So you’re walking up one side of a crowded street, running actually, with others running parallel to you, in front and behind, on your right, maybe hundreds in view. And coming the other way, hundreds more: running fast, wooshing past nearly within arms reach, rarely acknowledging your presence. And the most disturbing thing of all, you realize, is that each person on this thoroughfare has a gun, pointed roughly in front of them. The barrels of the guns of those coming the other way seem to look right into you. And then you register that most of the people passing you or running along on your side seem not to care. They’re talking on their cell phones, drinking their Grande lattes, fidgeting with their music players, looking to their side or behind them to talk to others, even the kids they’ve got with them, all the while racing ahead with guns pointed toward anyone who happens to be within the wide arc of their forward momentum.
If you mostly walk, or ride a bike like I do, then you might know exactly what I’m talking about. This is the everyday nightmare, that people have become so desensitized to the lethal power they wield every time they run an errand, drop the kids off at school or commute to work.
According to WolframAlpha, there were about 43,400 deaths due to automobile collisions in 2005 (see also Fatal Car Accident, Crash Statistics). Compare this to the FBI‘s total of 10,100 murders by firearms that same year. Now, plenty of gun deaths aren’t murders, so the total number killed by guns is higher than that. Of course, one could argue that between asthma and other respiratory problems aggravated by smog, cardiovascular disease aggravated by traffic stress (oh, you know it’s true), and the long-term effects of pollution and global climate disruption from using internal combustion engines to push around a couple of tons of steel and plastic… cars are responsible for more than just car crash deaths, too.
And people wonder why I won’t get behind the wheel of one of those things. Nobody asks me why I don’t have a gun.
(Thanks to my sweetie, Erik, for the unsettling visual analogy. Dude’s a genius!)
It occurred to me that someone might misconstrue the intent of this post due to its timing. I was working on it before the recent tragedy in Arizona, and it is in no way a comment on that. I suppose I wasn’t as explicit as I should have been that I abhor guns (yes, I have had automatic weapons pointed my way, and no, I didn’t think it was okay, even if the extortionists that called themselves “police” in Mobutu’s Zaire were unlikely to be able to afford to use their ammunition).