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Greene: Depending On Guns

A few months ago, I was watching a British detective show, Midsomer Murders. The detective inspector was entering an eerily darkened warehouse alone. My first reaction was, “Dude where is your gun??” It wasn’t, “For Pete’s sake, turn on the lights!” Or “Don’t go in there alone! Get some back-up!”I was well aware that British law enforcement tends to pack a lot less heat than ours. It’s just that this time, I’d caught my reaction and realized how thoroughly programmed even a mild mannered writer like myself had become. I had to admit that a gun wouldn’t actually make the cop safer if he couldn’t see ten feet in front of him.

We've been taught that more guns will solve problems. But considerable evidence suggests otherwise.

There was an armed guard at Columbine High School who couldn’t stop the shooters who killed 13 people. And recently we’ve witnessed too many examples of panicking police shooting unarmed citizens. Reflexive, unthinking responses worsen the situations they're supposed to correct.

In 2012, Executive Vice President of the NRA Wayne LaPierre caused a stir when he said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” It took me years to place why that sentence sounded so familiar.Then I recalled hearing a recovering alcoholic say that he used alcohol to solve the very problems that alcohol created. This is as good a definition of addiction as I’ve heard.

I’m not suggesting sportsmen surrender their guns, but I do wonder if we aren’t depending on guns to solve a respect problem. Everything from watching contestants being humiliated on reality TV to poverty level wages conspires to rob people of basic dignity. Even in Congress, we watch leaders treating each other with contempt when they don't agree. And current pop culture often suggests that we must be either very rich or very dangerous in order to be treated decently. For our own safety, and our children’s, we need to examine this notion.

In 1968, a very scruffy looking British rock band was on tour in Texas when their van was pulled over by the police, who asked if they had any drugs in their possession. They truthfully answered they didn’t - they favored a few pints now and then, but drugs weren’t their thing.

The officer then asked if they were carrying any weapons, any guns, knives, clubs. Again, no.

The baffled policeman wondered how they protected themselves.

“Good manners, sir,” was the reply.

Stephanie Greene is a free-lance writer now living with her husband and sons on the family farm in Windham County.
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