Guns don't kill people.
People kill people.
Bad people kill people.
Mad people kill people.
Sad people kill people.
Kids kill people.
Uncaring people killed my people.
And now, it is possible that dead people can kill people.
Why should I not die when my life has been shot from around me. People killed my people. People using guns provided by uncaring people. Mad people; sad people; bad people. Shall I die or shall I kill? Am I sad or bad or mad or uncaring enough to kill? Am I sad or bad or mad enough to be killed?
It is easy enough in this land of the free to get a gun. But guns don't kill people. I need some mad, bad or sad people to pull the trigger. What about good people? Maybe some good people could use a gun to kill my misery. Yes, suicide by police. I have heard of this. They are good people and they have guns. But they are not uncaring people. Would caring people become sad people if they killed? Would I be responsible for making more people who kill? No, I cannot use caring people to kill my misery.
Suicide by uncaring people. The people who make it so easy to put mad and sad and bad people where they can kill. Yes. To kill my misery and perhaps to make them care. At least to make them work.
The "out there" people strut. They strut with their guns lovingly strapped over their shoulders or in their holsters or in their hands. Guns with wooden stocks and grips polished by constant caress. Guns of metal warmed to the temperature of human flesh as they are nursed by the people who care for them. Guns with mechanisms oiled and cleaned and stroked. Thirteen people strut in the car park. A "Baker's Dozen" - thirteen - unlucky for some. They boast to each other that guns don't kill people, but as free people they can kill people. And they look at the other people - those in the Diner - those who do not caress guns.
No, those in the Diner do not caress guns. Nor do they caress anything else either. Those people sit cold and erect on the scratched vinyl benches with cold and empty cups in front of them. Those people do not caress their children. They do not caress their lovers or their husbands or their wives, or possibly their mothers or their fathers. Because those people really know that people kill people. Now, those people want to make the future a little different. Maybe just a little better. Maybe just a slight change. Just from "people kill people" perhaps to "people hurt people". They know they will not achieve "people love people". Maybe without the temptation of a warm, silky smooth gun then that wife would just have a black eye, or that child a bloodied nose. Black or bloody but not killed. Could those in the Diner get the law-makers to lessen the free flow of metal that makes true the phrase "people kill people"? I don't think so. That is why I am not in there with them. Asking the Legislature to ban guns will never work. Even asking them to licence ownership is going to incense too many. You'd certainly have more luck introducing universal health care. But the people outside strutting around the car park are not so sure. What if those people meeting in the Diner get a sufficient sympathy vote to make a change! The people outside would rather die than loose their objects of affection. I am hoping they may kill for it too.
I can not, I will not, buy a gun. Even in this land of the free, I do not think anyone would sell me a gun. It is too soon and even the shop owners remember for a little while when the television keeps showing them proof that people kill people; that people kill children; that people kill. I will not buy a gun. I will not give money to those who would profit. No matter - there are many guns.
The baker's dozen continue to strut. Mostly men, but some women too, with their beautiful guns. They say with their presence that, with their guns, they are more free and more right than those weaklings in the Diner. They say that even while those in the Diner mourn the loss of children or parents, they will not accept the loss of their guns.
The day is overcast, as is fitting. A cold wind blows and those 13 and I should be cold. But we are all hyped up. They are strong, free and strutting their stuff - confident in their right. Which one will do me a favour?
The sixty-something year old? He holds a bolt action rifle across his chest. Close to his heart. Does he hunt? Has he taken his children and his grandchildren into the forests to track rabbits or deer? Does he try to become one with the forest, mingling his spirit with those of his prey? Does he show his children how to respect the hunt and the hunted; how to give thanks for the animal life he is hoping to take? Does he consider hunting as a release of the spirit? Both his own and his prey's?
The girl? Tight jeans, calf high boots and a fake flight jacket all set off with pretty clutch purse from which she repeatedly draws and replaces a short barrelled pistol. Did she pick this herself as a wardrobe accessory? Was it a gift from a father who wanted to protect his little girl? Or maybe a gift from a boy friend who wanted to get her something a little on the dangerous side to let her know he really was cool?
What about the boy hovering about our girl? A hoody from the local university, thrown over a stripy shirt and black jeans that are just a bit short. The clothes don't make this boy, but does he hope the gun over his shoulder makes him into something in the eyes of the others. Sights, polish and the extended magazine of a fully automatic do attract the others to look and to touch during their Brownian motion around the car park. Is he a bit of a loner or just lonely? Is his ownership of a top of the market fully automatic rifle a cry for friends to notice him or an admission that he could never hit anything with just one shot?
The three Business men in their suites oh so typical. All black with pin stripes. All successful, even if not equally successful. It is amazing how much success can be seen in the quality of the cut of the cloth, in the lustre of the shoe shine, in the simple lines of the gun. A gleaming long barrelled revolver in the hands of one who uses it to punctuate his enviable board meeting skills. He is naturally a leader, with his height and his confidence, and his stock options, and his bank account. His children are grown up and independently successful and his young wife looks up into his eyes confident he will provide. Then there is the Colt of the traditionalist who is making a good living but not sure if he is making enough to send his kids to that School they want to go to. It is a good and reliable if old gun, just as he considers himself as good and reliable. The owner of the point forty five is a little guy with a gun that can make a big hole. A little guy who needs to make it big in business because he needs to impress his wife and keep her with the clothes and jewellery she needs to impress her friends. These three are here to show solidarity with those who need guns. They are not really the same as these others, but the love and need of the gun is a strong bond.
