I’m not going to characterize this or say anything about it. But I had to share it with you. From TPM Reader PH …
I read about your scary childhood experience and I had to leave work due to the sick feeling in my gut. The sick feeling has been building, maybe since Sandy Hook, but your story forced to write about something I had never written about before.
I accidentally killed my best friend when I was 15. Shot my best friend of eight years a week before we started high school. I was sitting in his room holding his rifle across my legs as he talked about how he had looked it up in some collectors guide and it was worth more than when he got it (Christmas or birthday or something). All the sudden there was a gigantic explosion and the rifle flew off my legs and I looked over as my friend fell over holding his gut and the whole world was tinted a hazy red.
It stayed tinted red for I don’t how long-weeks, months, a year? I sat through hours-maybe an entire day of getting the good cop/bad cop thing down at the police station:
“Did you know the gun was loaded?”-Of course not.
“Why was the gun loaded?”-I don’t know. I didn’t know it was loaded okay?
“Was the safety on?”-I don’t know, it’s all a haze. I can’t remember.
“Was your finger on the trigger? I mean that style of gun is hard to hold unless your finger is by the trigger.”- I don’t know, I don’t know, I mean it must have been, why would the gun go off if it wasn’t.
“Were you two arguing?”-Are you kidding? Of course not…
I don’t know what I said, and the actual events were a blur then and they are a blur now, but eventually they let me go to the hospital. My friend hung around for a couple days and I wandered around in my red, miserable, bad dream. He could squeeze my hand for a while. They let me cry for a while with his weird, bloated-looking body when he finally wasn’t hanging around and he wasn’t squeezing my hand.
There was a funeral. I think a day or two of school was cancelled. I stood there in a stupor, red-tinted, and hugged a million people. People knew we were best friends. My friend and I’s families hugged and cried a bunch; we promised to not be strangers ‘cuz I was still a member of their family (I visited them one more time).
Eventually I was back and school and I imagine people looked at me weird for a while; I was in such a daze I don’t really remember. There was never any sort of legal action. I went and saw some sort of therapist a couple times. They asked me some textbook questions and I gave them some short answers and I guess they were satisfied. I somehow got through that year doing normal activities and then the next one. At some point I wasn’t in the daze anymore, but nothing was ever the same. Over twenty years later I think about it at some point every single day.
So yeah, I don’t really want to be surrounded by people carrying guns. And it isn’t just that I had a terrible experience with guns. I also don’t want them around because I grew up with the Gun “Tribe”. Many of the loudest, baddest, sharpshot, ninja, gun-owners (and part-time Constitutional Scholars) I know are the biggest knuckleheads of my past:
- There is the Facebook “friend” from high school who huffed a lot of gas and never got higher than a C in any class (especially history/social studies)? Yep, he is now an (unofficial) sniper in the anti-fascist militia and a legal expert. He changed his avatar to an AR-15. Now watch this Sandy Hook Truther video he just posted!
- There is the uncle who has held like 80 different jobs, thought that removing lead from gasoline was Communism, and used to send me every paranoid conspiracy theory chain-email ever made until my mocking responses finally made him stop? Yep, finally got an (unpaid) job as Constitutional Scholar, varmit-destroyer, and protector of free society.
- There is the cousin-in-law who got a job as a cop and then was quietly let go like two weeks later for reasons no one will tell me, and who now plays shoot-em up video games all day. His new milita-member duty is mocking people who call a “magazine” a “clip” and informing them that if they can’t name all the parts of weapon correctly, they have no business having opinions about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in small town Rocky Mountains. Everyone had guns, and they weren’t all like the characters above. Some people have a rifle they only pull out of a safe in hunting season. The problem is the characters above are the ones that have the 10 gun arsenals.
Writing this, I realize that a lot my sick feeling has to do with the gun control issue that is now on the table. I think of all the promising measures that have been proposed (I think limiting magazine size is the Holy Grail) and then I think about our terrible House of Representatives, Western Democratic Senators who want their gilded “A” ratings from the NRA (that “responsible” lobbying group who has a repeat poacher and admitted pedophile on their Board), and the millions of loud deadbeats (like the ones I list above) who don’t have anything better to do than scream at congressional aides over the phone. The thought of all this going very badly, and what the results of that could be, makes me sick to my stomach.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.