By Christopher Cudworth
Before anyone gets all hot and sweaty about what they’re about to read, know that I am not against the right to own guns. I respect the Second Amendment like every other aspect of our Constitution. But it is important to consider the state of gun ownership rights in America, and what it really might mean to the future of the country if we fail to grasp the portion of the Second Amendment that says we must maintain “a well-regulated militia.” So what you are about to read is a playful consideration with regards to the “other half” of the Second Amendment has to say. Now half fun.
Concealed Carry in the Land of Lincoln, who would be proud…
Here in Illinois (the Land of Lincoln) the courts just knocked down the last remaining concealed carry weapons ban in the country. We must suppose that makes a whole lot of people happy to be able to carry guns around hidden on their person.
Yet one simply must wonder what our 16th President Abraham Lincoln might have thought of the new law, considering that Lincoln himself was shot in the head from behind by a gunman who concealed his weapon, crept into a theater and assassinated the President in cold blood. Concealed carry indeed.
Violent fantasies and other practical matters
Let’s face it, we all have violent fantasies at times. I know I’ve fantasized about having a gun on me while running and riding on the very public roads of our state. When a truck or car buzzes me on the bike or while running (less common, but it still happens) it would certainly be tempting to shoot out the tires of the offending driver at the next stop light. After all, using a vehicle to harass or threaten a harmless cyclist really is a life-threatening gesture. We would be justified in pulling out our weapons to protect ourselves in those instances.
More than perceived threats
When a motorist is motivated enough to stop their vehicle and yell threats at you, like the time a guy with a bright red angry face and veins bulging out of his forehead leaned out of his pickup truck to yell at me, “I should come over there and break your f#cking pencil neck.” Well, that’s pretty much a clear threat of physical harm, wouldn’t you say?
If he actually got out of his truck, it would be fair and right to shoot him in the kneecap or right in the balls if I wanted. Because he shows a lot of balls getting so worked up over a 170 lb. cyclist on a 17lb. bike on a bright day in August when there’s plenty of room for everyone on the road if you have the basic intelligence to separate hazards, as Illinois motor laws suggest, rather than blasting around like a Humvee in the Iraqi desert. But perhaps we’re mixing fantasies here. Are we really at war for ownership and use of the roads here in America?
Packing heat while riding
Yes, I’ve had fantasies of packing heat while riding. And I’m curious (I suppose) how it would make me feel to have a handgun concealed in the back of my cycling kit pocket along with a Clif bar and my cellphone. I mean, think of the native possibilities there. If need be, I could shoot someone in so-called self defense, break out my Clif bar, take a bite, spit out some chunks in a fit of justified revenge (just like Clint Eastwood!) and dial up the cops to come get the body.
That’s the American form of justice we’re advocating these days. With laws like Stand Your Ground (Fla.) in force, you can logically or even illogically shoot someone for the reasons you choose. As reported on the Huffington Post, the story of the most recent fatal shooting in that state goes like this: “According to authorities, 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis, a black teenager, and several friends were confronted by (Michael) Dunn, a white man, who pulled alongside the teens’ SUV in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station. Dunn asked them to turn their music down, and after an exchange of words, he fired between 8 and 9 shots at the vehicle, several of which hit Davis, causing his death.”
The case may yet be decided in favor of Dunn (depending on Florida’s brand of justice), but there are a whole range of gray areas to consider. Was the shooting racially motivated? Was Dunn justifiably threatened by the teens playing loud music in the car? The list goes on.
Roll Your Ground
Now imagine that some cyclist in Florida is pedaling down the road and a vehicle flagrantly drives too close to the biker. Those of us who ride (and run) know that happens with some degree of frequency. Now imagine that the cyclist chases down and pulls up next to the vehicle at the next stop light, whips out a gun and shoots the driver in the face. There you have it, a violent fantasy comes to life.
The Ted Nugent Law
America’s “favorite” gun-toting, rock ‘n rolling gun rights advocate Ted Nugent says, “The only misuse of guns comes in environments where there are drugs, alcohol, bad parents and undisciplined children. Period.”
Which of those supposed environments was in play in Florida with Michael Dunn? All of them? Or was Dunn just a pissed off dude lacking self respect and self control who wanted to teach someone a lesson of his own accord.
And if the Ted Nugent Law were invoked, how does it apply in the case of the murders at Northern Illinois University where a gunman walked into an academic lecture hall and opened fire, killing students, or Virginia Tech, or Columbine, or a shopping mall? Nugent is a liar, you see. His ideology presupposes real law, and his is a worldview obsessed by self-interest. But that is exactly where we are in America right now. No wonder so many gun rights advocates like his “clear talk” about guns, meat and the apparent vegetable brains of liberals who dare question any aspect of gun laws. It suits their hatred of anyone they envision infringing upon their so-called rights.
Go ahead and use it when you lose it
We can talk about “responsible gun owners” all we want. We certainly need to maintain the right of an individual to protect their own home, family and property by use of force if necessary.
But we’ve burst out of that model so that now all 50 states have essentially said that it is right to hide a gun on your person and use it, if necessary, when you judge yourself to feel threatened. That is vigilante justice. Stop pretending it isn’t.
