THE BLOG
12/13/2007 07:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Do You Need a Gun?

I don't. I hope never to find myself in a situation where I would have needed one to protect my life--though I concede that this is a dire possibility in a country where guns seem so prevalent. They are designed for only one purpose: to kill. And I myself am enough in tune with Buddhist teachings to believe that the taking of life is wrong in any circumstance--and, yes, that includes the saving of my own. I'm not naïve enough to believe that I wouldn't resort to violence in order to preserve my life, but I would not prepare for that contingency with the purchase of a gun.

In this context, I find it strange and profoundly unsettling that in all the news media reports on the recent senseless killing sprees in Nebraska and Colorado, I have heard virtually nothing about the guns that were used. If anyone has been speculating about how a deadly assault weapon ended up in the hands of a teenager who was well known by authorities to be mentally unstable and a young man whose rage and hatred were already on record, I have not heard or read it.

I'm ready to stick my neck way out here and say that I find it incomprehensible and disgraceful that this sad history should have been allowed to repeat itself yet again in a country that suffers the evident delusion of being civilized. It's incomprehensible and disgraceful that the question is not in the headlines of the media and on the tongue of every presidential candidate.

And has anyone given any thought to how sad it is that a church should need to employ armed guards in this "Christian" country? Apparently the Colorado case is confirmation of the need for such protection, since the assassin was killed (in a timely fashion, true) by a woman security officer. We can be grateful to this brave woman that many lives were spared, and at the same time rue the fact that her presence was necessary.

Is this not yet another piece of evidence that what we are pleased to tout to the rest of the world as our "democracy" is, at best, a malfunctioning oligarchy, at worst, a mere plutocracy? Are we not ashamed that a small minority of fanatics should be able to intimidate our leaders and our representatives into continued support for a policy that the vast majority find loathsome? How could anyone in their right mind believe that those who authored the founding documents of this country intended that fire power be readily available to morons and maniacs alike ("militias," anyone?)--let alone weapons of a destructive power that would have been unimaginable to those good men?

I am perplexed. Here is candidate Rudy Giuliani, formerly a rational proponent of gun control to stem the violence in the city of which he once was mayor, now doing a volte-face in order to escape the displeasure of the National Rifle Association and its followers. There is a row of Republican candidates confronted with an absurd and hostile UTube question from a pry-it-from-my-cold-dead-hands yahoo, rushing to surrender simple good sense to political contingency.

As for the Democratic candidates, check this out: Senator Biden "does not have a policy on gun control." Senator Clinton "does not have a policy on gun control." Senator Barack Obama "does not have a policy on gun control." Same with Edwards, Of the whole bunch of them, only Sen. Mike Gravel even has a statement: "While Senator Gravel fully supports the 2nd Amendment," it reads, "he believes that fundamental change must take place with regards to gun ownership. The senator advocates a licensing program where a potential gun owner must be licensed as well as properly trained with a firearm before they may own one." Well, bully for him. But what a weak-kneed, milquetoast qualification. (Dennis Kucinich, I'm happy to say, was rated "F" by the NRA, but I could not find a policy statement on his site.)

So where is sanity? When do we begin to recognize that not every American citizen needs, or has a right to an assault weapon to protect his home, his family, his person. As for those who choose to hunt deer, or bears, or rabbits, or squirrels, or whatever other of God's creatures they like to assassinate, are shotguns and rifles not weaponry enough for their valiant efforts?

Actually, I'm beyond perplexed. I'm outraged. And no, I don't need to go our and buy a gun for my defense.