January 18, 2016
“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” (William Burroughs, Grand Street no. 37, 1992)
Let me state, for the record, that I’m not in favor of selling guns at 7-Elevens or from street vending machines. There are, however, a few nagging questions about gun ownership I want to scratch, claw, and flagellate, so follow along as I try to take apart a weird, wacky, and wonderful subject.
We’ve all heard this one: if a politician wants to disarm the public, he should give up his own security protection. See how he likes it.
What is it about politicians that gives them a special right to have armed professionals stalk their perimeter and mumble into their collars?
I can think of two reasons. One, pols are important. We need them. We need them more than we need, say, electricians or plumbers or pizza delivery boys or dentists.
I fail to admire the class distinction. And that’s putting it generously. In the overwhelming number of cases, the wounding or killing of a politician would result in another pol, very much like him, moving in to take his place. The new entry would vote along party lines, at the instruction of his superiors. He would commit the same unconscionable actions. He would display the same level of incompetence. Or, if you believe politicians are honorable and even insightful, then surely a pol who is taken out of action could be replaced by another who is endowed with the same admirable qualities.
The second reason: top-tier politicians are very visible. They’re widely known. They’re celebrities. As such, they attract crazies. Therefore, they need security.
Ah, but wait. It starts to get tricky here. What about famous actors and athletes? They, too, have many fans, a small percentage of whom are nuts. These private-sector celebs hire their own guards. They can afford to.
But…many politicians don’t have that kind of money. Therefore, they need government to pay for the hired guns, who are other government employees.
So follow this…if money, no-money is the only distinction here, then rich politicians should certainly pay for their own private guards.
In which case, government regulations should be issued that spell out the level of wealth, the demarcation line. A politician who has at least X assets to his name must hire his own protection. Anything below that and he can avail himself of government help. That makes sense, or am I missing something?
I’d like to see John Heinz Kerry sweep into town with his own private muscle. You know, guys with heavy auto-weapons held across their black undershirts. Maybe a band, too, blasting a Springsteen cover. Just for show. Hillary, on the other hand, could go with an all-girl phalanx of Amazons packing sawed offs. With a few drones overhead. I suspect the President has enough cash stashed away by now to afford his own security. He could go straight Sinaloa, or maybe he’d do a mix of cartel soldiers and Syrian “moderate rebels.”
Of course, there’s always the argument that politicians are under extraordinary threat from foreign enemies, and that’s why they require the kind of government protection plain citizens don’t need. As a counter to that, I would simply offer the gun-violence statistics of America. For some esoteric reason, it turns out that people no one has ever heard of are most likely to become shooting victims.
In any case, no one is supposed to protect himself. That’s for sure. It would be vile, ugly. We expect criminals to shoot people. We’re ready for that. But if a law-biding citizen suddenly fires a weapon, in order, for example, to stay alive, it’s an offense to our sensibilities. It looks bad. He could have been shooting bullets for the wrong reason, and even though he wasn’t, the mere suggestion of it is enough to disturb us. We’ve been “triggered,” psychologically. We are the victims. And we must demand justice.