Give Peace a Chance


Could it really have been 35 years ago?

How is that even possible?

I remember that day, so very well.   Actually, I guess I remember the morning after that terrible day.

I woke up in our apartment, pretty early in the morning for a twenty something young woman.  My husband had already gone to work, but  my shift at the sandwich shop didn’t start until eleven.

I woke up. I stretched and yawned.  I think I cuddled with my cats for a few minutes.  Then I guess I got up and made coffee: I don’t remember this part of the morning.  This part came “before”.  I probably poured a cup and wandered into the living room, where our big old TV sat in its big heavy oak box.  I probably plopped into the armchair in that small living room after hitting the button to turn on the news.I probably sipped my coffee.

I don’t know for sure.

All I know for certain about that morning is that I heard the news man saying, “John Lennon was shot to death last night outside of his apartment in the Dakota.”  I remember that I gave a cry, that a terrible sound of shock was torn from me.  I remember that I stood up, and that I walked toward the TV screen.

And I remember that someone described the shooter, saying that he stood “in a military stance, with both hands holding the gun and aiming at the target.”

I remember falling to my knees and crying.

John?  John Lennon? Our John?  I couldn’t believe it.  I was numb and in shock and shaking.

I had already lived through the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, of Martin Luther King.  I had been to peace marches and rallies and anti-war gatherings.

I had grown up with the Beatles.  I saw that first appearance on Ed Sullivan.  I memorized every word to every song.

I played “Revolution #9 Backward” to see if Paul was really dead.  I cried when I heard about Yoko.  I cried when I heard that the band had broken up.

John Lennon was like my older brother; handsome, wise, talented, a little bit mysterious.

I couldn’t believe that he was dead.

Mostly, though, I couldn’t shake the image of someone facing him “in a military stance, with both hands holding the gun and aiming at the target.”

How horrific!  How could we live in a country, I asked myself, where anyone could get ahold of a gun like that and kill someone so good and caring and talented? How could someone just take John away from all of us?

It’s now 35 years later.  My questions remain the same.  The answers remain just as elusive.

John, we sure could use you now.



And another thing….


I’ve been talking to some very smart, very thoughtful people lately who just happen to be gun owners.  And I have had to adjust some of my thinking a bit.

That’s good, though, right?   I complain so often about those who are closed minded.  I don’t want to think of myself as one of them.

Here is one thought, from my very reasonable, thoughtful nephew Jon.  He grew up with guns, and is totally comfortable with them. He’s a hunter. He comes from a rural setting and he pointed out that some of my anti-gun thinking stems from a lack of knowledge. I’m afraid of guns. He says that some of my fear comes from lack of education.  He’s right.

He also says that a big part of our issue in this country is attitude. We need to learn that guns must be respected. They have to be treated with great care.

I’m with him on that!

But the conversation also covered the desire of so many people to own guns in order to protect themselves.  As I said in my last post, I understand the impulse.  But there are facts that get in the way of that thinking.

I’ve already talked about the statistics, all of which show that owning a gun makes you less safe, not more safe.  That’s just a fact, but people who are afraid are moved more by feelings than by logic.

So I turn to these two questions for those who keep a gun by the bedside in case of an intruder:

  1. If we didn’t have so many guns in this country, would you still feel the need to own one? If you didn’t feel that every one out there was armed and dangerous, would you still need to protect yourself with a gun?
  2. What do you own that is worth more than a human life?  I mean, if it was me, and someone came in to rob me, I would hand them the laptop and the wallet and say “good luck.”  I don’t own anything that valuable.  I am also not above running like hell right out the back door.  I can’t imagine how it would feel to shoot at another human being, even one who was trying to find oxycontin in my house.  If I somehow managed to kill a human, I don’t think I’d ever be the same again.

I think that Americans watch way too many episodes of NCIS and Bluebloods and Homeland.  We have an image of inner city gang members and terrorists storming into our suburban neighborhoods.  The truth is, where I live at least, the most likely intruder would be a young man with a huge drug problem, looking for medicine or money.  If one of them came in my front door, I’d be scared out of my mind, and traumatized for sure.

But not as traumatized as I would be if I fired a gun and had to watch that man bleed to death on my kitchen floor.

