In 2010 Tea Partiers were screaming about Death Panels, Health Care and Government Tyranny while conservative voices like Sharon Angle were slyly suggesting that “Second Amendment Solutions” were what might be needed to help “restore America”.
A few months later, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, along with 17 others.
With the proliferation of cell phone video and police body cams, the last two years have presented more recorded evidence of rampant abuse and injustice at the hands of police than ever before. The necessary creation of Black Lives Matter and their demand for police accountability was seen as an indictment of white America for many conservative pundits rather than the much needed moment to analyze the deep seeded history of racism within the United States.
Within a year of the Black Lives Matter movement being ridiculed, dehumanized, and suggestively labeled as “radical”, Dylan Roof sat in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
Even after this clear case of incendiary media influencing the mind of a psychopath, Sean Hannity stated his hypothesis that Black Lives Matter were out to “kill cops and kill white people.”
That ludicrous notion, hammered into the psyche of his viewers every day, is something that can and does create hostile environments for people of color, Trans folks, and gay men and women. Calling Black Lives Matter the “Murder Movement,” despite hard factual evidence that they do not condone violence against police and statistical data that proves officer deaths are at a 30 year low, is beyond irresponsible. It’s contemptuous and reckless.
Obviously, the scale of this story is NOTHING compared to the scale of what is happening now. I continue to ache - and seeth - about what happened in Tucson… the tragedy of it all, and the causes behind it.
I was on the California/Nevada border… which is, if you’re curiousor checking a google map, is at the corner of “Meth” and “That Taco Bell Burrito with the Fritos In It.”
It was a gambling weekend - a stop there on a Friday and then two days in Vegas. So it’s midnight, and I’m playing blackjack. Minding my own business, splitting aces and eights and having as good of a time as you can have in one of those stateline casinos.
Then, some heavy-set, aggressive tub of human enters the casino… with a handgun strapped to his side in a holster.
When surrounded by casino security - duh - he decides to talk about his gun rights next to my blackjack table. Pinned between his gun and his ass… and the side of a table, I had to hope it ended peacefully.
I listened to this guy talk. It’s not like he left med school after twelve hours of learning about heart surgery and decided to take his pistol out for a drink to discuss the state of the world. No. This was someone I didn’t know, half a foot away from me with the power to end me accidentally (or intentionally).
Eventually, he mumbled, walked out of the casino, and went back home…
But it was a stark reminder that guns are the great lowest common denominator: Your logic, your reason, your life, your dreams… they can all be wiped out by somebody’s bad decision.
How small must his “you know what” be? How needy for attention, or desperate to be noticed or feared, that he had to waddle into a crowded casino on a Friday night packing heat?
Or was it something deeper - was he one more soul wound up, “armed” if you will, that the only thing that would help him stand out was the fact that he had the power to kill on his hip. He might have said “The ability to defend himself,” but that’s not what I - and everyone around me - felt. What we felt was his “unfair ability to intimidate.”
Maybe he was the most responsible gun owner in all of Nevada. I don’t know this.
The fact is… my life. My declaration of independence, my life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was suddenly at risk because of somebody else’s poor judgment.
And THAT’S where I have my problem.
I have to fear, because he has to swagger. And that’s not very fair, is it?
So me, who does not want to holster a gun like I’m living in a poorly written Western, remains at the mercy of people that choose to, because they have nothing else to define them. There was NO reason to walk into this casino with a gun other than he was looking for a confrontation. And the lack of gunplay was simply a reflection of where that confrontation stopped.
Assumptions, sure. But had it not been for cooler heads, I have a different story to tell.
I went to bed, shaken. Annoyed. Wondering how anybody can get a gun, and how poorly thought out some of our laws our about who gets to carry them, and where they get to bring them.