The other day at work, another teacher and I were discussing guns. Not in a technical way, but more in a philosophical-debate-kind-of-way. He brought up the recent shooting of a congresswoman, and he commented that if everyone at that event had had a gun, then the shooting might not have happened, or at the very least, not as many bystanders would have died. I said that he was crazy – that a roomful of guns going off would’ve made the situation even uglier. That’s my opinion, and I know enough about myself to know that it’s rooted in the fact that I’m not comfortable around guns. I’ve fired one, enjoyed it, too, but I just can’t get past the fact of how easily a gun can snuff out a life – intentionally or otherwise; that when you get right down to it, that’s the point of their existence – to end a life. They have the reek of death resting on them. (I’ve had people tell me that cars can kill just as easily, but that’s not why cars were invented.) But I’m sure I could get used to their presence, desensitized to it, especially if I grew up around guns, and I know most people who keep guns do it for practical reasons – hunting, self-defense, etc. A friend of mine who passed away a few years ago left a gun to me, but I never claimed it. I felt like having a gun in the house would fit in about as well as mirrors over our bed – just too unsettling. Sometime after Violet was born, the gun came to mind, and I wondered if I should bring it into our house – shouldn’t a father have one to protect his family? After living with the notion for a few days, I realized that more than ever, I didn’t want the gun in the house; I didn’t want it near Violet. The conversation with my fellow teacher got me thinking about it again, wondering why I didn’t see the gun as more of a tool than a danger, and the more I thought on it, I realized that the whole issue is really about control. We all have ways of keeping the dark possibilities of life at bay or at least off our minds. Most of them are necessary but futile, and while there’s no doubt that a gun in the hand grants a feeling of power, it’s an empty promise like most of our crutches. Life happens and the best thing that we can do to gain some measure of real control, the best thing I can try to teach Violet to do, is create a life that’s about making the world a better place.
56 days old