18 April 2007

rant: my hatred of guns, reinforced

i want somebody to give me one good reason as to why we should still be allowed to own guns in america.

seriously. why the heck should a college student be able to go out and buy two guns that give him the means to kill 33 people?!?!? i know, i know, some will argue that being able to own a gun is a fundamental american right--but just because however many hundreds of years ago (before we wiped out nearly the whole environment) we supposedly needed guns to "protect ourselves" from animals, does that mean that it's still a good idea for harboring weapons to remain a fundamental right? we're certainly not at risk from being eaten by bears anymore. it has also been proven that ownership of guns results in more intentional and accidental deaths than in protection from robbers or "bad guys," etc. so don't even try to tell me that people need guns for protection--i personally think that's absolute bullsh!t.

when i was in middle school, my friend's mom was shot in my front yard. in life before cell phones, she happened to have a c.b. radio underneath the passenger seat in her car. when the robber appeared at her car window, she reached for the radio, and the person trying to rob her thought she was reaching for a gun and shot her. my family and i ended up underneath the couch in the living room until the cops arrived. my friend's mom survived--luckily, she'd placed her arm up in a defensive position and the bullet lodged in her arm--but i don't think any of us felt safe again for a long time following. would owning or possessing a gun have helped us in this situation? not a chance.

about fifteen years after this incident, i worked in the burn unit at a large trauma center. the physician for whom i worked, an amazing burn and trauma surgeon, allowed me to shadow him one day when most people were on vacation (sometime between christmas and new year's day). i'd never gotten to observe surgery first-hand before that day, and what i saw, i'll never forget. sometime around 3pm on a bright, sunny afternoon, the trauma team was paged to the trauma bay for an incoming gsw (gun shot wound) victim. because of hipaa laws, i cannot go into the details here about why the guy had been shot in the middle of the day or by whom, in particular, he was shot. but what i observed that day in the o.r. only underscored my already strong anti-gun position. this guy had been shot by a member of a law enforcement agency in an effort to (supposedly) protect the public. what i learned during the surgery, however, was that he'd not been shot by just any kind of bullet. the bullet with which he was shot was of the sort that is created to cause the most damage to whatever it hits. and, believe me, it did more damage than you can imagine.

i guess i can understand why law enforcement members carry guns, even though in most other countries, they do not carry weapons. but in my opinion, there is something absolutely sick about the fact that we allow people (law enforcement or otherwise) to run around with guns that are made to be not only lethal, but totally destructive. i don't know enough about guns to know whether the student at vt was using unusually destructive guns or bullets, but the descriptions of the violence certainly make it sound as if the weapons he used were not "ordinary." why do we allow such weapons to be sold? if we really think that we still need to have the right to bear arms, why not make them single-bullet guns that have ordinary bullets? why do we allow the sale of such destructive weapons? do we really think the average citizen needs a multi-bullet containing super-gun to protect him- or herself?

here we are, invading other countries on the premise that they harbor weapons of mass destruction. has anyone bothered to look in our backyard?!?!? i wish somebody would invade us and save us from our own self-destruction....

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a little disclaimer...

i'm a medical student. just a student. so please, don't take anything i say too seriously. remember that i was an english literature major as an undergrad, so there is much fiction to be found in these pages. do you think i'm telling a story about you or your illness? more likely, you're tapping into my sense of "everyman"--that is, your story resonates with what i write here because it's not so uncommon after all. need help? please, please go see your physician. <--i'm not her. yet. ;-)