After a crazed gunman opened fire on a crowd in Tucson last week, killing 6 and wounding 13, the suspect was wrestled to the ground by two bystanders. One of the two happened to be carrying his own weapon and, as he brandished it above his head, another witness thought he was the shooter and came within seconds of firing at the hero, using yet another gun being legally carried at the event by Arizona citizens.
Apparently, Arizonans carry guns like the rest of us carry cell phones, though we all hope they don’t make the mistake of accidentally trying to make calls with them. I guarantee you, they work even worse than the iPhone 4.
In the wake of the tragedy, most reasonable people wanted to re-open the debate over gun control laws that have allowed such a proliferation of firepower on the streets of America. Predictably, however, conservatives continued to spout the counterintuitive acumen that garnered them so much attention in recent elections.
In the past, they’ve argued that the proper response to the BP oil spill was to “drill, baby, drill.” They want to cut the federal deficit by drastically reducing revenues with tax cut after tax cut. They want to regain a competitive advantage for students in U.S. schools by teaching them creation myths, that the wind is God breathing, that thunder is God bowling, and that science in general is the devil’s doing.
The way this horror could’ve been avoided, argues the National Rifle Association, is that more people should arm themselves for protection. Gun laws need to be even looser, not stricter. The more people that carry weapons, the safer we’ll all be. As if bearing out the validity of this assertion, it was noted that, sadly, neither the nine-year-old girl nor the trio of seventy-something retirees murdered by the obviously deranged killer were packing heat.
Adding their two cents to the argument, the National Association of Bat-Shit Lunatics (NABSL) defended the rights of accused psychopath Jared Loughner to own a 9-mm Glock with a 33-round magazine, claiming “there are alien spacemen — thousands and thousands of rabid, zombified spacemen — who walk among us. Get this giant spider off of me!”
It’s an interesting theory, that if everyone were armed, only the armless would be unprotected. (Maybe they could be taught to shoot using their teeth). But you have to wonder if, deep down inside this twisted logic, there might be a grain of sanity. What if we could conduct all of our daily social interactions at gunpoint? Might this make for a safer America?
Imagine a day that begins when your alarm clock goes off, and you reach to your bedside stand to grab your glasses and your gun. You throw back the sheets and roll over to kiss your spouse good morning. You train your weapon on her as she blinks back the sleep.
“Any chance we’re feeling frisky this morning?” you ask with a twinkle in your eye. With a lightning-fast move, she reaches over for her own gun, aiming it squarely at your chest.
“I don’t think we have time this morning,” she smiles. “Maybe tonight.”
You head off to the bathroom to perform your morning ablutions, remaining armed in case a water snake appears in the toilet. The morning routine continues in an uneventful fashion. You’re careful not to make the mistake you made last week, when you picked up your CZ 75 SP-01 pistol and, thinking it was your electric razor, pointed it squarely at your neck and fired. Fortunately, the bullet only grazed your chin. That reminds you: you need to sign up for some practice time at the range.
Cleaning the weapon and making sure you have a full clip before heading out the door, you’ve lost precious moments and are now running too late to make your own coffee. You stop by the neighborhood Starbucks on the way to work.
“Give me a grande Americano with an extra shot and room,” you demand of the barista.
Already addled by several hours of heavy caffeine consumption, the scraggly young man’s hand is noticeably shaky as he stares at you down the barrel of his Smith & Wesson Sigma.
“That’ll be $4.67,” he says.
Normally, you might grumble at the inflated price, but you remember your barista is armed and dangerous. You’re glad to pay the price and escape with your life.
You arrive at work ten minutes late because traffic was a bear. You thought about squeezing off a few rounds at the jerk who edged ahead of you just before you would’ve made that last traffic light, but there was a school bus right behind him, and you weren’t about to risk a fusillade of return fire from several dozen high-schoolers. Just as you’re settling in at your workstation, your boss asks to see you.
“Just wanted to make sure we’re still on for tomorrow with your performance review,” he says. You notice his weapon sits on the tabletop behind him, and consider your temporary advantage and whether it’s too early in the day to blow his head off. Though these reviews are unpleasant, unproductive and frustrating, your better self reminds you it’s not worth killing someone over.
