Gun Control, School Shooting, and Writing

         Atop being a prolific painter, I’ve been writing for years. Only recently have many of my stories been collected in one book, Gonzombie and Other Dark Tales, (edited by the talented Suz deMello.)
As we worked on our second or third draft, there came news of a school shooting. Twenty children were killed.
Master_Nick-TGarden2detail         A
longside the obvious horror, I was further mortified for a personal reason. One of my stories, the very first in the book, is heartbreaking zombie fiction involving guns and children. In the wake of the real tragedy, I found myself wondering, even worrying that my story would be regarded as demonstrating remarkably poor taste.
         I’ve since expressed this concern to my closest friends. Each one assured me that any connection is tenuous at most. They’ve all encouraged me to proceed. (They were too kind to point out that everything else in the book is also likely to offend for various other reasons.)
         It turns out that while I’ve been weighing whether or not to share my art, there are cries here and there claiming that the media is to blame for a lunatic opening fire on innocent children. Apparently, I’ve heard this argument so often that it’s started to worm under my skin. To counter such nonsense, here’s a quote from TV’s Frank Conniff, “Yup, pop culture & video games cause gun violence. Explains all those shooting sprees at Comic-Con every year.”
Yet hogwash always seems to hit on multiple fronts.
         It
strikes me now as ironic that while I’ve been worrying about releasing accounts of fictional violence, gun advocates have been tripping over themselves in their haste to promote access to actual deadly weapons. I’ve seen no sign that this faction is at all concerned with consideration or taste in their timing.
         Still, I try to look at all sides fairly. Thus I often find myself with mixed feelings. On one hand, I don’t generally believe that prohibition of any sort is effective, or always even desirable. On the other, the arguments put forth by gun enthusiasts rarely hold water. Though I’m not calling for an all-out ban, I am compelled to dispel absurd rationalizations when I hear them.

         “Guns don’t kill people! People kill people!”

         Yes, people do, and they’re especially efficient at it when given access to guns.
         And you’re right in another way. Guns project bullets. The bullets kill people.
         In case there’s any real confusion in the N.R.A. on this point: No advocate of gun control is claiming that weapons have lives of their own. Rather, it’s that firearms make it extraordinarily easy for unstable people to end lives.

         “People die in car accidents every day, but you don’t talk about banning cars!”

         In sooth, judging by the dangerous stupidity I see every single time I must venture outside, I really don’t believe that humans are yet ready for cars. It takes a smarter person to engineer such things than it does to operate them – but that’s neither here nor there.
         The salient point is that the analogy doesn’t hold up. Cars were designed for transportation. Guns were designed for killing.

         “Guns aren’t just used to kill! They’re also for target practice!”

         Let me acquaint you with the purpose of practice. One common synonym is rehearse. Rehearsing a play is to shooting at inanimate targets as performing is to shooting at the living. But perhaps that analogy also won’t stand either, as at the end of a play, even a Shakespearean tragedy, no actor is actually dead.
         By the way, though I shouldn’t have to spell this out, human behaviour clearly indicates that it must be said, so here goes… Do not ever point a weapon at a human being, no matter how many human-shaped targets you’ve practiced shooting.

         “We need guns to protect our property!”

         This might seem plausible if only the particular possessions that N.R.A. members are most vehement about protecting weren’t their guns. Let us just think about it for a moment. They need to collect guns in order to protect their gun collection.
         This kind of circular reasoning reminds me of the old anti-drug P.S.A. “I have to do cocaine, so I can work longer, so I can make more money, so I can buy more cocaine…”
         I’m also reminded of those who insist that the Bible is infallible because it’s the word of God, which we know because the Bible tells us so.
         These are known as logical fallacies, which is to say that they are entirely illogical.

         “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

         This argument is meaningless in that it could be said of literally anything. For example: When shooting kids is outlawed, only outlaws will shoot kids.
         Despite gun-owners collecting guns to protect their guns, legally acquired firearms have still been stolen and/or resold, and then used to commit crimes. So speaking of circular reasoning, “We need more guns to protect ourselves from from all those people with access to guns.”

         “Take my wife? Please. My dog? Maybe. My gun? Never!”

         Rather than an attempt at logical argument, this one is another slogan, and certainly a very crass joke. Here the living are valued less than an object. They are regarded as expendable by the gun enthusiast. I’d be very much surprised to hear that such skewed priorities didn’t indicate a severe mental illness. In any event, we needn’t further address another common argument, “I need a gun to protect my family,” as the proponents have already shot their own claim full of holes.
         And on that note…

         “After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.”
         –William S. Burroughs

         You’re quoting Burroughs!? Really!?
         Okay, I can dig the perspective put forth by Stephen King, “It is the tale, not he who tells it.” ‘Tis a call to heed the message, regardless of the messenger. But in this case, the words come from someone who shot and killed his common-law wife, Joan Vollmer. Gun enthusiasts might choose their mascots with greater care.
         Hell, I might even accept a quote from Hunter Thompson instead, ’cause as far as I know, the only person he shot was himself. However, while I do think of suicide as an adult’s right, I still regard it as tragic, and again not the best example.
 theoldgang4web-nickroberts        If anything made Burroughs and Thompson great, it was their writing, and demonstrably not their connection with guns.
    After all this, one might suspect that my own fiction includes some preaching from the soapbox about gun control. It doesn’t. There are carnivorous zombies in my stories, and more than one character wielding firearms to stop them. Yes, even I can imagine scenarios where guns should come into play, and those are in fiction. Just remember that it’s not a How-To manual.

    “Gonzombie and Other Dark Tales” will be released soon on Amazon.

Master Nick  © 2012
    P.S.
    For all those still desperately afraid of bad guys, here is The Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

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