Would you be willing to:
- Sip hot chocolate with your toddler at Starbucks while a fellow patron openly displays a gun at the table next to you?
- Attend a church service with your entire family knowing that the fellow parishioner sitting next to you has a handgun tucked in his belt?
- Stand in line at a bank to make a deposit as two men enter with baseball hats on and what appear to be guns in their pockets?
- Board a crowded bus with your newborn child with upwards of 5 other passengers carrying concealed weapons?
Well, let's think about that, shall we?
"Sip hot chocolate with your toddler at Starbucks while a fellow patron openly displays a gun at the table next to you?"
Absolutely not! I don't pay Starbucks prices.
"Attend a church service with your entire family knowing that the fellow parishioner sitting next to you has a handgun tucked in his belt?"Heck no! I don't go to church, either. (No disrespect to my Christian friends, but you don't go to your local mosque for the same reason I don't go to church.) I think I'm doing pretty well on this quiz.
"Stand in line at a bank to make a deposit as two men enter with baseball hats on and what appear to be guns in their pockets?"
Aha! A place I go. Let's see, I'm at the bank, and two guys have what appear to be guns in their pockets . . . how am I figuring that? Are their pockets bulging in the shape of guns?
"Board a crowded bus with your newborn child with upwards of 5 other passengers carrying concealed weapons?"
OK, I admit it, I don't want to ride a crowded bus with a newborn. I get what they're after, here, of course. I'm supposed to be horrified at these scenarios, right? But there's something they left out: nobody is doing anything threatening or scary with these guns. There's no threat. I'm not frightened of some guy peacefully sipping his coffee, nor do I particularly care whether a couple of guys want to walk into a bank. I don't mind if five guys want to sit on a bus, either, and since the scenario doesn't say they're doing anything wrong . . . . or even giving an indication that they might do something wrong later . . . . I guess I'm missing the part where I decided that they're a threat. Actually, the one on the bus is particularly puzzling, since it specifies that their weapons are concealed. I'm supposed to be frightened of their guns without even knowing they're there? That's asking rather a lot.
Of course, that's not the question I'm supposed to be asking. What they're really hoping for here is the kind of reader who will pick up on their implied fear and adopt it as his own. They'd like the reader to realize, on some level, that the people in their examples are to be feared and hated because they possess those guns--the reader should make the logical leap that a person behaving normally with a weapon in his possession is no longer acting normally. You really have to wonder how they would feel about eating lunch at McDonald's next to a police officer with a Glock on his hip.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, these scenarios are already perfectly legal in many parts of the United States and are occurring with more frequency and bravado. Next time you take your child on an outing with you, think about how many people within earshot may be carrying a gun as you wait in line at the aquarium, sit in a theater watching a movie, or shop at the local grocery store.
Yes, think about. And while you're at it, check yourself for gunshot wounds. Then listen carefully for the screams of the wounded and dying. Look around and see if you can spot the bullet holes in the aquarium and the theater.
No? None of those things are happening around you? But if the guns cause violence, and you're in a room with people with guns, then clearly there must gun violence going on . . . . unless someone is lying to you.