If you refuse to talk about stricter gun laws, Edwin Lyngar says you’re accepting dead children as the cost of doing business.
I can’t stomach the thought of so many dead children in Connecticut. It’s beyond what I can accept as a human being, but I have no solutions for how to stop it.
As a father of many children, ages 3, 5, 12, 16, and 18, the thought of something like this happening to one of them is more than I can bear. I have so much pity for those parents I will probably never meet, but I feel powerless to change things. Also, like many, I wonder about our pervasive embrace of firearms and gun culture.
I know real, red-blooded Americans with whom even the conversation about guns is totally useless. When I start a conversation about it with people I know, I’m often shouted down before we can even talk about it. It goes like this:
“We have to do something,” I say. “This horror can’t go on.”
“This is just an excuse to take guns away, that’s all the liberals want,” responds a conservative friend.
“I own guns, but I can’t stand the fact that so many children are dead,” I say.
“You can’t stop crazy people from doing things,” my friend responds.
“So do we just have to accept this kind of thing?” I ask.
“Banning guns will do nothing to stop it, you can’t ban guns, and it’s all just a liberal conspiracy anyway,” he says, voice getting louder. “You love it when this happens, so you and your liberal friends can come after my guns.”
This is not an exaggeration. It’s an honest representation of the pro-gun argument. For some, discussing America’s gun culture is tantamount to treason. It is important to note that I am not a “liberal gun grabber.” I own at least 15 firearms, including a 9mm handgun with four high-capacity magazines. It’s the same model I carried while I was in the military, which is why I bought it. I don’t shoot them much, and I keep them all locked in a safe. But I’m not your “typical” anti-gun person.
If we decide we can’t even talk about guns, we have to admit that murdered children don’t really bother us. Let’s just admit it. Whoever refuses to even discuss guns must be willing to say that he or she accepts groups of dead children every so often as the everyday cost of doing business.
We have to also be fine with the fact that people are murdered like dogs on the street every single day, and the most powerful nation on earth is powerless to do anything about it. Every six months we kill more people in America than we lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the terror attacks of 9/11 combined, but we as a country just have to call it straight and admit we collectively don’t give a fuck. I’m not taking a stand here, but let’s please just admit it and stop lying to ourselves.
I grew up in rural Nevada, and I work at the department of wildlife. Everyone I know hunts, shoots, and collects guns of all kinds. I have never been for gun control, but watching dead children lowered into the ground makes me think we could do something, anything, to even slightly reduce the carnage. We don’t have to ban guns or be crazy about it to just try a little to keep guns from those who want to commit mass murder.
Perhaps we can stop shrieking about “liberal gun grabbers” long enough to ask if every single person in society needs a gun. Do mentally ill people need guns? How about the extreme racists, like KKK members, or convicted spouse abusers? Are they all entitled to military assault weapons? How about bizarre loners who talk to themselves and believe they are the reincarnated ghost of Hitler? These people are all entitled to own guns at the moment.
I don’t know what kind of gun control would help, if any. Perhaps America should consider registering guns or mandating some minimal training for firearm owners. I don’t know the answer, and I don’t care which solution we pick. I just don’t think we can go on like this anymore.
It’s incumbent on those who want to defend guns against any regulation whatsoever to admit that they don’t give a fuck how many children are murdered. If guns are more important to society than children, we’ve already made our decision. Let’s at least, for the love of god, be honest with ourselves about it.
Edwin Lyngar is a writer and author living in Reno, Nevada. He graduated from Antioch University in 2010 with his MFA in creative writing and also holds an MA in Writing from the University of Nevada, Reno. His essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Bellingham Review and Ontoligica. He blogs about parenting, family life, and writing at www.edwinlyngar.com and is in the process of finding a home for his first book, a memoir titled Guy Parts.