TO THE man I sat next to on my way in to Boston:Okay -- some of this I believe. The rest of it, not so much. I don't believe that anyone in a sitting position has ever uttered the phrase "run red with blood." Standing before an angry mob while waving a pitchfork -- yeah, under those circumstances someone might say those words out loud. But sitting on a commuter train talking into an iPhone? I don't think so.
When I boarded the commuter rail, you were already in the midst of a spirited phone conversation and didn’t seem to care about how loud you were talking. You were talking with someone about the Paris train attack and the growing epidemic of gun violence in America.
You spoke about the “murderous NRA” and “bloodthirsty gun nuts” who were causing our schools to “run red with blood.” You spoke profanely of the Republicans who opposed President Obama’s call for “sensible gun control,” and you lamented the number of “inbred redneck politicians” who have “infiltrated Capitol Hill.”
But fine -- your seatmate was insulting gunners. Go on.
I found myself amazed at the irony of the situation. While you were spewing your venom, I sat quietly next to you with my National Rifle Association membership card in my wallet and my 9mm pistol in its holster. You were only 12 inches away from my legally owned semiautomatic pistol. I suppose I didn’t look like the “bloodthirsty gun nut” you thought I should be. It apparently didn’t register to you that I could so cleverly disguise myself by wearing a fleece coat, Patriots hat, and khakis.I try to avoid yokel stereotypes on this blog. I do this not just because they're often inaccurate and bigoted, but because they're a big reason that gunners like this letter writer are so self-righteous. One of the reasons so many Americans "cling to guns" is that they think we think they're dumb hicks for owning guns, and they want to do whatever we hate. Even the large percentage of gun owners who back certain gun control provisions inevitably stand with the NRA when it opposes those provisions because we support the provisions, and they don't want to do anything we favor.
That being said, here's a guy with a gun on what I assume was a fairly crowded commuter train. If I'm his seatmate, how should I feel about this? He says I should fall on my knees in gratitude.
So, to the angry liberal who sat next to me on the commuter rail: I don’t hate you. I don’t have any ill feelings toward you.Okay: define the word "prepared." Have you ever done anything like that before? Have you suddenly reacted to a violent attack by pulling out your precious gun and defending the lives of innocent people? Have you ever even done a drill that simulates such a situation?
... let me say this as plainly as I can: If a bad guy with a gun had decided to walk onto that train and start shooting people, I would have been prepared and able to use my gun to defend my own life and the lives of everyone else on that train, including yours. Although you may hate me, a gun owner, I would risk my life for you.
Or is your belief that you'd save the day under these circumstances just a matter of gun theology? We all know the scripture: Private gun ownership is the principal guarantor of freedom, therefore every gun owner would be a hero in an active shooter situation, by definition.
Sorry, I don't buy it.
Opinions and ideologies make a pretty thin shield against the bullets of a madman. Your liberal self-righteousness and ignorance may have made you feel superior and comfortable, but during that 40-minute train ride to Boston, my gun kept you safe."My gun kept you safe" -- so you say, without offering a shred of evidence except your undiluted faith in yourself. Forgive me if I'd rather not trust to that.
And if there's an active shooter situation on my commuter train, why did that happen? Could it be because you and your fellow gunners have made gun buying staggeringly easy in most of America, and absurdly easy even for criminals, dangerous ideologues, and the violently paranoid? Gee, thanks for guaranteeing that you'd save your fellow commuters' lives, but first you helped put those lives in danger. People like you are the self-proclaimed solution to a problem people like you made epidemic.
We didn't ask you to pack heat in public in the belief that, if the worst happens, your Walter Mitty fantasies would come true. We'd like you to help us dial down the violence, not accept its current level as a given. But helping to reduce is something you won't do. If you change your mind, then we'll thank you.