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The Jehoshua Novels


James McMurtry, Texas gun owner and musician, on gun laws

James McMurtry
McMurtry, in one of the best essays I’ve read about gun laws, leans towards regulating the size of clips because this might give first responders a chance to kill a shooter while he’s re-loading. He does not particularly favor banning assault rifles, in part because of the impossibility of defining what they are. His essay is thoughtful and intelligent, as it ponders if changes to gun laws would help stop the carnage, considering that we appear to be very angry people indeed.

Some of my shooting buddies will howl at me for even considering the notion of gun restrictions and I don’t blame them. The vast majority of gun owners, even those with a penchant for high capacity semi-autos, even those with full auto permits, the vast majority never do anyone any harm. And I’ve always hated the “need” argument so often brought up by some who have never fired a gun. It’s true, no one needs an Uzi; but nor does anyone need a Porsche, and no one will ever deny a person the right to own a Porsche, even though Porsches are designed to run at speeds far exceeding most US speed limits, and if driven at such speeds on public roads may endanger innocent citizenry.

I can’t blame a shooter who has always acted responsibly for being annoyed at gun restrictions, even if said restrictions could actually be proven to be good for society as a whole. Often it seems that the one bad kid on the playground spoils the game for the rest of us and our hard ball gets taken away, but that’s life, and we have to start somewhere. We have to try something, or at least talk about trying something without immediately descending into factionalized shouting matches, each person shouting the slogan from his favorite bumper sticker to which he has chained his identity.

Timothy McVeigh killed more people with a truckload of fertilizer than any single American shooter has killed with a gun. The thread that runs through Tim McVeigh, Adam Lanza and Charles Whitman is not just mental instability, but rage, pure unfathomable rage. And we are an angry people these days. I don’t know why. I suspect that our world is changing faster than we are capable of changing. Some of us feel left out; some of us feel outnumbered; so we’re fearful and angry. Our societal anger needs to be acknowledged and addressed, perhaps diagnosed and treated.

Why are we so angry? That seems to be the core issue. As Wayne Kramer says, I’ve had all the lone gun men I can stand. Some loner nuts up, driven by pathological rage directed at Them and the result is another slaughter. This doesn’t happen nearly as much in other countries. Why is that?

James McMurtry’s classic “We Can’t Make Here Anymore”

Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one’s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget’s stretched so thin
And there’s more comin’ home from the Mideast war
We can’t make it here anymore

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