Christian” extremists who violently oppose abortion, to the point of wreaking violence upon abortion doctors, while strongly advocating the death penalty, are simply lost. These are mostly conservative whites (though many blacks are caught up in this as well) practicing a kind of idolatry that claims Christian theology while rejecting Christ’s message. Christians should oppose murder of any kind. Anybody running around still trying to sell the nonsense that President Obama is Muslim while making excuses for voting for a Mormon is not a Christian. These are deceived people practicing idolatry. This is the demographic most virulently defensive of the “right to bear arms,” the people “clinging to their guns and religion,” as the president so rightly characterized them. Jesus was never, ever, about religion but about relationship. The hateful, abusive, mean-spirited, racial epitaph-spewing, violence-threatening, gun-toting bigots are not, under any circumstances, Christians. People who blow up abortion clinics demonstrably do not know Christ.

Most of these lunatics are armed. A good percentage of this demographic casts a suspicious eye toward every black person passing them in a store or on the street. Mainstream i.e. White America, able to sleep peaceably through year after year of mass murder in the hundreds on the urban streets of cities like Pittsburgh and Chicago, has been finally awakened from her slumber by the tragic and shocking deaths of 26 innocents in Newtown. Sadly, our most violently blighted urban communities would actually celebrate a mere 26 innocent deaths as compared to the several hundred these places suffer year after year, only to be ignored. And now this mad rush of people who really should not be carrying guns is likely making the situation much worse, with now tens of thousands of potential Trayvon Martins on the horizon as nervous and inexperienced civilians suddenly see themselves as Wyatt Earp.

Ironically, the gunmen making the headlines are, more often than not, deranged young white males, men these new gun-toters would pass on the street without taking a second look. But it will be young black males who will, increasingly, have targets painted on their backs.

Christopher J. Priest
27 January 2013  (Original)
12 April 2013  (Updated, Page One)

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