Gun Violence

British #4 Rifle

My stepfather had a British #4 with a magazine and a bayonet. He told me once, if the blade get stuck in a rib cage, fire the rifle to clear the corpse.

My experience with gun ownership begins and ends (well except for the military where I did train to shoot people like me who were stupid enough find themselves in a situation where they were shooting at other people) with my stepfather who owned a number of military rifles and bayonets that he kept under his bed in the security of the cardboard boxes in which they were shipped to our house. My stepfather was a Northern Irish man who was not very comfortable in Reagan’s America but he loved having the firepower to execute any of the people he did not agree with; he had the odd habit of identifying someone in a check out line at the grocery store — typically some 80s dude with a mullett and baseball hat that had been artfully curled wit the application of pressure and palm sweat at ether end. Often the dude would just ignore my stepfather. Other times they would go, “What you looking at?” My stepfather wouldn’t answer but would just star at them and scrunch up his lips until they turned white. And then the dude usually backed down which may been the game of chicken my stepfather was aiming at. But if things continued to escalate my stepfather would turn his head away. And when the dude went back to buying his cigarettes and Olympia or whatever my stepfather would mutter, “I could kill him. He’s a dead man now.” This man, my stepfather, was typically a sweet guy but a nasty drunk and even a nastier hungover person. He had a copy of Mein Kempf in the back window of his car probably in a provocation to people carrying the Bible around in the back window of their car. And he had three assault rifles. He took me to a range and we fired the weapons at targets that had the silhouettes of human beings on them. We were both a terrible aim. Things got really bad when he started listening to Wagner and his lime green lederhosen arrived via mail order. (I’m unsure how a person discoverers where to order lederhosen in the pre-interent world?) He armed one if his army rifles with his bayonet and began to goose step up and down the hallway. I don’t know what happened next because we got out the house and we didn’t live with him after that. But at the root of his inability to interact with other human beings and his inability to navigate even the Fred Meyer grocery store line was a fall back position of lethal force and a fantasy of Dirty Harry style firefights not against “bad guys” but against his children, dudes in the grocery store, against women driving vans with their kids to the movies. Far from taking personal responsibility, the “clinging to guns” of those who would keep our gun laws as they are strikes me as an abdication of personal responsibility, an active fantasy of dehumanizing “the other” to the point where these people entertain the fantasy of putting a bullet into their “center of mass” (that is their torso). You only need to look back at the needlessly fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman to understand guns must be regulated and anything short of very strict controls is to pander to the fantasy life of adult children and lunatics like my stepfather (who was likely just a bad drunk and hardly a candidate for psychoactive medication.)

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