“Remember, I have my training session with those new hires today,” you tell him.
You head down the hall to the training room. Though standing in front of a class all day can be exhausting, you enjoy the refreshing enthusiasm of people who are glad to have finally landed a job in this tough employment market.
“Good morning, class,” you say.
“Good morning,” they reply. You’re glad to see that everyone has read and understood the company policy that requires them all to be gun-totting, though it’s a little disconcerting to realize how outnumbered you are. You wish you’d brought your semiautomatic, as the increased firepower might’ve leveled the playing field a bit.
The training proceeds briskly and without incident. By mid-afternoon, you’re tired but have a good feeling about this group. They seem to be absorbing the material well, they ask intelligent questions, and they haven’t wounded anybody yet. You call the session to an early end so you can make your 4 p.m. dentist appointment.
Rush hour hasn’t kicked in yet so the drive across town proceeds smoothly. You arrive at the medical building not far from your home and sign in with cheerful receptionist, her dazzling smile almost as bright and shiny as the Walther P22 handgun she holds in one hand while calling up your file with the other.
Within only minutes, you’re in the dentist’s chair. Dr. Anderson has been seeing you and your family for years, and you chat — as best you can with a mouth full of dental instruments — as he looks at your gums.
“I’m starting to see a little recession of the gumline here,” he tells you. “You might want to get a little deeper with the flossing.”
“What did you say?” you ask in your most menacing tone, patting the pocket of your jacket to indicate the presence of your trusty revolver.
“Nothing … uh, nothing … your gums look just fine,” says the dentist. Obviously, he’s left his weapon in his office and is therefore powerless to make his request more strongly.
With the appointment finished, you head on home, eager to spend a relaxing evening with the family. As you pull into the driveway, you notice your son and some of his playmates engaged in a game of touch football on the front lawn. You wave at the kids, inadvertently using your gun hand. A shot rings out, and the neighbor kid slumps to the turf.
“It’s alright, Dad,” your son calls out. “He wasn’t on my team.”
You walk in the door, noticing your wife must’ve gotten home just ahead of you and left the day’s mail on the desk in the foyer. As you leaf through the bills and junk mail, you notice a piece that’s addressed to the family next door. It looks like it might be something important, so you take a few minutes to walk it over to him.
“Hey, Bob, how’s it going?” you ask as he answers the door, an Uzi cradled in his arms. “I think I got some of your mail by accident. Oh yeah, and I just shot your son.”
“Hi, Dave. Thanks for bringing it over,” Bob responds. “And thanks for telling me about Ricky. I’ll get on 911 right away.”
Back at home, you enjoy a nice dinner with your wife and kids. You’re glad Sarah always made it a point for the family to gather like this each evening. She even insists on a tablecloth, flowers and a formal place setting, forks to the right of the plate, knives and spoons to the left, and guns at the top.
After dinner, the kids head to their rooms to do their homework, and you and the wife retire to the den for a quiet evening in front of the TV. You’re finally able to relax after a grueling day, putting your weapon on your lap, next to the remote. You doze off on the Barcalounger, only to awake with a start when the evening news comes on. The anchorman leads with a story about gun control activists holding a vigil for the 732 shooting victims in your town. He speaks earnestly to the camera, carefully aiming his Desert Eagle 50AE at the home audience as he reads from the teleprompter.
You know there are antiquated federal laws against shooting people over the public airwaves, so you’re not scared by his menace. What you are, instead, is angry; angry that he has the nerve to publicize those nutjobs and their peace-loving attitudes. You pick up the phone and call in a threat to the TV station. Moments later, the anchorman looks briefly off camera and dives under his desk. Satisfied that you’ve made your point, you head off to bed.
Sarah appears to already be asleep as you remove your glasses, set the safety on your gun, and lay both on the night stand. You’re just about to doze off when you feel a tap on your shoulder.
“I thought we had an appointment tonight,” she says coyly, holding her Springfield Armory XDM. Defenseless, you succumb to her advances. A loud report resounds through your bedroom.
“Oh, no, darling,” she says, reaching down to the bloodied, bony protuberance near your legs. “I think I shot you in the knee.”
“That’s not my knee,” you smile, and reach for your phone to call an ambulance.