It’s sitting here on my desk, just to the left of my hand, in the shade of the potted plant, resplendent in the shine of daylight coming through the window, right there, real as raindrops … but there is a part of my brain that simply won’t accept the fact of its existence even as I pick it up and turn the pages.
I guess I should explain.
I took a run down to the store yesterday to grab some milk and other basic necessities. As I drove the dirt road, lightly dazzled by the dollops of sunlight slapping the windshield through the overhanging trees, my mind was a perfect void. I thought nothing, and was for that small stretch at genuine peace. I walked into the store, collected my items, and even gifted myself one of those terrible Slim-Jim meat-and-cheese combo packs that could kill a yak with cholesterol poisoning at 20 paces … and then I passed the magazine rack.
There was Time, and Newsweek, and Vogue, and Glamour, and about nine different fishing magazines because this is New Hampshire, and then there was the thing currently haunting my desk. Bright yellow it was, titled CONCEALED CARRY 2015.
It had HOT NEW PERSONAL DEFENSE LOADS FOR 2015 across the top, HIDDEN COMFORT: HOT NEW CARRY RIGS in the corner, GREAT CARRY GUNS (GLOCK // SMITH & WESSON // SIG // HK // RUGER) across the bottom, and a giant picture of an FNS 9-milimeter dead center on the cover.
I had to have it, just to prove it was real. Yes, the people who published the thing got six bucks from me, but it was unavoidable. I wasn’t going to stand there with a gallon of milk in my hand and plow through it. I didn’t even open it at first, but when I set it before the man at the register, he expected money for it, which I suppose is positive proof I wasn’t hallucinating.
The very first page carries an advertisement for a belt designed specifically to carry a pistol holster; across the top of the page in towering bold print is DESIGNED TO CARRY THE CROSS. The last guy I’ve heard of who carried a cross was a pacifist from Nazareth who was too poor to afford sandals, so that’s got to be one hell of a belt.
The “Contents” page greets you with a picture of a beautiful woman emerging from an SUV pointing a gun that’s almost bigger than she is … but because the producers of this magazine care about safety and stuff, her finger is notably not on the trigger. The list of article titles include “Editor’s Shot,” “Know Your Cartridge,” “Have Gun, Will Travel,” “Carry a Big Stick,” “Carry Rigs,” and of course, “Market Trends.”
Most of the middle content is advertisements for pistols. The Editor’s note, titled “The Mind Is the Weapon,” comes off as reasonable at first, as it speaks highly of safety and training … until you get to phrases like “deadly force” and “lethal force encounter,” and you realize you’re dealing with a level of sheer paranoia, in magazine form, that has no peer. What lawless hellhole do these people live in that makes them think they not only have to pack hidden heat at all times, but have to make a glossy magazine about it?
Fifteen people were shot in Chicago on Sunday, including a five-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy. According to the report on the incident in the Chicago Tribune, “Ten people and a small dog were clustered on a porch right next to the scene. One woman tried to calm a crying baby by pointing out the flashing lights on parked police cars.”
There have been 215 mass shootings in the United States since New Year’s Day, shootings that have left dozens dead, hundreds injured, and have turned so many families into smoking craters. A 21-year-old shot up a church, and not so long ago, a 20-year-old shot up a grammar school … and the leadership we get on this ongoing bloodbath is either Ted Cruz saying, “We define gun control real simple – that’s hitting what you aim at,” or total windswept cowardly silence.
This magazine here on my desk actually exists, as do the bodies that keep dropping and the blood that runs in the gutters. The time has come for reasonable people to lay themselves on the gears of this machine and force it to stop grinding. Being a gun owner is one thing, when done within the boundaries of the law. Looking the other way when toddlers shoot toddlers on nearly a daily basis, 15 people get dropped in one day in one town, and thousands more die upon the barrel every year is something else altogether.
The butcher’s bill: tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of people have been shot in just the last few years, a great many of them are dead, and a great many of them were children. If you want to call yourself a responsible gun owner, take responsibility. Lead the charge against this utterly senseless carnage by deciding, here and now, not to be associated with this mayhem, and by demanding that people must be able to display a modicum of basic sense before buying amazingly lethal weapons one aisle over from the tube socks at Walmart. There are more guns than people in this country, so advocating for a process to collect and destroy these loose tools of destruction would also be a good place to start.
Defend your own reputations by defending the nation from this menace. Set aside the paranoid ethos represented by things like CONCEALED CARRY MAGAZINE. By doing so, you will not lose your rights, but keep and protect them, because sooner or later this rampant bloodletting is going to have actual consequences even for those who own guns responsibly. Be a responsible gun owner for real … and someday, maybe, no more children will bleed out in the street with the stench of cordite in their nose.
It’s up to you.