Wife got a job, her first in the States. We’re so proud of her. I play an important role in transporting her to and from work because while she has gainful employment, she does not have a license.
A local news story caught my eye while sitting at home with the children during one of her shifts. There was a murder a mile from our house. I clicked through and read. I already knew the story, but I just wanted to confirm what I already knew.
I’ll give a trigger warning to the more sensitive readers. You may be offended by my white privilege, but I run that risk for the sake of brutal honesty.
The victim was a black male. The suspect is a black male. Police believe the suspect knew the victim. The end (as far as I’m concerned).
I don’t want to be insensitive to this victim or all the other murder victims in similar situations, but the more pressing task for me was to come up with a calming response in case Wife noticed this story. So I started working out my response in my head, just in case.
The Response in My Head
“As you know, my love, the United States has serious racial problems, like Peru does. You knew that. We were here when Ferguson blew up.
“Anyway, within the African-American community there is a greater amount of violence than any other demographic. Who knows why? Legacy of oppression, socioeconomic injustice, rap music, the CIA … Doesn’t matter how it got that way. That’s just how it is.
“Fortunately, amor, and I don’t want to make light of the victims’ suffering, but that doesn’t really touch us. We’re not black. Our children aren’t black. We’re not going to get caught up in that. Of course it’s tragic, but there’s nothing we can do. We certainly don’t need to worry about our safety. Because we’re privileged. You know, white privilege.
“I know you worry about me, not just because I’m the head of household but because you love me. But seriously, what are my chances of being murdered as a white man?”
I started to think about this one.
- I don’t traffic in heroin/opioids, methamphetamines or cocaine.
- I don’t lay other dudes’ wives (Amor, you already know … you get every drop jajaja).
- I’m not a police officer.
- I won’t try to fight off the armed assailant in a carjacking or mugging.
I once knew a guy who was killed in a road rage incident. And to be honest, I do sometimes get pissed off at other drivers who ride too close behind or in some other careless way put at risk my brand new pre-owned minivan full of small children. I occasionally give angry glares at people or, very rarely, shout at them. But I’ve never gotten out of the car to confront an aggressive driver.
New rule: don’t get out of the car to confront strangers over their unsafe driving.
After considering road rage, I felt like I was out of risk factors for white men being murdered. I started to reach.
I don’t belong to a biker club?
What am I doing? I don’t need any more bullshit. I have my response for Wife. She probably didn’t see that story anyway. Who reads local news anymore?
The time came for me to fulfill my manly duty of loading all three offspring into the minivan and picking up Wife from her workplace. She got into the car, gave me a kiss and greeted our adoring children.
As I pulled onto the avenue, she turned to me and said, “Did you hear about the shooting?”
Now everything you have just read was in my mind hours ago. I had forgotten it by the time she popped the question. With screaming children in a minivan, the only thing you can think about is how to get them to shut the fuck up.
Hence, my response didn’t come out exactly as I put it above.
The Actual Response
“You know, my love, I’ve told you many times that the United States is not really any safer than Peru as far as violence goes. But you don’t get all worried about the killings there. Why?
“Because it’s pretty rare for innocent bystanders to be killed. Most victims are caught in “ajuste de cuenta” scenarios. And here, like there, the shootings aren’t totally random. Most victims are somehow involved with their killers.
“But we’re boring, law-abiding citizens. So you have nothing to worry about, dear. We’ll all be fine.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked with a confused look. “The man killed some 10 people.”
Then I was confused. But I remembered there was a mass shooting in the headlines. Not the local headlines, the national headlines. In fact the story was probably on the television at her workplace.
I was worried she would see the shooting that occurred one mile away. She was talking about a shooting 1,000 miles away.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I asked incredulously. “You’re talking about a mass shooting on the news? Oh my God, will you fucking stop?”
I went on a bit of a rant, and that rant inspired this article.
“You knew these things happened here, these rampage shootings. It’s a fact of life, get over it. They happen all the time. I think there was one last month, and there will be another in a month or two. They happen all the time. There’s nothing you can do. “
As Bill O’Reilly says, that’s the price of freedom.
“You knew this before we moved back here, my love. Remember Sandy Hook in 2012, when we were on honeymoon in Colombia? That guy shot a couple dozen small children at a primary school. Or the other guy that broke the record in Vegas just a couple years ago, he shot up a country music festival and killed north of 50.
“Nothing’s going to change, so it’s not worth crying or worrying over. You just have to accept it.
“Look at it this way, babe. Shooting rampages get all the headlines, but the odds that you’ll be killed in one are actually very low. You’re more likely to die in a plane crash, or by general gun violence. But even those are much less likely than dying in a car accident.
“You want to worry about something, worry about life in the goddamn car.
“Speaking of which, if this motherfucker behind me hits me while I have the kids in the car, I’m going to break his nose. I don’t care about his insurance. I’ll fix the damage to the car, but I’m going to break his fucking nose.”
The Rant Turned into Anecdotes
America isn’t a perfect country, love. We have problems too. You have to get used to seeing this on the news. It’s not going to change anytime soon. Too many Americans are just deranged. They have a deranged obsession with their guns.
In fact, something has changed since I left for Latin America. The guns people are even more deranged than they were before. I’ve noticed that just since we’ve been back.
This guy was talking my ear off in the sauna the other day. He started as soon as I sat down, and he wouldn’t pause for a second. I couldn’t get a word in, he just kept talking and talking.
