Depressingly Ordinary

Mom was far from irresponsible!
Her purse was well designed,
With a pocket for a handgun,
So they said.

Yes, the pistol was well hidden,
“Zippered pouch” means “out of mind”
But her two-year-old unzippered;
Now Mom’s dead.

She was careful and well-practiced,
And her husband was as well
They were safer with their handguns
Than without.

See, a handgun is inanimate
As anyone can tell
So a toddler’s worth, is what this
Is about.

It’s ok to have a handgun—
If you don’t, you’re tempting fate!—
Cos the cops might come too slow
To your complaint…

Mix a toddler and a handgun,
Then sit back a while and wait…
We can see which one’s important
And which ain’t.

I have nothing new to tell you about the shooting. It’s been all over the news, and as usual all over the comments sections. Also as usual, nothing about the story seems to be changing any minds, as every gun-death story seems to act like a Rorschach ink blot, with each commenter seeing confirmation of their particular argument. By all accounts, the whole family were responsible gun owners (except to commenters who have the benefit of hindsight), trained and practiced, carrying handguns not out of fear or paranoia, but simply because it was what people do.

What a horrible way to end the year. And what a horrible way to begin it–early this morning, another well-trained and practiced, responsible (one would assume, anyway–he is acting police chief of Peachtree City in Georgia) gun owner… called 911 to report that he had accidentally shot his wife. Twice. With his service weapon. At last report, she is in critical condition.

In both of these tragic cases, as in so many others (I lost a friend to an accident with his rifle), these were responsible gun owners up to the point when everything went horribly wrong.


  1. machintelligence says

    One of the problems with having guns around all of the time is that one can become complacent about how dangerous they can be. I like guns and have owned several dozen during my life. Still, I never felt the need to carry one except when hunting, and they remain in a locked cabinet, separate from the ammunition. When there are children around, guns need to be under lock and key at all times. My gun cabinet was wired to the burglar alarm system and a separate key (which only I had) was needed to disarm the alarm. Neither of my adult children is interested in firearms, so I will probably sell them off someday.

  2. says


    By all accounts, the whole family were responsible gun owners (except to commenters who have the benefit of hindsight), trained and practiced, carrying handguns not out of fear or paranoia, but simply because it was what people do.

    Yeah, but *why* is it something that people do? What did she feel the need to carry a gun around for? She had to have had a reason. She and her husband could very well have been trained and practiced and *still* owned their guns out of fear or paranoia.

  3. Cuttlefish says

    Tony–Way back when, my family owned guns, and I was given shooting lessons while still in grade school. My parents were NRA members until the NRA became mostly a lobbying group; we had rifles because… well, because we had them. We did not hunt; most of the year, we did not shoot them at all (we had a rifle range in Michigan as part of a camp, but that had formerly been a hunters’ camp, and was not any longer. We never felt fear of neighbors, or of strangers, or for that matter of bears (my mom chased a bear off our porch with a broom, never once thinking to grab a firearm). But we had guns. Because we did.

    We no longer have guns. My folks asked my generation which ones we wanted–there were genuine antiques, some WWII rifles, and some .22’s with sentimental value. None of us wanted anything to do with them. I can’t speak for the rest, but I remember two things that sealed my opinion–first, I remember how my parents stored rifles in one place, bolts in another and ammo in a third, and trusted that the lessons we had learned about rifle safety made us safe. But kids (me and my siblings, anyway) are smart enough to know where everything is hidden, and dumb enough to dig them all out while the parents are gone, just because it is so cool to load up a WWII rifle with half a dozen shells and work the bolt to see them fly out the top. Yes, one small squeeze on the trigger and I’d have put a hole through our house and into the next. It didn’t happen, but it could have. I know for a fact that kids are too smart and too dumb to trust any safe storage.

    Second, of course, is my friend who killed himself. Put first and second together, and you could not pay me enough to keep guns in my house, even in a safe, even with separate safes for ammo. Kids are too smart and too dumb.

    But before those experiences? Or, for others… Without those experiences? There is no reason *not* to have a gun, just as there is no reason not to … I dunno, wear a hat, or drive a Ford, or do any number of things that some people do while others do not.

    For you and me, I agree wholeheartedly, we would need a reason (and a good one) to carry a gun. (An acquaintance of mine was saved from being raped–the man who saved her was a drunk with a handgun. She has been a fierce advocate of gun ownership ever since. There is nothing I could say that would overturn her personal experience. I wish there were.) But never underestimate the power of the default situation. Some cultures just have guns. Not from fear, not from paranoia, just from tradition. Or inertia. Or the sheer dumb luck of not having it all go horribly wrong in a heartbeat.

    And damn, as much as I think they are wrong, if what it takes to change their minds is to have it all go horribly wrong in a heartbeat, then I frankly hope they never have to face that. And I am probably wrong in hoping that, because *somebody* is going to have it all go horribly wrong.

    Tl;dr–you are right, but they are understandable.

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