I did not publish this book to argue about guns
- I did it to stimulate thinking about gun violence, self-defense, and our criminal justice system.
- Gundown offers thought-starters, not prescriptions for cures.
- It is about community and a promise to help others.
Our common ground
Whether for or against guns, we all have one thing in common—none of us wants to be shot, or to see a loved one hit by a bullet. Let’s start there and find ways to stop the fusillade that riddles our society with death and injury.
Gun violence is undeniably epidemic in America
For me, the unending river of tragic headlines sums up the issue of handguns in America. Here is a sample:
Mistaking her for an intruder, Florida woman shot and killed her 27-year-old daughter
Her husband, a cop, was asleep in their bed. If that handgun hadn’t been there, she would have awakened her husband or called the police. No handgun, no young life lost.
Ohio man mistakes teen son for intruder, kills him
He ended his son’s life when his son was only fourteen. No handgun, no young life lost.
You could argue that these incidents were just cases of self-defense gone horribly wrong. Yes, we need to defend ourselves, but how about this 2015 study of self-defense that found:
American gun owners are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else with their firearm than to stop a criminal.
2-year-old girl shot in face after gun goes off inside mom's purse
Having a gun doesn’t work the way we think it will, or the way the NRA says it does. I have to wonder what would have happened if those parents had had stoppers instead.
Gun violence is about guns
You hear people say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Yes. But only a handgun could lead to this headline:
Couple left four children in a car with a loaded gun, boy accidentally killed his 7-year-old brother
Picture a person you love dearly and then think of a bullet from your gun accidentally ending their life. It could happen. Wouldn’t you give up your gun to prevent that?
9-year-old girl shot in arm by celebratory gunfire
That little girl was leaving church on New Year’s Eve. Police said the round “seemed to be from the voluminous amount of gunfire” happening at the time. Seemed to be?
Milwaukee 2-year-old fatally shoots mother in back
It was the mom’s boyfriend’s handgun, and it slid out from under a car seat. “Smart” guns can prevent accidental shootings by children, but gun stores won’t sell them—a New Jersey dealer was almost driven out of business when he offered them. How about laws requiring every lethal weapon to be a smart gun? Gunmakers would make billions on new or retrofitted guns.
Here’s an insight into guns in the home from a 2014 study:
Bringing a gun into the home substantially increases the risk for suicide for all family members and the risk for women being murdered in the home.
Half of all suicides are done with guns, and attempts made with other methods usually fail. How many of those “gunicides” would still be alive if there had been no gun handy?
If you own a handgun or an assault rifle, let me ask you this: Do you really need a lethal firearm in your home?
It’s about the money
A headline from June 19, 2016:
Orlando shooting makes big profits for gun makers
Yes, the day after forty-nine people were murdered in Orlando, Florida, gun sales and the stock of gun and ammo makers shot up. Whenever mass shootings occur or there is serious discussion of gun control, gun sales soar.
And when we decry the violence and the weaponry used against us, the NRA raises its voice to encourage people to buy more firearms, and to fear losing their guns. It adds to that constant pressure on politicians to stay away from new gun safety legislation. The NRA’s lifeblood (money) comes, of course, from gun and ammo makers.
Whatever happens in America regarding guns is in the hands of the people who control firearms in America, gun manufacturers and their subsidiary, the National Rifle Association. Only if they change their ways can anything happen, and the motivation for what they do or don’t do is money.
That’s why Gundown imagines a way for gun makers to make even more gigantic profits if they turn from lethal firearms to nonlethal defensive weapons. The market is there—more and more of us need some form of self-defense. In a sense, they’ve created it by pushing so many people to buy so many guns.
Gun makers, which sounds like a better idea to you: serving the existing and increasingly saturated gun market and living in a country where your kids could be shot at school or you at a movie theater, or becoming hugely wealthy by walking away from that to create and promote nonlethal self-defense weapons?
To the majority of politicians who fail to give this deadly issue the debate and consideration that we the people need because they fear political repercussions, I say how about a little guts? Lives depend on it. The American public and most gun owners support gun safety laws.
Where I come from on guns
I grew up in Texas in the 1950s. I owned guns—BB guns, pellet rifles, a .22 rifle, a shotgun, a .38 revolver—and hunted for many years. I enjoy shooting guns, I’m a good shot, and it’s fun. Like most men of that time, I never even questioned my right to have any gun I wanted. When I was sixteen, I bought that .38 revolver by mail order (my parents never knew about it).
I started working on this story about twenty years ago (as I write this, it is 2016). It was sparked by an attack on an elementary school in Stockton, California, when five schoolchildren were killed. It started me thinking about what, if anything, could be done to deal with gun violence. It was clear that gridlocked government was powerless to change things. That led to the insight that the key lies with gunmakers—and the money.
What about self-defense?
Ours is an increasingly dangerous society, and a great deal of the danger exists because, with 300 million guns littering our country, criminals, radicalized militants, and the insane can easily obtain weapons to slaughter innocent students or office workers or bystanders or wives and girlfriends. Month after month, year after year, the news reports assault after assault, killing after killing.
In Gundown, citizens are encouraged to carry nonlethal defensive guns. A lot of people would feel safer if they had a stopper—I know women who have been raped, and I’m sure they’d like to have delivered a shot of tangle to the attacker’s crotch.
If market forces get behind a move to replace lethal firearms with a new kind of defensive weapon that will bring the gun and ammo makers billions in profit, who knows what might happen?
To those who fear ourselves
Some folks fear tyranny from our government. Here’s what Sgt. John Love, a Vietnam vet and gun owner says about that:
“I am a Nam vet, two tours. I own a Dirty Harry style magnum Smith & Wesson, a coach side-by-side 12 gauge, a long rifle, a target pistol, and so forth. I do not need an assault rifle added to my arsenal to protect myself, or thirty rounds jammed in my weapon. I am not living in fear that my government is secretly at war with me and that I am going to have to fight them off at any moment. I am not under any misguided misconception that my guns will do me any good if my government did come after me. It would be like bringing a damn slingshot to a guided missile duel. Get over it.”
America has the strongest democratic government in the world. There’s no need to fear each other, and certainly no need to arm ourselves with military weapons to kill each other. We have peaceful ways to work things out.
If someone does come to “take your guns,” it can only happen if a majority of your fellow citizens have voted for them do so. If you accept and exercise the freedoms and benefits of living in a democracy, then you should also live by its rules.
Did you know that conservative Republican president Richard Nixon wanted a federal ban on handguns?
And how about ultraconservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who said,
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited . . .” It is “. . . not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
Yes, even he concluded that the kinds of guns we own can be regulated and controlled.
We pride ourselves on being a nation that lives by the rule of law. Well, the Constitution does not grant a right to own an assault rifle. The Supreme Court—rule of law—has held that there’s no barrier to state laws limiting the nature of guns that can be owned. There’s already a 1934 federal law that in effect stopped ownership of machine guns. More recently, in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that:
“. . . machine guns are not protected arms under the Second Amendment.”
There is no legal or constitutional reason we can’t ban weapons that are suitable only for—and created specifically for—killing.
Gundown is about a lot more than guns--it's about our criminal justice system, too: what's really a crime, what punishment should be.
I hope you'll read it and post a review on Amazon.com.