I understand the desire to protect ourselves. I do.  But for me, the most compelling desire is to protect myself from become just another killer in a land where there are already too many.


So I’ve Been Thinking


So I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  About guns and gun rights and all that stuff.

I keep trying, in my own limited way, to simplify the situation.  To make it sort of more manageable, you know?

Why am I doing this?

Well, because the people who are actually in charge seem to have totally tied themselves up in knots, to the point where they are completely incapable of doing anything at all about the fact that this country now contains more guns than people.   More. Guns. Than. People.


To me that is pretty much proof that having more guns won’t actually make us safer.

Anyway, I have tried to focus in on the arguments made by those who oppose increased gun control.  What I seem to be hearing are three basic arguments.  Here they are:

  1.  I enjoy shooting. It’s fun.  I do target practice and I enjoy going to the shooting range. It’s a form of entertainment for me.
  2. I am a hunter.  My family and I eat what we shoot.
  3. The world is a dangerous place.  The criminals and terrorists have guns, so I need to be able to protect myself and my family.

Here is the thing that surprises me: I absolutely understand each of these arguments. I have good friends and very dear family members who believe each of them.  Once you peel away the anger, the vitriol, the spite and simply look at the true arguments, they make a lot of sense.

But I believe that I have a logical, civil response to each of them.  And here are those responses:

  1. There are many things in this life that are fun, but are illegal because they pose too much of a threat to the community.  For example, I live in a big, wooded neighborhood where there are many trees.  I would love to be able to have  big outdoor fires in the summer.  I can’t, though: those fires might pose a danger to my neighbors.    I might enjoy safely and responsibly indulging in some mind-altering drugs. That might be fun.  But it has been recognized to be dangerous, so I can’t do it.  I can’t toss hand grenades at the stone wall in the woods. I can’t drive a tank to work.  I can’t even soup up the exhaust system in my car because of the effect on the air quality for my neighbors.
  2. I support hunting.  I love venison, although I am too squeamish to shoot the deer myself.  I believe that hunting is good for game, good for locavores, good for the natural habitat.  I would support allowing hunters to own hunting rifles, with training, licensing and a carefully kept record of who is shooting when and in what town. Better yet, I’d like to see the local police own and keep all the guns.  As a hunter, you’d have to go to the police department, show your license and sign the gun out for a day or a weekend.
  3. I just plain disagree with the argument that you are safer with a gun in your home. I understand the logic, but the facts show something quite different.     From this pretty non biased website: Safe Wise Home Security

    Gun ownership cons: Having a gun in the house makes living there statistically more dangerous
    Unfortunately, guns can’t discriminate between criminals and innocent bystanders. Studies have shown that unintentional shootings are four times as common as occurrences of gun use in legitimate home defense situations. 5 You’d actually be more likely, statistically speaking, to shoot someone by accident than you are to shoot a home invader.
    Having a gun in the house also increases your own chances of becoming the victim of a firearm-related homicide or suicide in the home. 6 Researchers have found that this holds true regardless of the type of gun you own, how you store it, or how many guns you own.
    Finally, if you have children, you should take into account how the presence of a firearm in the home might affect their safety. Most gun-owning parents take precautions to keep their children from finding and handling the family’s firearms. However, despite these efforts, children often handle guns in the home without their parents’ knowledge; in one study, 22% of parents who believed that their children had never handled the guns in the home were contradicted by the children themselves. 7 Further, when a child or teen is killed by a firearm, the gun that killed them comes from their own home fully 72 percent of the time. 8



I don’t think that this is actually rocket science.  I think that we can do some very basic things to make ourselves safer.

We can allow hunting, while outlawing automatic, semi-automatic and all other assault weapons.  We can make it legal ONLY to buy guns from registered, recognized official gun sellers.  No “gun shows”.  We can follow our Canadian neighbors and make it the law that if you own a weapon, you MUST  keep it locked up.    We can make it illegal to own a gun if you are under 18 ( just as you can’t get married, vote or buy a beer).   And we can pass a law that says “If you buy a gun, that gun is in your name. Any crime committed with that gun makes you responsible.”

And one final thought: If you town wants to set up a well regulated militia, I’m pretty sure that’s covered in the Constitution.