I want a gun for Christmas.
My New Year’s Resolution will be to learn how to carry and use my new gun safely. I will carry my new gun wherever I am legally allowed to carry it and I will abide by all laws. I will use my new gun if I have to, to try to protect any child, young adult or innocent person threatened with being killed. I may prove not to be a good shot – but if I can distract a lunatic trying to kill children and make him come after me, I will be satisfied.
I’ve had enough. This Christmas is unlike any other I’ve known in my 56 years. I can’t forget the profound pain of Newtown Connecticut. I can’t sweep away my shock and dismay so that I can have a jolly holiday. These are parents, just like me, who were supposed to joyfully watch their innocent 6 and 7 year old children setting out cookies for Santa, who were supposed to grumble and tease when their little ones shook them awake too early on December 25, trembling with excitement in this or their own holiday celebration. Instead, the children are literally gone – and the parents are trembling because they cannot imagine life as good ever again, cannot abide the pain.
I’ve had enough of the slaughter of innocents. We are not “healing” today because an angry young man with untreated mental illness barged into a nursing home and gunned down elderly. No one is puzzling over the cold blooded murder of police officers and fire persons as they relax over steaming cups of coffees at the station. Our legislators sit safely behind multiple layers of security in statehouses and the nation’s capital with armed, trained personnel a gasp away should some weapon-bearing young male out of his mind actually get through the protections we have funded for these politicians. No, Newtown’s victims, this year’s victims, like all victim’s of these massacres, are young unsuspecting lives, lives of joy, hope and laughter who knew no cause to be wary or prepared to defend themselves from attack.
It’s been a year of unbridled assault on innocents, harmlessly – obliviously – going about their daily business in schools, on campuses, in churches and temples and at shopping malls. These are the places deranged, angry males favor, armed as if single-handedly braving terrorists in Afghanistan. These males seek out seemingly safe environments, populated by innocent, unarmed people: like only-recently babies sitting at desks for the first time in their lives, trying to stifle giggles (Newtown, MA); like young adults trudging between classrooms, tackling adult schedules and ideas for the first times, trying to focus and get it right (Oakland, CA); like excited movie fans, finally getting tickets to the opening night of a Batman movie (Aurora, CA); like peace-seeking Sikhs worshiping at their temple (Oak Creek, WI); and like holiday shoppers at a mall (Happy Valley, OR). All this, in one year.
Headlines proclaim that survivors, family, friends and everyone as a nation need to “heal” again from the slaughter of innocents. This is starting to seem like some new, twisted exercise of modern life – as if we’ve entered a period of grief and recovery following the sacrifice of virgins to raging gods who humans dare not defy. We are not supposed to be angry. We are cautioned not to be judgmental or make decisions without a full, factual report. We are told that this is a failure of gun regulation and we ought not to arm ourselves in anticipation of more attacks. We are assured laws are coming soon which will prevent the next assault. We are supposed to heal, forgive and move on.
But we all know with chilling certainty that, even as we talk, the next slaughter of innocents is in the planning. We all know that innocence itself is under assault. Mine is not a post to blame people, their ideas or their weapons for the death of 20 small, sparkly eyed children. I support Senator Lieberman’s call for a professional panel to analyze the massacres and recommend measures that can actually begin to get ready to start to give a modicum of protection to the innocents. But, meanwhile, how can we blithely, wistfully ignore that these are murders of the most innocent amongst us – as calculated to affront life itself as Al Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Centers was designed to cause terror? Gun regulation may well be overdue and may help reduce casualties during future assaults on innocents. But even the most avid gun opponents know that guns are the weapon of choice, not the subject of the attack.
For me, time for individual action has arrived. I believe any woman with a child for whom she would lay down her life is reasonable to arm herself, the same way women on the western frontier had guns to protect their young from predators, the same way Jeanne Assam armed herself to protect her congregation. On the morning of December 11, 2007, Ms. Assam shot 24 year old Matthew Murray who entered New Life Church in Colorado Springs “carrying an assault rifle, two pistols and a backpack holding more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.” Ms. Assam was on voluntary security detail for the congregation and carrying a pistol. When Murray arrived at the church and opened fire, there were over 7,000 people in and around the church. He killed two teenagers and injured 3 adults before moving toward the building where Ms. Assam was already alert to the sound of gunshot. Ms. Assam crept up upon him as he entered the building and shot him. According to authorities, that shot saved “untold lives.”
I do not know whether I could handle a gun as well as Ms. Assam did. I do not know whether I could stop a Matthew Murray and limit his carnage. What I do know is that I could try, that I’d have the determination and capacity to distract him and slow him down. I do know that I would be completely prepared to exchange my life for 20 small, bubbly 6 and 7 year olds who might actually get to celebrate Christmas.
I am told that I should not ask for a gun for Christmas. I am told that all schools, churches, temples and colleges should not permit weapons or arm even designated trained administrators, teachers or staff. I have heard year after year, slaughter after slaughter, that we (that is … all of us unprotected persons without armed security details) must “wait for the police to come.” The unarmed teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary school took all this advice. They had no guns. Adam Lanza pursued his murderous plan while the teachers and administrators, with no means to protect the 700 children in their care against the death rampage of this 20 year old male, waited for the police. They waited 20 minutes for their protection to arrive. By the time their “first” responders arrived, the massacre was over. The police did not fire a single shot. “Waiting for the police” no longer makes an ounce of sense in today’s conditions. In today’s world, “wait for the police” is now code for “unchecked slaughter” until the police get there.
I want a gun for Christmas. I will learn how to carry and use my new gun safely and legally. I will use my new gun if I have to; to try to defend the innocents we have somehow left as an unprotected target for males bent on destruction of life. I may not be a good shot – but if I can distract a lunatic trying to kill children and make him come after me, I will be satisfied. I have never thought of asking for a gun for Christmas before, but I never thought we as a country would face Christmas mourning 6 and 7 year children gunned down without a shot fired in their defense. It’s a different Christmas this year – for everyone.