was what we all learned to do as kids in school, as part of our drill against nuclear attack. at the risk of being too vulgar for a clergyman in public, when we turned teenagers we defined it as bending over and kissing our ass goodbye because that was how effective we all esteemed the practice to be.
a colleague has a blog in which there has been a conversation about guns, and whether in the light of several killing sprees they ought better to be managed. i am noting this because this issue never fails to arouse intense feelings. having once lived in the rootin' tootin' republic o' Texas i well remember the zeal folks can have about this.
but it became infinitely tragic this past week when a fellow in Pittsburgh, convinced by an assortment of Internet rumors that the new administration was secretly planning to confiscate private fire arms or something close to that, decided to take his own life and that of several police officers in response.
now, i admit and affirm that trying to control violence by banning guns is as useless as 'duck and cover.' but that does not mean nothing can be done at all. if air raid drills cannot save us, treaties and other things have nuclear war far less likely.
like the struggle over abortion, we risk falling into a black/white, yes,/no, right/wrong mind set about guns. nothing in human nature can be reduced to this simplistic level of choice. and that's exactly the problem. there are no easy, simple answers to issues like abortion, gun control, obscenity, and more. but passionate feelings drive people to extreme positions they then must defend, creating these perversely stark options, neither of which are workable.
i have no answers here, but i do have questions. one would be asking how firearms can best serve as a good form of defense against violence? sporting use of guns i do not question, and no one of intelligence would either. all the worry attaches to the idea that a firearm can protect us when someone is a danger to us.
but we need to ask what it would take for ordinary people, you and me, to do that. merely owning a gun does not protect us. to assume we all know how to use a gun well, facing danger we did not see coming, and use it effectively, may be more wishful thinking than good judgment.
let's have some thoughtful conversations about the 'civic' role of firearms as a tool for citizens to defend themselves. let's ask what purpose they serve and then how best to preserve that role and how best to prevent misuse. let's have that conversation for a change.
a guy can dream, can't he?