clock menu more-arrow no yes
Gun sales leapt during the COVID lockdown, and a California judge just overturned that state’s ban on assault weapons. Here, a clerk shows a customer a TPM Arms LLC California-legal featureless AR-10 style .308 rifle an Orange County gun show.
Gun sales leapt during the COVID lockdown, and a California judge just overturned that state’s ban on assault weapons. Here, a clerk shows a customer a TPM Arms LLC California-legal featureless AR-10 style .308 rifle an Orange County gun show.
PATRICK T. FALLON, Getty

Filed under:

Guns a danger to their owners most of all

There’s no hope for help from laws, but you can protect yourself from guns with common sense.

Don’t buy a gun.

Or do — it’s your choice. I don’t want you to immediately clutch at yourself and collapse to the floor, writhing and moaning how wronged you are. I’m so tired of that. Grow up. My saying “Don’t buy a gun” isn’t a command from the ooo-scary, all-powerful media.

Rather, it’s just a suggestion. From me. A friendly suggestion. Please don’t buy a gun. Why? They’re dangerous, for starters. And apparently confusing, because the reasons that people typically offer for buying guns — to protect themselves and guard their families — are actually the top reasons not to buy a gun. Gun ownership imperils you and your family.

How? There’s suicide, for starters. Two-thirds of gun deaths are self-inflicted. I don’t want to start throwing numbers at you, since people are flummoxed already. Be assured the odds of killing yourself leap when you buy a gun.

Why isn’t this better known? Imagination trips people up. It’s far easier for men to imagine Freddy Krueger breaking through the door, while much harder to imagine themselves rashly deciding to end it all on some dark night of the soul.

Guess which happens more often? It isn’t that you can’t kill yourself without a gun. Just that guns are such efficient killing machines. Three percent of those who attempt suicide with drugs succeed; 85 percent of those using a gun do.

I know I’m applying rational thought to an area of emotion and frenzy. In the set piece fantasy of male power and safety, guns are a masturbatory aid. Why else would some guys get so worked up over them?

Guns are part of the whole Republican fear junkie scramble. Not only the fear of somebody coming through the door. But fear that guns might get taken away, a terror that gun companies profit by stoking. A reader sent me a laughable letter from the National Rifle Association with “NOTICE OF GUN CONFISCATION” in huge letters on the envelope.

I wish I could share the whole letter. It’s ridiculous. The first three sentences will have to serve: “Dear Friend of Freedom,” it begins. “Unless you fight back starting right now, you face the real threat of having your guns forcibly confiscated by the federal government after the next election. No, I’m not talking about run-of-the-mil gun control. I’m talking about armed government agents storming your house, taking your guns, and hauling you off to prison.”

What does it mean to “fight back ”— any guesses? Of course. Send $30 to the NRA.

If this prompts you to give even more money to the NRA, to spite me, no need to write your vindictive little note. Having rung the Pavlovian bell, I’ll also react here: “Curses, I am so shocked! Foiled again.” (Note to everybody else: ot-nay, eally-ray).

You don’t need a gun. Most police officers never use theirs, not once in their entire career. And in situations when you think you need a gun, you usually don’t. They’re worse than unnecessary; they’re problem multipliers. Guns take whatever situation you’re faced with and make it a thousand times worse.

Look at Deshon Mcadory. If the Lombard barber hadn’t been packing a gun, he’d be out the price of a trim after Christian McDougald supposedly refused to pay for a haircut at his Maywood shop. But Mcadory did — a legally purchased, legally carried gun — so now McDougald is dead, and Mcadory in jail, charged with first-degree murder. I don’t want to speak for Mcadory, but were it me, I’d rather simply be out the $20.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really care if you buy a gun. They’re like vaccines. I’ve got mine. I’m safe, relatively, if you don’t want your vaccine, well, it’s your funeral. I hope you’re OK, but if you’re not, the person to blame is as close as the nearest mirror.

With guns, I don’t have mine. I’m safer because of it. And, frankly, better. I manage to go to the hardware store to buy birdseed without arming or wetting myself; if you can’t do that, well, you have my sympathy. It must be awful to be that afraid without your comfort object, your lethal pacifier, your mechanical teddy bear that sometimes kills people.

Space dwindles, so let’s end as we began, with a sentiment you don’t read nearly enough:

Don’t buy a gun.

Other Views

We must get serious about fighting the Republican threat to our democracy

Letters to the Editor

Our culture, our courts and millions of Americans have made a god of the gun

College Sports

College basketball Top 25: Purdue breaks through to No. 1; plus, my ballot

View all stories in Commentary