It’s a Good Thing I Didn’t Have a Gun

I wrote this after the Umpqua CC shootings in Oregon. By the time I finished, Umpqua had moved out of the news cycle, so I decided to wait until the next one. I knew there would be a next one. Now I’m posting it, after Planned Parenthood and San Bernadino. Comments are disabled.


There was a moment in my life when if I had had a gun in hand, I would have killed someone (a particular person who had put me in reasonable fear of my own life). I wanted to kill. I was angry enough to kill. I was completely, utterly, taken over by the desire to murder. There was no logic, thought, fear of consequences, any sort of control over myself.

The feeling was terrifying.

It’s a really good thing I didn’t have a gun.


I’m not going to go into the statistics, the numbers. We’ve all seen them far too often. If there is going to be “safe” gun ownership in this country, the responsible and moderate gunowners, the ones who always unload and keep the ammunition elsewhere, the ones with locked gun cabinets, the ones who never let their small children around guns, the ones who know how to handle guns, need to step up to the plate. They need to be willing to pay the price of gun ownership. Mandatory liability insurance (for sellers and for owners), personal property gun possession taxes, ammunition taxes, and mandatory training need to be part of the equation. Nation-wide registration is a must.

If you are a gun owner and believe that gun owners should not be demonized, prove it. Arguing that the problem is not the gun is wind. Show that you are willing to do your share of civic duty to protect others. Make some sacrifices of your own. Fight the ideologues in the NRA and lawmaking bodies. Reclaim moderation. Don’t stay silent. Demonstrate to your neighbors, fellow citizens, and the rest of the world that it is in fact possible to safely own a device designed to take the life of another human being.

Be willing to pay $500 or $1000 a year per gun or more to show that you are one of the good guys. Because if you don’t, you are complicit in murder.


When the Revolutionary War was fought and later when the Second Amendment was passed, the young United States had no standing army. The only way to fight a war was through private armsowners. That’s why the text of the Second reads as it does: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Without a militia, the early Americans had no defense against the British trying to reclaim the colonies, or any other European power seeking to assert dominance in North America. A well-regulated militia is not necessary to the security of a free state when that state has a massive military budget and infrastructure. There is no Constitutional justification in the present era for private gun ownership.

Certainly the founders had fears of a tyrannical government. But the attempt at a weak central government failed miserably. The Tea Party has had its chance – it was called the Articles of Confederation. It failed. That’s why we have Articles I-III of the Constitution, putting limits on the power of a central government. The Constitution has stood for well over 200 years – with only 27 amendments. News flash: The Constitution works. We don’t need to fear federal tyranny of the sort that only weapons can resist.


Guns for hunting? Sure, why not, especially if you actually eat what you kill. But you don’t need an automatic weapon to take out a deer. And you don’t need to keep your hunting equipment loaded at home.

Guns for target practice? Sure, why not. But you don’t need automatic weapons to prove your skill at sharpshooting, and you don’t need to keep your equipment loaded at home.

Guns for self-defense? Tell me your plan for what to do when you hear the strange noise in the middle of the night and are tired and scared. Tell me how you’re going to control your adrenaline and not make a mistake. Tell me how well you think when you’re in actual fear of your life. Tell me how you’re going to shoot well enough to disable the intruder without committing homicide yourself. Because you don’t want to be a murderer, do you?

Do you?


Because at the end, that’s what it’s about. A gun is designed to take a life.

A gun is designed to take a life.

A gun is designed to take a life.


Once, if I had had a gun and known how to use it, I would have killed someone. I probably would have gotten off on a manslaughter charge, or even been acquitted entirely on grounds of justifiable homicide. I was 14, it might not even have stayed on my record.

When I think about that moment decades later, it still scares me and makes me sick. I can only imagine how it would have destroyed me as a human being if I had actually been able to kill instead of just wish for it. The knowledge that I had the internal capacity to kill was and is more frightening than the actual threat to my life.

Are you really really really sure you can be trusted with a gun?


A gun is designed to take a life.