Funerals for Babies

Sometimes when I’m doing mundane things, I think about all the people all over the world who are dying in that exact moment. I can’t help it. There are billions of people on the planet, so statistically there are lots and lots of them dying every second. I think about the “natural” deaths (though I struggle to think of death as natural at all), but mostly about the horrific ones. But while I was sleeping and then sweating my boobs off to Jillian Michaels on Friday morning, not thinking about anything but myself, Adam Lanza was in the midst of brutally murdering 20 children and six adults at an elementary school, after murdering his mother at her home.

I hate guns. I don’t understand gun enthusiasts. I don’t understand describing the love of guns as a “culture.” There are several definitions of that word, of course, but so many of them are incongruous with the idea of “enthusiastically” collecting and/or using a weapon that has only one intended purpose: to destroy.

Culture: that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.

Culture: a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period.

Guns aren’t examples of excellence in the arts. They certainly don’t have anything to do with manners. And I see nothing about guns and their use, in any capacity, as evidence that we are in any way civilized. We are supposed to be evolving, yet it seems the only thing that evolves is our ability to create faster, more efficient killing machines that sell for cheaper and cheaper at Wal-Mart every year. We should be so proud.

I don’t understand people who bring up a recent Chinese tragedy where a madman injured 22 children, using a knife. One key word there is “injured.” Yes, you can do a lot of damage with a knife. But the man in Connecticut Friday KILLED 27 people. In probably a much shorter time than it took the guy with the knife in China. So, please, don’t bring your knife to my gunfight.

If you want to have a gun because you believe so strongly in the Second Amendment, fine. Then go join the military. Or establish a well-regulated militia. The Founding Fathers may have wanted to create a “living” document, but I don’t think they could have foreseen their descendants’ remarkable ability to create such effective and horrible ways to mow down their neighbors. These men were dealing with muskets that could shoot, probably at most, 20 bullets an hour. If Adam Lanza had that sort of capability at Sandy Hook on Friday, he would have killed one person. Maybe. If he had a knife, he might have killed a few. But the thing about a knife is, if you’re wielding one and I run away, you have to chase me in order to do any harm. Meanwhile, the other 20 people with me run the other direction.

For truly effective killing, one needs a gun. Or four.

No one is saying that there aren’t other weapons in the world. But to pretend like they aren’t the most accessible weapon that also happens to provide the most damage would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. Guns have one point: to cause death. I will never accept the idea that this makes them a useful “tool” to have around.

Opponents of gun control say we simply need stricter laws for those who would use a gun in the commission of a crime. I say the mentally unstable go into these situations with zero regard for punishment. Or with the intention of killing themselves. Anyone willing to gun down 20 first graders does not give two shits about your mandatory minimums.

Some say we need to improve everyone’s access to mental healthcare. That is obvious. But the thing is, though the the signs of mental illness were allegedly there in Adam Lanza, and other killers like him, he could have still legally purchased a gun. But let’s say we changed it so that anyone with any sign of mental illness can’t buy a gun. You’re twitchy in the gun store? No gun. Carrying around a copy of Catcher in the Rye? No gun. That still wouldn’t have stopped Adam Lanza. His mother purchased those guns legally. And she died when her son used one of them to shoot her in the face.

It’s hard to blame people for liking guns when they have grown up in a nation where the weapons are so prevalent. We’ve been told they’re okay. Necessary for protection. Fun, even. Video games and movies desensitize us to the violent results of gun use. But even if you haven’t turned to the sort of violence exhibited in Connecticut on Friday, and in many places all over this country, I think it’s important to practice a little introspection. Why are guns so very important to you? What benefit do they truly bring to your life? Can you really say that those alleged benefits outweigh the destruction caused by guns virtually every day? Your ability to gun down a deer is more important than the more than 10,000 gun deaths (not including suicides) in this country every year? You may regard me as some sort of liberal nut. I can’t help that. I’m simply asking you to think about something bigger than yourself.

If there were no guns, then bad people (or mentally ill people, or both) couldn’t get guns. Our boys (because, let’s face it, these mass shootings are perpetrated by young, white males) wouldn’t grow up believing there is a reason to glorify violence because of how “fun” it is. I have fired a gun once in my life. It was in a propmaster’s armory in Rome, Italy, inside a small room with padded walls. I believe I fired a semi-automatic, because one pull of the trigger fired three rounds. Or is that an automatic? I don’t know and I don’t care. I fired blanks. But the power was still there. I felt it. There was a rush. But it was immediately followed by the thought of the damage I could have done if I had turned this weapon, even with it loaded only with blanks, on the man who had handed it to me. I did not enjoy that feeling of power. But I think far too many people in this nation feel exactly the opposite way. Finding a “thrill” in that sort of power, and wanting it again and again, is disturbing to me. So when we talk about mental illness, maybe we need to start right there.

I believe restricting access (whatever watered-down form that would take) is not nearly enough. People will always find a way to get their hands on what they want. I want all the guns thrown in the ocean. Think of the lovely reef they would create. You could be rolling your eyes, but the only solution here is peace. And we will never find it by looking through the scope of a rifle.

On Friday night, I sat on the couch while Merritt sat on the floor, leaning against my leg. All I could do was think about those parents in Connecticut, whose babies were still lying as they fell, in pools of blood on the floor of their first grade classroom. Those parents will never feel the weight of their children again.

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