Had I grown up on a farm or a ranch, I might see things differently. Had I had a good use for a gun – to protect the sheep from the coyotes or to put down an injured horse – I would likely feel differently.
We all see things through our own eyes. It’s difficult to see through someone else’s eyes when talking about the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Walk into a gun show or a gun shop. What do you see? Do you see the arms of a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state?
The photos of gun shows send chills up my spine. What I see is a drug store for addicts – precision, man-made machinery. Do the tables have on them the equivalent of Methamphetamine or crack cocaine to a gun aficionado?—ready to take the shopper into the illusionary highs of power and invulnerability, the cocoon of god-like power over life and death?
A bow and arrow is a hunting instrument. One shot at a time is all you get or need. The well-regulated militia seen as “necessary to the security of a free state” assumed arms like that: load, shoot…re-load…. Equally important, the “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment was a concession to the demands of the slave-holding states whose plantation economies were threatened by slave revolts. Those “states” insisted on the right to state regulated militias. Once the slaves were freed, the militias took another form: they moved under the white sheets and hoods of the not-so-well-regulated militias of the Ku Klux Klan, burning crosses on the lawns of uppity blacks, and of whites who had forgotten who they were as members of a superior race. “The people” were white supremacists then—are they white supremacists still? Their weapons were midnight torch parades; burning crosses left on unbelievers’ lawns; rifles; and the white militias’ hanging nooses and trees that secured their sorry state of mind.
My experience with guns is shaped in no small part by playing cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians with the neighbors in the back yard of the small town where I grew up. The closest we came to a gun was a water-pistols or a cap-gun. “Bang, bang! You’re dead!” and the victim would fall down playing dead…and then we’d get back up to play again. We were also trying to make sense out the world of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers – shorthand for “good guys” and “bad guys” but even then we sometimes wondered whether maybe the Indians with their bows and arrows were better than the better-armed “good guys” who had conquered them and their land.
When I see a convention center filled with tables of every imaginable pistol, rifle, and semi-automatic, I see an unregulated drug store filled with shoppers sorting through the different brands of methamphetamines. I see a form of legal insanity: the fascination with power and the worship of power over another life.
A friend posted on Facebook a photograph of a hunter posing proudly with the wolf he had killed with his bow and arrow. The arrow was still protruding from the wolf’s left eye. The wolf was dead. The archer was alive and smiling.
What would a shaman say about this picture? Would the totems of a tribal people use the image of the conquered wolf with an arrow protruding through its left eye as a symbol? A symbol for what? Their bravery? Their marksmanship? Where is the sacredness in this picture?
I have no answers, just images to share: The picture of tables with addiction written all over it? “Good guys” protecting themselves from the “bad guys”? “Cowboys and Indians”? The bow and arrow in the wolf’s eye? A well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state?