The Right to Bear Arms

What occurred in Connecticut was absolute pandemonium. The scenes were completely grizzly and judging from the comments it has polarised the gun debate. The tragedy is simply unbearable to read about…

What? Why aren’t you laughing? Isn’t this what you wanted? The right to bear firearms? Didn’t people think that this was one of the most important parts of the constitution even when freedom was eroded ironically under the name of Freedom ®. Where free speech, free expression, privacy and the right to not get tortured was considered LESS important than this. Then surely the deaths, wounds and trauma for all involved must be one giant fucking joke. Because where I come from the right to not get shot is a bigger right than the right to own a piece of metal that hurls other bits of metals really hard at people we don’t like and want to go away on a permanent basis. Are you not satisfied?

I won’t be covering it, I have nothing to say on this. I was going to until I got a message from an old friend…

I spent a lot of time travelling across the USA and met a lot of amazing people. I know I joke about silly Americans but honestly the biggest problem Americans have is that they don’t realise where they live in and never really appreciate what they have. The USA is the only place I have been to where you can go out to the Grand Canyon and then go sit in an IMAX theatre which shows you stunning views of the canyon outside… To me that’s a kind of madness! To travel hours to go sit in a cinema. I naturally went to see what the show was about and I don’t think I have ever been as confused as I was at that point. It’s like going to a football match and then watching only the screens at the food stalls. Most of the people who worked there couldn’t tell me where I could find what I wanted. I wanted to hike to the bottom of the canyon and no one knew where the trail was. I luckily ran into someone who was going to drop off some hikers there so I managed to hitch a lift. By contrast outside our landmarks in the UK you would be festooned with hike and supply stores appropriate to the event. Ben Nevis is by a town called Fort William and the entire town is nuts for hiking. Same for Mount Snowdon and the towns surrounding it… I was thoroughly perplexed.

But maybe that was just the norm, there are some people who appreciate where they live. I met one such person while hiking the Appalachian trail (not the whole thing!). I read Bill Bryson and hiking and football are the two (well were the two) closest things I had to a religion. Not the walking but the sites, I was happy if I walked 6 miles and spent most of my day dangling my feet into a river reading than I was pounding up hills.

We walked for 5 days together because she said that no one should walk alone. I joked that she should be a Liverpool fan and taught her the words to it along with a few more racy numbers of the terraces. Wherever we stopped we would scam the people who drove with tales of daring and pose for photographs in the hope we could bum a crafty drink or some food from tourists. After day 5 I found out she was only supposed to walk 3 days, she stayed 2 more to give me company because of what she said.

I love America… even if you guys are sometimes fucking nutters.

She lived and worked in Newtown. She married her high school sweetheart and put me up with her family and friends when I walked with her. She kept in touch, and she doesn’t know I blog here because you know… Pseudonyms. And I never let on that I am super non-religious. Religion played a deep role in her life and I don’t think she would appreciate my atheism. But that’s her failing and isn’t important in the context of this tale. I can chose to lie about my faith if it means keeping someone who wanted to do something nice happy. Principles are great but principles don’t get me free beers and hamburgers.

Her daughter was born a few years ago. We didn’t keep in touch regularly but every few months she would get the urge to call and I would call back.

I received word that her daughter was in that class.

And so I won’t say anything. Because there is nothing I can say that will be appropriate or right or fair to anyone. Because there is nothing you can EVER say. You don’t say anything. You listen because that’s all we should do and it’s all we can do that’s productive. And what is there to say anyway? Guns kill people? That is the sole fucking purpose of owning a handgun. It’s to kill someone you think is a wanker for various reasons. Some better than the others.

Every day I walk through the hell of patients who suffer because they don’t have anything. Anything! We are talking “absolutely fuck all” and I hope that no one ever has to suffer this pain. I saw the worst of humanity and I see humanity trying to be it’s best and often succeeding.

I can watch a child have his eye removed because maggots ate the inside of his face till they damaged the eye. I can say “He had this because of a lack of food, which meant neither he nor his mother was strong enough to keep flies away which meant his immune system was shot, which meant the flies could land on him and lay their eggs”. I can see the rationale behind female infanticide and I know why sati was so common and why it was done. And through it all I appreciated the changes Indians made to improve and fight the underlying causes of these things. But there is no reason to ever kill innocent children and I cannot see why this man’s anger was aimed at children who had nothing to do with anything.

This? I have been on the phone for the past two hours. I have spent nearly a month’s spending money on calls and will probably spend another more… And all I can think of is what could cause a man to have so much hate while living in a paradise. That he could kill so many kids. What malice and hatred could go through such a human as to kill anyone let alone those who cannot even comprehend the nature of such a crime.

After spending all night talking to my friend, she puts me on with the surgeon because she wants my opinion. I think she just wanted me to hear it and tell her it will be okay. I indulged in her wish.

Her daughter had to receive 5 pints of packed blood, 3 pints of spacer and 1 of platelets to make up for the massive blood loss. In addition she has lost the lower lobe of her right lung a section of her small intestine and liver and required vascular repair. She is on a  positive pressure airway to protect against brain damage. She also has muscular damage to her leg. If she was in India they would amputate because even a peg leg would have better function because the soft tissue damage is so extensive due to the lack of thickness of a 5 year old’s leg (yeah! Hurray for soft point bullets! India’s worst piece of ingenuity!) but neural graft surgery and internal fixation of muscles is much more commonly available in the USA so she will walk.

