Friday, October 9, 2009

A Shot of Reality

Philip K. Dick wrote my favorite line about reality: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Murder suicides are all the rage these days, so to speak. The recession is cutting tempers short as money becomes even shorter. Fights escalate into violence, violence so regrettable that many perpetrators simply off themselves. Sort of shows how much of a “deterrent” the death penalty is... but that’s another post.

It’s no surprise to me that a gun advocate was found shot recently. Guns don’t make anyone safer, and frankly I believe owning one is dangerous to you and your loved ones. Obviously owning a gun did not help Meleanie Hain. Most gun violence occurs when normal arguments escalate. Not having a gun present in the first place is the surest way to prevent this type of escalation.

That being said, I find Meleanie Hain to be a perfect example with what’s wrong with America. For one thing, she seems to have seen herself as some kind of martyr for bringing a deadly weapon to a children’s sporting event. America is certainly full of these foolish, Don Quixote types who envision themselves as noble defenders of good.

Then, when her permit to carry a weapon was revoked and re-instated, it wasn’t good enough for her. She had to sue, to prove just how litigious American assholes are. She was asking for a million dollars, for things like “emotional distress.” Boo-fucking-hoo, lady.

Finally, this sudden chance at money was likely the final stress that broke her relationship with her husband. Even though we are all conditioned to believe becoming wealthy will make us happy, lottery winners prove otherwise.

I don’t know if it was her gun that did the deed, or just that she fell in love with a guy who also clearly liked guns, but there’s two less morons in the world today. Yet even though I think both she and her husband are stupid people who made stupid decisions, it’s a shame they’re gone and that their children have to grow up without parents just because their parents bought into an American myth.

Here’s a thought to consider: people buy guns to protect themselves from crime. About 90% of crime, from theft and fraud to rape and murder, is committed by acquaintances. If you buy a gun, you are really arming yourself against your friends and family, because it is they who will most likely victimize you. Perhaps if you feel you need a gun, you really need new friends.

Fact: In 2006, there were 30,896 gun deaths in the U.S:
16,883 suicides (55% of total deaths)
12,791 homicides (41% of total deaths)
642 unintentional shootings (2% of total deaths)
360 from legal intervention (1.2% of total deaths)
220 from undetermined intent (.8% of total deaths)

If you own a gun, what do you think it will be used for? Statistically... collecting dust.


  1. I originally come from the UK, a country not really known for its gun culture. I lived down the road from a town called Hungerford, where a guy called Michael Ryan walked down the main road with a shotgun in the early 90s. That was my exposure to guns in the UK until the Dunblane incident in Scotland pretty much resulted in a total ban on handguns.

    Having read your piece, I'm glad it happened the way it did in the UK. I struggle to comprehend a society in which guns are commonplace, so this was very thought provoking.

    Thanks for provoking.

  2. wow i did not know that there were more suicides by guns than homicides...very interesting statistic.

    Actually, the stuff you bring up about the possibility of a lot of money is actually a really interesting point. Durkheim (the sociologist, not the cat) talked about several different types of suicide and one of the types was anomic suicide- the type of suicide where you suffer from "normlessness;" that is, when your life situation changes suddenly so your regular norms/routines are thrown off, and you don't know how to act anymore. One of the common causes of this is sudden unemployment and a rapid decline in economic circumstances. But Durkheim actually argues that it could go both ways- so he specifically talks about lottery winners, and how when poor people get a sudden influx of money they also suffer from normlessness (or "anomie") because suddenly their whole life situation is shifted. T

    Point is, I think this counts as anomic suicide. :)

  3. Yeah, but I'm not sure gun suicides count as "preventable."

    There are, afterall, a thousand ways to kill yourself, and guns aren't even the surest way.

    Besides, suicide should be legal and maybe even encouraged. I bet less people would do it.


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