[An] Aurora parent… who has also bought a [bulletproof] Caballero rucksack for his three-year-old son, says he is “indifferent” on the issue. “I can understand both sides,” he explains. “People kill people and I don’t believe guns are as big an issue as some are making it.”
— The Guardian
I pride myself on being open-minded and able to view an issue from all sides. Gay marriage, universal healthcare, expanded rights for undocumented immigrants: I see the pros and cons with equal clarity. And though I love my young child more than anything in the world, I also certainly understand why someone would want to kill him with a gun.
When I hug my baby boy, I feel a fullness in my heart that nothing—not professional achievement, not drugs, not sex—has ever come close to bringing, and I simultaneously comprehend the urge a deranged individual might have for murdering him in a mass shooting with readily available weapons, the imagining of which leaves me basically apathetic.
You look at Timmy’s preschool classmates and you see so much hope and innocence in their eyes, a brightness that you can rationally appreciate being extinguished through a sudden act of violence that might have otherwise been curbed through common-sense laws. Do I want these laws passed? No way; far be it from me to tell another person with ongoing mental-health concerns what he can or can’t do to my defenseless son in a premeditated manner made possible only with the support of our country’s potent gun lobby that tells spineless senators what they can or can’t do. That’s not the kind of country I want my child to die in because he just happened to be at the wrong public event or school or bedroom at the wrong time.
Do people kill people? Yes… but, of course, it helps if they have a gun. So, guns kill people? Well, obviously, except you could also argue that bullets do the actual killing. Therefore, bullets kill people? Nope—it’s the Newtonian concept of force, or mass times acceleration, as guns propel armor-piercing bullets at high velocity with the capacity to tear through three-year-old human flesh like tinfoil. Yet force itself can’t kill anyone without a gun and a bullet, unless you throw a gun really hard at someone’s head. You need to have a dialectical, Socratic mind to appreciate the nuances of this issue, which also isn’t an issue. And I do fully support a ban on throwing guns really hard at people’s heads. In most cases.
It’s not like I’m not taking precautions. This week, I’m outfitting my kid with a bulletproof vest, a riot-squad helmet, and a ballistic shield. Here’s an Instagram; isn’t he absolutely adorable? Next week, though, I’m making him wear a shirt with a bull’s-eye on it, an American-flag bandanna, and twenty-pound ankle weights. To be honest, it makes him look kind of homely. I’m not one of those parents who think his child is always the cutest thing in the world, or is a sentient being constantly deserving basic protection against tools designed for disciplined soldiers which are somehow purchasable via Craigslist by any angry suburban teenager.
Don’t get me wrong; part of me wants to ensure that unstable people who respond to personal rejection with black-hearted malice are prohibited from possessing assault rifles capable of maiming dozens of bystanders within minutes. But what if we gave them all the guns they wanted, as presents? They’d be so grateful that they’d be appalled at the prospect of harming their new, generous friends. So I’m really of two minds on this: either don’t put any guns into the hands of psychopaths, or give them the most guns of anyone, along with meticulous training from SWAT team members for how to execute a gruesome plan of action that shocks an unsuspecting nation. I couldn’t care less.
I can extend this flexible mindset to foreign relations. Lately, for instance, North Korea has been threatening nuclear strikes through bombastic words from their ostensibly imbalanced leaders. But while everyone else gets worked up over the atomic destruction that would result from the deployment of these weapons by madmen, and the ensuing international warfare it would prompt, all I can think about is a long-range missile screaming into my own home, irradiating the body of my sweet, sleeping child while obliterating him—and then I get it.
Here comes little Timmy right now… aww, look, he’s packing his own Bushmaster AR-15! Now, Timmy, be careful; don’t point it at that man on the street. But, on the other hand, do train it directly on him—he’ll have you in his sights, too, once I correct his aim.