His diatribe started with saunas and pools, and moved to hotel with pools, and he sees so many hotels because he goes to a lot of conventions, and speaking of conventions he just went to the mother of all conventions in Indianapolis.
And he went on about Indianapolis for a while before it came out he was there for the NRA convention. This event had made national headlines, and I managed to mention that I had read there was all kinds of intrigue among NRA’s leadership, without letting on how delighted I was about that.
And the guy said, “Well, the press is no friend of the NRA.”
He repeated that line at some point. I didn’t take a shot at it, partly because I never got another word in but probably more out of politeness.
But as a friend of journalists, as someone who knows many personally and respects their hard work and commitment to verify facts, I wanted to point out that their reporting is not supposed to be “friendly” to anybody. It is supposed to be indifferent. If it’s “friendly,” it’s probably not journalism.
“The press is no friend of the NRA” could probably be better stated as “reporting is no friend of the NRA,” or “transparency is no friend of the NRA.”
My annoyance level was rising and I thought maybe better than starting an argument would be to leave, but the whole point of being in the sauna is to get some recovery benefits and that takes at least 10 minutes. So I was facing a dilemma between maintaining politeness and cutting the sauna short when I was saved by the arrival of a couple old black ladies.
I hadn’t mentioned the demographic profile of the deranged gun enthusiast talking my ear off, because I don’t have to. Of course he was an old white dude. And while that is the profile of most gun people, black women are the least likely to endorse our libertine legal environment for stockpiling high-capacity assault-style rifles.
And with these ladies’ arrival, the guy stopped talking about the NRA. He didn’t stop talking (to my dismay), but no more NRA.
Telling the wife about this in the car, I said that this was new. This didn’t happen before. The gun nuts were always here, but you didn’t have to hear about it is so much. It didn’t come up in conversation all the time, like it seems to now.
It just happened at a party at a relative’s house last week. A neighbor stopped by while a group of us were talking outside, and he mentioned how he had called the police the week previous on a couple guys who were breaking into cars.
I volunteered that I know of one thief in the neighborhood who used to rob houses. Was it him? I know where he lives, I added, implying the possibility of setting the dude up for a beat-down, knowing full well that there would be zero follow-up from my end as soon as the beer wore off.
The neighbor didn’t know if it was the same guy. A woman left our group to go inside, and this neighbor told me in a low voice that he hadn’t called the police. He actually caught one of the two thieves. He saw them from inside his house and ran outside after them with his pistol, cornering one while the other got away.
I understand scaring the kid or even slapping him around. But shooting him? Are you trying to be the next George Zimmerman? You’re going to shoot him over the change in your console and the sunglasses in the glove box?
He didn’t explain why he didn’t call the police, but he did add that he had many guns. More than just one gun. I got the impression he had more than enough to necessitate the need for a gun rack. So you could say an “armory,” by definition. An armory in his house.
The weirdest moment I felt, and this is all just in the last four months, was at a Walmart. It wasn’t my normal Walmart, but a store just outside the metro area. Rural Missouri, the kinda place that is home to those pictures that inspired People of Walmart.
The obesity specimens alone will give you the chills, but what creeped me out on this day was seeing a guy in the self checkout next to me with a gun on his hip. It was a black semi auto style pistol in a neat holster, very visible outside his tucked-in shirt. He seemed to carry himself in a way to brandish the gun around, make sure people saw it. Keeping that hip on his outside, as a deterrent to the would-be rampage shooters lurking in the shadows.
I paid and started toward the exit when the idea occurred to me to ask the store management if they have a policy. I wouldn’t want them to say anything to this guy, but I’m just curious. Obviously it’s legal in this county or state or whatever to walk around with a gun on your hip. But does Walmart allow it? You must have a policy. Obviously you couldn’t do that at a bank.
But then I realized where I was and imagined getting laughed at. “Were you scared, snowflake? Go back where you came from, libtard!”
So I just left.
A reader of this blog came and visited the house a couple months ago. He’s a redneck from Missouri (in his own words), and he carries a gun. He left it in his car for the visit, which I appreciated. He didn’t do much evangelizing (which I also appreciated), because he probably knows how I feel.
I don’t like guns. I don’t like to be around them. And with three small children in the house, I just can’t imagine anything good coming from having a gun in the house even for a short time. On the other hand, I can imagine all kinds of scenarios which aren’t at all far-fetched that end in tragedy haunting me for the rest of my life.
I thought about getting a sign like at the banks or the license office: “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED.” It could go next to the “NO SMOKING” signs at my front and back doors.
But a sign like that would start more of these conversations that I’m trying not to have. And that’s what this article is about. I am aware many of my readers are deranged gun enthusiasts themselves. Not just owners of deer rifles or a little revolver for taking the business’s deposits home from work late at night, but owners of the kinds of guns that shoot up schools.
I’m not trying to convince you, them or anybody to change their mind. I’m just telling a repat chronicle. Something has changed. All these anecdotes happened in just four months. It wasn’t like this before I left in 2008.
And this is what I was telling my wife that day. There gun enthusiasts have grown more deranged. They’re like a cult, or at least a religion. The Church of the Second Amendment. So don’t go sweating those mass shootings. We already had more guns than people in the country, so new restrictive laws wouldn’t put a stop to those rampages in a timely fashion anyway. And given the degree of derangement, I don’t see any restrictive laws coming down the pike. Better to accept what you cannot control.
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