A quiet, dignified man stands to one side. An honest suit. A matching black leather holster, clipped down, comfortably but stylishly on his hip. He smiles a dispassionate support without quite joining in. A professional, but at what? I suspect he might be with the National Rifle Association, keeping an eye out for trouble.
Another two walk together, maybe brother and sister. Originally from farming stock. He has a shotgun over his shoulder. It looks as though it may have been handed down through the generations - simple lines, no fancy extras, but polished and well cared for. A gun from an earlier, an easier, time. She has a revolver in an open holster at her hip. A simple functional gun. Of those here, she looks like the one who is mostly likely to just treat a gun as a necessary tool. Her face looks open and honest like a hard working country girl is supposed to look like. But as she approaches I notice her eyes have the signs of betrayal. Someone or something has hurt her, but that is not going to happen again. Her brother, or maybe he is her husband, does not bear the marks of betrayal, but his eyes do suggest that the world is too complex for him. Maybe life in the country was simple, and his shotgun was only for hunting rabbits. But here, in this city, his gun may need to be called on for other things. He does not know what those other things may be, but he does know that the girl by his side should not have that ice cold shard of the betrayed, should not need to hold a tool designed solely to stop people from betraying her again. He is here today beside her, for her, but without knowing really why she is here.
The stereotypical people are here too. Some stride around with their guns and their pride. Their guns range from the cheap to the showy, from functional to status symbol, from just enough to treasure. They stalk the Reporters who hover around the edges of the possible confrontation. Their walk and their look and even their clothes declare it is their constitutional right to have a gun, many guns. It is their constitutional right to defend themselves from those who might attack them or threaten to disarm them. It is their constitutional right to be stronger than the others, to be better defended, to be superior. It is their constitutional right to be right. And the reporters tell a story. They tell a story of these 13 people with their guns and their rights. They tell a story of these 13 who are standing up for their rights. How this brave band of only 13 are representing all those law abiding citizens who do not want to be called criminals because they are prepared to defend themselves with honestly acquired guns. They tell a story that limiting guns to only those who would break the law will kill more people and lead to more blood shed. They tell the story that a good man with a gun is needed to stop a bad man with a gun. The anchors back at the various news studios cut to the stock footage of those who are in the diner grieving over too small coffins. They cut to the Pastor who says that although lives have been cut tragically short, but there must be comfort that the tragic deaths may lead to a better world. But no one cuts to me. No one wants to recall my words about the automatic weaponry or the hunting rifles that are beloved of those who know their constitutional rights. The reporters know their job. The reporters know they need tension, they need people to stay watching. They know the fine difference between graphic detail that attracts and graphic truth that offends.
I think I know my job too. I watch. Those in the cafe talk, they try to form a strategy that may limit the power of guns in the city. But mostly they glance as those outside strut. Those with the guns are winning. Those who struggle for the words are not. The reporters watch, either way their images and words will win them another pay day. Something must happen soon. The police will do nothing, can do nothing. The cafe will close. Those inside are scheduled to go home to cold and empty places that used to be homes. Those who were outside will go to public places to celebrate. For the living, life will go on.
Now. Casual but not too casual. A hint of a strut. The hooded boy starts to turn as I touch that most vital part of him. The beginning of a slight smile of pride as he thinks yet another comes to praise his weapon. His eyes though quickly turn to incomprehension as my hand slides along the rifle and clicks the safety. Well maintained, well oiled, well loved, a small but distinct click. "But..." he begins in a voice of bewilderment. I slip my finger through the trigger guard and pull. The heavens open and the hammer of the thunder god strikes. Lightning strikes the scene and I see open mouthed O's from the cafe. Those outside do not strut in the flash. They stand in mute worship. They stand now as mindless actors in a play. I imagine hearts are struggling to race, to enter the flight or fight response that loud noises engender. Several reporters, veterans of countless shootings in this city, are already diving for cover. My heart though, for the first time in months slows, anticipating peace.
The youth and his rifle are being pulled from my hand when the next hammer strikes. Bang and flash, and the rifle skews further around in recoil roaring its power into the sky. My finger is dislocated yet still firmly on the trigger as round after round races skywards and the hooded youth staggers still entangled in his weapon. Any moment now and people will kill people.
I hear a god strike. A gun in the hands of someone who can kill has spoken. I await. Will it be quickly dark? Will it hurt, or burn, or even freeze? I raise my hands to the heavens releasing the trigger. I hear a quiet "oh..." and wonder for a moment if that was to be the beginning of my last words. But then another god strikes from another part of the realm. The hooded youth knocks me as he falls, and then my hand begins to signal its agony.
A drum beat continues in my ears. Is it the sound of my heart or the ongoing hammer? Surely I should be fading from this woe filled world by now. I should not be able to hear the call of ambulance sirens. I should not be able to hear the screaming of the reporters either injured by the people who kill people or shouting about their scoop.
People do kill people, but on this occasion, people did not kill me.