Operationally, there really are no laws when it comes to guns, so let’s quit mincing words here. With concealed carry in effect in all 50 states, people can buy and use guns however they like, then plea to the courts for support of their mission after someone else has lost their life. Right or wrong.
The open road is an open range
That means as cyclists and runners we can pack heat just like we carry water. And we can fire away at anyone on the road we deem to be a threat.
Wowzers! That should make the Saturday group ride quite an interesting venture. It will be like the posse days in the Wild West. Ride around for 50 miles looking for trouble, if you like. Shoot out a few tires. Take down a few dogs. Blast that minivan with the distracted mom talking on the cell phone and swatting the kids in the back seat. When she swerves at your group, plug her Caravan with 50 bullet holes. Never mind the kids inside. Legally, they’re parties to the potential crime of vehicular homicide. Seriously. Those little bastards will learn to settle down and shut up now, or pay the price.
Let’s say you have 20 people in your group ride, all packing heat. There’s no reason you can’t function like a freaking rolling militia out there, protecting the general public from bad drivers and vehicular miscreants.
Bike Wars and the Tour de France
We might even start a new cycling sport and a reality TV show to boot: Bike Wars. There will likely be a lot of holes in stop signs as a result, the result of target practice while riding along. Gives new meaning to the phrase “blowing a stop sign.” Just put a camera on a motorcycle and the peloton can roll across the countryside waving pistols and AK-47s at anyone who dares step on the road in front of them.
Imagine what that kind of force can do in a race like the Tour de France! That guy running ahead of Alberto Contador in the bright green string thong? El Pistolero can pull out the Real Thing and take him down. Let’s just say the climbs up Alpe du Huez will look a lot more orderly when pro riders carry concealed weapons.
Can cliches kill people?
We’ve all heard the line “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” But when you consider that 50% of gun deaths in America are by suicide, the facts seem to circle back on themselves, don’t they? Without use of a gun, we can suppose that people will find other ways to kill themselves, of course, and they do. But guns make it a whole lot easier to shoot yourself dead. And what is left after the deed? The gun, of course. Is it an innocent victim of the act of suicide? Hardly.
The tragedies of gun violence have claimed the lives of so many, and almost claimed many others. JFK. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bobby Kennedy. Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest. And John Lennon was shot dead in the streets of New York. Apocryphal, isn’t it? Happiness is a Warm Gun.
Are we giving up?
Have we begun to give up trying to make sense of the number of guns present in America? In his book “I Want You To Shut The F#ck Up,” author/actor/comedian D.L. Hughley begins his chapter on guns with these words: “I have been around guns my entire life. I will be around guns for the rest of my life. Any attempt to get guns off the street is an impossibility––and a policy based on the impossible is a failure at best and counterproductive at worst.”
Hughley’s words remind us that we are reaching a tipping point where the American imagination is succumbing to our inability to interpret the Second Amendment with any sense of balance.
The side of America that seeks to legislate common sense on the purchase and use of guns is being browbeaten and overwhelmed by a swarm of people addicted to to the notion that guns not only equal justice, they define it in both a legal and active sense.
We see it every day in our movies, on TV and on the daily news, where nightly newscasts about gun violence sell viewership by feeding the notion that somewhere out there is an American we’ve got to fear. So perhaps we have created a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Who is it we choose to fear? The potential lists are unlimited. A black American? A teen playing loud music? Maybe even a distracted mom driving a minivan threatens to run over cyclists or runners?
Do we all really need guns to protect ourselves from these fears? Looks like we do: we’re halfway there in terms of the number of guns in American compared to households.
The Whatevers Are Coming
Some people invoke the notion that as a nation we need guns to protect ourselves in the event of foreign invasion. But what is the real likelihood of anything on that order happening? Our country already spends more on military defense than the next 17 countries combined. We can blow up the entire planet 50 times over, so you won’t be needing your handguns to fight the Chinese or whoever you choose to fear. True sovereignty has succumbed to the tsunami of frightened self-interest.
Now we have the doomsday nuts on top of all that.
Let’s face it, America has gone insane over guns.
Required gun ownership?
A leading conservative talker on the Bill Maher show Politically Incorrect once said that he thought Americans should be required to own guns.
Well, that really is the law in Switzerland. But that is a country where it makes sense to own guns considering the presence of all those mischievous gnomes and faeries running around the forests hillsides. They’re literally taking over Scandinavia, those freaking tiny fantasy creatures.
We don’t want those threats to get out of hand like that here in America, where it could happen just as easily. Just look at how the Christmas season has taken over much of our calendar. Someone had better shoot Santa Claus, for starters, because he’s the ultimate home invader.
Let’s get Jesus while we’re at it. After all, the Good Shepard was an anti-government anarchist who encouraged disciples to mooch off other people and wipe the dust off their feet if they didn’t like how they were treated. Jesus was a threat to society. Better take him out too.
Don’t point fingers
The only gun I could find in the house today is pictured in the photo above. I point it at a lot of things these days, because it’s hard to find things to write about if you don’t keep an eye on what’s happening in the world. But I’m also pretty careful not to use the wrong finger, such as the middle one, in case someone gets the message I’m pointing a f#ck you weapon at them. After all, given the new concealed carry laws in Illinois, pointing the wrong finger can get you shot.