|Tucson, Arizona, 2011; photograph by Paolo Pellegrin|
via The New York Review of Books
I have several friends, particularly in the medical marijuana community, who are ardent Christians and political conservatives or libertarians. Their beliefs in many regards are antithetical to my own, despite the fact that we share much in common, namely our children with seizure disorders. A couple of years ago, I had to disengage from one member of this community when he derided the anguished cries of the father of the UCSB shooter for stricter gun laws. This person then derided me, called me a coward and declared that it was people like himself that had to protect lazy people like me. It's too easy, I think, to call a person like this insane or stupid or even to feel scared as shit that they're carrying guns around.
Lately, I've noticed on Facebook that a number of these people -- my friends -- are posting quite exuberantly about gun shopping, about applying for gun licenses and carry and conceal permits. The comments that follow these status updates are enthusiastic, even down to the emoticons of guns and happy faces. Their reasoning is generally along the lines of protection, that carrying a gun will protect them and their family. The other day, I sat on my front lawn with Sophie and a guy who was going to do a little work on my house. He, too, is an ardent gun enthusiast and spoke openly about the need to protect oneself from bad people, to arm oneself and learn to shoot well, in the event of a home invasion or a threat to my children or myself.
I might just be a dumb-ass, but I am not afraid.
I really don't understand what everyone is so afraid of, why they think concealing a sophisticated piece of killing technology is nifty and what sort of statistics they've seen that I haven't regarding defensive gun use in the home or out at the movie theater or in a grocery store or child's school.
To be frank, the only caveat to my lack of fear is -- well -- you. You with your glib photos of guns, your cocky aims to protect yourself and your children from dark forces, your conceal and carry ardency, your deep cynicism and paradoxical blind faith in -- what? In what lies your faith? Please enlighten me.
I've been mulling these things the last few days, inarticulate and struggling to understand, repelled and repulsed and uncomfortable. I didn't want to resort to sarcasm, to scorn or contempt -- I like these people, feel bonded to them, even devoted. Yet, distance. My brain's wrappings -- they're undone. I don't understand. In one of those amazing instances of synchronicity, tonight I read the brilliant Marilynn Robinson's long essay on faith and guns and fear in The New York Review of Books. I hope that it will provoke some response, that I will. I'm not afraid and have nothing to carry or conceal.