A gun, an axe, and a shovel walk into a bar….

For all the gun enthusiasts who claim I’m always attacking them—something to make them feel better:

Here’s what the gun enthusiasts glean from that dialogue: “A gun is a tool; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

I thought about the statement and did a search for famous axe-murderers. Well, there’s Lizzie Borden, though she was acquitted of the crime, so I’m not sure if she even counts. The other names aren’t that famous, and Jake Bird, the gold standard of axe murderers, claimed to have killed forty-four people as he hoboed about the countryside—and most of us have never even heard of him. He was hanged for one such crime in 1949. Nobody ever proved he had committed others. I guess the axe has failed miserably as a murder weapon.

Now shovel-murderers are even harder to find; in fact, despite Shane’s comments, screwdrivers and chisels are much more dangerous than shovels, and don’t even get me started on awls!

Shane was one of the all-time great films based on a pretty darn good book, but that doesn’t mean that what the actor (Alan Ladd) read from his script is any more meaningful than Kate Winslet’s assurance to Leonardo DiCaprio near the end of Titanic that she’ll never let go…which she did…about ten seconds later. Movies are great fun, but they’re movies; and all the gunnuts (I like it as one word) who want to quote Shane should not forget that he also says this:

“[T]here’s no living with…with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand.”

Which brings me, finally, to the following:

Gun show

If you’re reading my blog, you’re probably not at the firearm and knife show perusing the rifles, shotguns, and “fine militaria.” And if you’re not there, you might be interested in what I have planned for next year: the Shane Memorial (pretty sure he’s dead) Axe and Shovel Show. We can have it at Home Depot or Lowe’s or your local independent axe and shovel dealer.

Let me know if you’re interested.

Please: no awls.

Guns and butter, but mostly guns

I don’t know anybody with a serious mental illness—at least don’t think I do. But according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in seventeen Americans suffers from either major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or borderline personality disorder. That means either I, one of the neighbors to my left or right, or the family across the street falls into that category.

I also don’t know anyone who owns an assault rifle. Again, same caveat. But published reports this past week indicate that of 50,000 registered assault rifles in Connecticut, only 47,000 have been registered. So I guess that’s bad, and everyone agrees that all these scofflaws should stop scoffing. But according to people in the gun industry, that 50,000 total may be as little as fifteen percent of actual assault-rifle-owners in this state. In Connecticut. Little eighty-by-sixty mile Connecticut. I wouldn’t have thought there’d be enough room to store them all, but somehow people are finding adequate space.

So let’s be conservative here (in the non-Tea Party sense of the word) and settle on 250,000. And let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that each owner possesses ten. That may be a bit high, but once you start collecting them, well, they say it’s kind of like eating popcorn…sans butter. So we have 25,000 people with assault rifles, that’s about the population of New London, and one out of every seventeen is depressed, schizophrenic, etc. By my count, that’s about 1500 people with serious mental illnesses who also have assault rifles—in our state alone. And yet the “problem” is they’re not registered? Seriously? That’s the problem? If we think a small state like ours that contains within its borders 350,000 assault rifles isn’t a problem in and of itself, then we aren’t merely missing the point, we’re missing the entire pencil…and the eraser…and the tree it came from.

Gun apologist constantly deflect criticism of their pastime by claiming that we need better mental health more than we need gun laws. But it doesn’t have to be either-or, nor does it have to be one then another. But that’s a battle for another day. At least the state should make a concerted effort to get these guns registered so that, if by chance, the one-in-seventeen crosses databases with the 350,000, maybe we can pull some of those guns off the streets before the next mass killing.