But she may never run or jump again.

I have spent the past 9 hours hoping for good news and passed out from exhaustion. And I woke up to sort of good news. I spoke to her mum who wanted to know what it was like re-learning to walk and how to deal with pain and the like. So it looks like there may be a happier ending after all.

Doctors have worked 9 hours straight to save her and from what her mum said that one of the parents whose kid passed away donated the blood vessel grafts so that other kids may live. Physiotherapists will need to work 9 more months. But this kid will have to live a lifetime with this. There are hundreds of others who will have to live with the events of today. Events that no child should ever have to live through.

What else can I say? We take the positive from events like this. There are stories of teachers who bravely barricaded doors and shielded the students inside with their own bodies, or who told kids that the noises are just hammering to keep them calm, or who sat trying to figure out ways to sneak as many kids out of the school or many who were prepared to fight an armed gunman with anything that came to hand or of kids who wrote farewell messages to their parents or who tried to protect each other. And I still have nothing to say because there is nothing that needs to be said. If you don’t realise that the right to not get shot is more important than the right to shoot people then nothing I say will ever make sense to you. If you have lost someone in this tragedy then nothing I say will ever make sense in a tragedy like this. If you think guns are the cause of this then nothing I say will add to your stance. There is nothing I can say… If you chose to utilise a tragedy such as this to flog your sky wizard of choice then I have things to say but I won’t out of the fact that nothing I can say will express the contempt for your stupidity that I feel. Nothing can encompass the scale of how terrible you are at being a human being with such lofty ideals as compassion, empathy and love. I would call you a vulture but vultures perform a vital role in the ecosystem….

So I won’t say anything, except that it’s a terrible day for rain.


  1. badgersdaughter says

    Thank you for being there for your friend; your informed and passionate support is so valuable. I just got the strong urge to give you and your friend hugs and tell you that, yes, you aren’t alone… at least if the sympathy of an Internet stranger is company for you.

    If it matters, yes, I used to be part of the “gun culture” and am now out of it, and this is the last push toward my understanding why limiting everyone’s access to guns is good for society. I’m disgusted and sad about the shooting… about the stupid religious and political pricks using it as a football… about the fact that a debate over the stigma of mental illness even needs to be held… about my past responsibility for contributing to a culture in which a teacher would find it thinkable to buy three combat weapons and keep them available enough that her troubled son could take and use them to kill with. I’m sorry for that and for our troubled, vicious country.

  2. badgersdaughter says

    Latest reports are that they are registered to her, Avicenna. Take it with the usual grain of salt, since media reports are changing fast, but yes, nobody is saying he actually ran out and bought anything on the spur of the moment.

  3. Beatrice says

    I don’t know what to say, your post made me cry. I’m so sorry about your friend’s daughter and I’m relieved that at least she is alive and will most probably be able to recover (physically, I can’t even speculate what kind of emotional trauma she will have to live with after going through this horror).

  4. Timothy Greene says

    School homicides have fallen steadily over the past decades. Has the number of guns in America fallen? Of course not. Violent crimes in the nation’s schools (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault have also fallen. These two trends follow along with the general population. Source: National Center for Education Statistics and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  5. Bob says

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s daughter. I’m sure your friend appreciates your support.
    There is nothing that can justify an attack like this. It is simply cowardly, as well as unthinkable, to go after schoolchildren.
    I hope that the daughter will make as full a recovery as possible.

  6. davidct says

    Your post confirmed some of my thoughts. Reports were that the weapon was a .223 which is designed to kill or disable human beings. If a person is shot with such a bullet they are killed or horribly wounded. It is not good for deer hunting since it ruins the meat. In the army I trained with such a weapon. It is easy to use and effortless to fire. All the effort in the world cannot undo the damage. This being the land of the “free” I have to live with the fact that there are a lot of these things out there. This does not make me feel more secure.

  7. bubba707 says

    I’ve said many times over the years that gun laws in the US are a horror show. They vary greatly not only from State to State but locality to locality. What needs to be done is trash can the whole mess and institute a uniform set of laws nationally that make rational sense. Of course, it’ll never be done and is just wishful thinking on my part. Our country is far too psychotic to do anything rational.

  8. thebookofdave says

    I’m still having a difficult time assimilating the shock of the horrible events that just happened. I feel like a jerk that my only contribution is to be your homophone coach of the day.

    Grizzly is a species of brown bear. You probably meant grisly instead.

  9. Lorne says

    Avicenna said: “Are the guns his mother’s or his?”

    What has that got to do with what happened?

  10. EllenBeth Wachs says

    “If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns”

    As if we haven’t heard this a thousand times? Try harder.

  11. bradleybetts says

    Shit Avi, that choked me up a bit. It’s great that you’re there for your friend; you’re a decent bloke.

    @ TimothyGreene and MathewsLaboratory;

    Shut up. You are literally everything that is wrong with humanity. Just shut up. Stop punting your political viewpoint and either show some compassion or fuck off.

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