American Culture

Societal insanity v. a safer world


Part 1. 2015

In 1997 I moved from western Massachusetts to Maine. Several people asked me, “Are you going to get a gun?” I laughed. I thought this was an odd question.

When I left Maine to work in Alaska, many people told me, “You better get a gun.” I guess Alaska is a scary place relative to Maine.

After that summer in Alaska, I spent the winter in Utah. I went back to Alaska the next summer and then worked in Wyoming the following winter. I moved to Montana. Each step along the way, people said the same thing, “ You better start packin’.”

I left Montana and moved to eastern Washington State. My boyfriend at the time gave me his shotgun. It remained in the back corner of a closet until we broke up and he asked me to return it.

Now, I am leaving Washington. I bought a camper for the bed of my pick-up and will spend a few months, maybe years, cruising around to the many places I haven’t had time to visit during other busy travels. And, once again, people started asking me if I have a gun or if I am going to get one.

I have never owned a gun. I used guns for clay pigeon shooting on occasion, I carried one as a mandatory safety precaution in polar bear country, I shot at woodchucks as a teenager.

How many school shootings, mass shootings, random shootings have there been in the past few years? How many people were killed in the U.S. already this year by a gun, self-inflicted, accidental, or intended?

I’m not anti-gun. I don’t think gun control will resolve the insanity of our society.

I may lead a charmed life.

I choose to step into the world unarmed. I believe that adding a gun to my travel gear will not make me safer.

Rather, I believe that choosing not to carry a gun will make the world safer.

Part 2. Fast forward, 2018

I wrote this piece a few years ago and decided to dust it off for another round out in the world. Many will think my view simplistic or naïve, but it hasn’t changed in these last years.

Maybe I am asking the wrong question. Not, “Where will it end?” No, that seems impossible. There can always be an escalation with a newer model weapon or higher capacity magazine or any number of modifications and improvements.

The question, then, is, “Where does it begin?” Once again, I choose to start the only place I can.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.” Lao-tzu

3 replies »

  1. What has changed in our society that we get these kinds of mass shootings.

    What we used to have was the common one in other countries, the intra family tragedy.

    But oddly those have dropped out as a new kind rose almost one for one.

    Instead of pistols and shotguns, they use pistols and semi-auto rifles using varmint sized ammo, and choose places marked out as containing no fire arms.

    The actual accident rate seems to be dropping, while the suicide rate USING firearms goes up. Over the long haul the total rate seems to stay stable.

    The CDC has gotten in trouble Again.. for not publishing defense use figures in one of their major surveys.

    I have carried a knife since 18 and currently daily carry a hand gun, I have had temper-tantrums carrying and so has my wife.. there is I reason for that red in her hair.

    But ours must be terribly pale imitations of “Real” persons temper-tantrums since we never remember it is supposed to make us murderous.

    • Temper tantrums are rarely premeditated. Mass shootings take planning and commitment, long-term instability manifested as a rampage rather than momentary rage.

      If someone intends to hurt me, they will do so. In my mind, at least I won’t be killed with my own gun.

      • Well it is less likely you would be struck by mine since I would stop shooting either when I dead or the active shooter was down.. active shooters are traditionally going to keep shooting as long as they have ammo.