I grew up in a home with guns. As a matter of fact, I recall a cool summer evening years ago, a draft coming in through the open windows, my father kicking off his work shoes. "When I die, what would you like me to leave you?" he asked. I looked at him taken aback. I hadn't ever thought about what I "wanted" from him. I didn't want anything, as he wasn't dying. He shared with me that he was leaving my brother a safe full of -- valuable -- guns.
On April 15, 2013, I sent a wildly intuitive text to a friend, Joshua L. Custer, before I ever heard anything about the bombings in Boston, because "something" had welled up inside of me. I asked, "You alive?" It had been awhile since our last correspondence. To which he responded, "Shit I am. Did you hear about the bomb?" Custer was in Boston at the time.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate decidedly gridlocked on legislation requiring a gun-buyer to successfully pass a background check in order to purchase a gun -- an innocuous requirement, really. In the midst of Boston, in the wake of Sandy Hook, in the aftermath of Colorado, the United States Senate took a pass on saving future lives. I don't care to think about how these old fogies sleep at night, I care to think about the victims of their ambivalence, because all who come after, all those before, are in fact, victims.
By all means, take your time, sir, madam. I think that all have seen the devastation.
Growing up around guns, I never thought twice about the exposure. Our 1981 Ford pick-up truck had a gun rack behind the backseat, and I always knew the potential for a gun to be there -- in my vehicle or in others. My hometown of Mud Lake, Idaho, is famous for a "bunny bash," the object of which was to kill as many bunnies as possible. "Rules -- There are none."
I ask for Boston: What were the rules of the game, here?
This is the kind of gun-toting mentality that frightens me -- the purely irrational kind. Though we have yet to get answers as it pertains to Boston, there's an irrational conceit about the 2nd Amendment among constituents getting lost in the crosshairs post-tragedy.
Recently, a friend -- an Idaho friend -- posted pictures of his children on Facebook wielding semiautomatic rifles in a gun store. The boy first, and because the daughter had felt left out -- he claimed -- she followed. A chilling image. Can any of you think of a good reason as to why a child would feel left out of a picture posing with a gun?
Then there's the Westboro Baptist Church, which totes a different kind of weapon, just as lethal, toting a message of defamation. The lives of victims smeared. All in God's name? I just can't believe in a God like that -- I refuse to.
I'll never forget the time my brother took me out to an empty embankment to shoot tin cans. I was a fast learner, the easiness frightened me -- it was up to no good. I remember a season when my father and brothers took me pheasant hunting. I rode in the backseat of a covered pickup truck, a stoic observer, and future bird-slayer. Post-hunt was less pleasant, with a bird carcass at my feet, and the gnawing of a jovial debate over the better shot, in the cab of the truck on the way home. I couldn't help but think about the vulgarity of it all as I focused in on the lost life.
Worse yet was the first time I ever heard a deer yelp. The impact of a bullet, the natural response to cry out; I was stunned into silence.
After my first response from Custer, I wandered around American University's campus, aimless, looking for a television, something -- anything -- to orient me as to what was going on. I was shocked by the footage of blood-splattered sidewalks, at a naturally celebratory sight, desecrated by human remains.
I texted Custer again, "I have been thinking about you all weekend, and I had no idea that their had even been a bombing when I text you. I'm so relieved that you're okay!"
I thought about what it must have been like to hear the cries of innocent bystanders, like what I had witnessed as a youth nestling into a hillside before watching others point a gun at life, the stillness before the sound. Folks hunting wild game to survive is a "thing," but people hunting people? The fact that we live in a society where individual perpetrators stealthily -- hillside -- hunt the innocent is a sad, disgusting reality. The fact that the United States government is, in a way, taking aim at the innocent by defaulting on change legislation is a whole other thing.
Custer promptly wrote back, "Thank you dear friend!" My gratitude is in his preserved life.
I knew from the moment I heard that deer scream out that I would never be able to hear a cry like that again, at least that I'd never be able to participate in a "hunt" of any kind, again. That's just not the kind of humanitarian that I am. The lack of response by the U.S. Senate only tells me that their sights are narrowed, and their failure to respond is a pronouncement: "Open Season."