Shooting up America: Guns are a national disgrace

October 16, 2015 Originally published on SFGate

Guns are, in a word, perfect.

Guns are unparalleled, really; they are small masterpieces of precision engineering, one of humanity’s most deliberate, perfectly designed tools. There is simply no denying a gun’s intention, no possible misunderstanding of its reason for existing.

Unlike cars, knives, drugs, alcohol or any other freely available, potentially deadly items which can (and do) kill lots of people, guns are the only commercially available instrument in the world that we designed specifically for the purpose of the eradication of life. A gun’s nature is, as they say in the tech world, baked in to the hardware. It understands nothing else.

Which is to say: Guns are death made physical, palpable in the hand. They are our basest, least sacred energies – hate, fear, paranoia – compressed into metal and explosives. No one holds or fires a gun without some fundamental understanding of this fact – that he could, if he so desired, kill anything he wanted, right now, in an instant – and that’s essentially all you’re supposed do with it.

The fact that most gun owners do not do this, and manage to resist using their guns for what we specifically created them to do, is merely incidental, and actually a kind of failure: it denies the gun’s primary objective. Gun owners actually know this, as a warped point of pride. “Hey, I own lots of guns and don’t kill things.” How nice for you. Tell it to all the dead.

If past mass shootings are any indication, gun sales in America will enjoy a nice sales surge after the Oregon massacre. Because of course the answer to all the gun deaths is always… more guns.

If past mass shootings are any indication, gun sales in America will enjoy a nice sales surge after the Oregon massacre. Because of course the answer to all the gun deaths is always… more guns.

As the nature of a gun is the abject destruction of life, to use it merely for target practice or for “pleasure” is, essentially, to do it a disservice; you are thwarting its objective, insulting the lethal disposition we ourselves poured into the molten metal. Much like a sports car that “begs” to be driven fast, or an expensive designer dress that begs to be worn to an extravagant gala, a gun begs only to be fired at another living thing, to annihilate it. And eventually, it will be.

This is why we have the headlines all wrong: Guns are not being abused or wielded incorrectly in America. They are not “falling into the wrong hands,” ill-begotten by “evil people” and “crazies” and “psychopaths.” This is not true in the slightest.

Just the opposite, actually. When yet another mass killing occurs, when another woman is murdered by her ex-husband (which happens every single day in America, BTW), when another despondent teen kills herself with her dad’s gun (ditto), when more males – and it is almost always males – shoot each other in the street, when more schoolchildren die at the hands of effortlessly well-armed adults, these are not tragedies. It’s exactly what we expect to happen.

The guns are, in a very real way, just fulfilling the destiny we instilled into them. They are doing exactly what we designed them to do, what we demand they do, as physical extensions of our fear and rage. You can’t shove 10 billion tons of carcinogens into the atmosphere and not expect massive outbreaks of cancer. You can’t put 300 million precision tools of death into the culture and not expect their latent, intrinsic objective to be realized, every single day.

This is why all religious and spiritual traditions the world over agree: Guns are for cowards. They provide only the thinnest illusion of authority, the ugliest veneer of control, the most artificial aspect of authentic manhood.

Proof? Simple: Just remove any gun fetishist’s (or terrorist’s, or mass shooter’s) stockpile of weapons, and watch what happens. They are instantly deflated, lost, rendered vulgar and human. All illusions of power and machismo vaporize, leaving only the base energies of hate and fear they often don’t understand, much less know how to transmute into something like kindness and love.

Do you wish to pretend otherwise? To claim that guns are effective for safety, or self defense, or a warped sense of patriotism? This is not merely laughable, it’s the opposite of the truth, of established fact.

Put it this way: If guns really conferred stability and protection, we’d be the safest, most peaceful nation on Earth. We are, instead, the most violent and deadly. We are viewed the world over as the most dazzling of bullies, and of hypocrites: We pretend to promote the values of democracy, peace and freedom the world over, and yet we kill one another – and anyone who disagrees with us – more horrifically, and more consistently, than any terrorist cult could ever imagine.

The bottom line is simple enough: America is, by every metric you can name, a far worse place for all our guns. They bring nothing of positive, uplifting value: no kindness, no strength, no peace, no divinity, no sense of community or human connection. Quite the opposite. Guns are the antithesis of love and compassion; they advance the human experiment not at all, and in fact, shatter and humiliate it with every pull of the trigger.

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Mark Morford

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