The Gun Shop

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Instruments of death that fit snugly into the palm of your hand were gleaming dully in their showcases lovingly caressed by blue velvet. Oiled wooden handles jutted from solid blue back bodies. There was a faint odor of oil and metal lingering on the air conditioned atmosphere of the room. The soft sounds of creaking leather reverberated through the reverential quiet as the clerk tenderly, ever so gently, eased a delicately balanced, but heavily weighted .357 magnum out of its holster

“Listen to this action,” he whispered to me imploringly.

Firmly, but gently, he gripped the butt of the gun in his right hand. He placed the web of his thumb over the hammer of the awesome black revolver and slowly began to exert pressure on it. The man’s hands trembled slightly and he closed his eyes. Small beads of perspiration began popping over his upper lip. A little metal clicking noise emerged from the gun as the hammer went through its first cocking phase. A slight smile appeared on the lips of the clerk as he continued to pull back on the heavy hammer and another click emerged — the gun was half-cocked — the clerk began breathing heavily now and rapidly  his face grew flush. He slid his thumb to the edge of the hammer and applied the tip of it to the ridges cut deeply into the top edge. He pushed down hard and fully cocked the revolver. A tiny tear drop appeared in the corner of the clerk’s eye.

The gap between the ridged head of the steel hammer and the body of the gun was a chasm. It looked like the jaws of a primordial reptile. It was powerful, and it was frightening — the stored-up energy of that hammer begged to be released. He pulled the trigger.

Snap!

I jumped. The hair on the back of my neck prickled and a shiver ran down my left arm. The clerk placed the gun back into the showcase and hung the holster back on the rack. He lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply and blew out blue clouds of smoke across the room. He had a distant look in his eye. I turned on my boot heels and walked out of the store into the bright afternoon sun. I squinted my eyes and shuttered with relief to be back in normal time and space again. Just to-make sure I kicked out at the base of a red white and blue mail box standing at the edge of the sidewalk. It hurt sufficiently to be convincing. I began the three block walk back to my office still in a bit of a stupor.

Gun Violence in America

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A protester displays a placard at the Union Square in New York on April 14, 2015 during a demonstration against the recent shooting death of Walter Scott by a South Carolina police officer. Walter Scott, a 50-year-old father of four, was shot in North Charleston, South Carolina after fleeing from a routine traffic stop while a bystander caught the event on video. The shooting follows a series of similar incidents that have provoked outrage and protests across the United States, most notoriously the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

The killings of the five police officers in Dallas recently by lone sniper Micah Xavier Johnson was a vicious, calculated and despicable act. I condemn these killings in no uncertain terms. I also condemn the killings of black citizens Alton Sterling, age 37 of Baton Rouge and Philandro Castile, age 32 of St. Paul, Minnesota at the hands of police. Nothing justifies these killings but one cannot escape the nexus between these three events. There is no question that police overstep their bounds and brutalize and murder the citizens they are sworn to protect. With the killings in Dallas the situation is only going to get worse. I stand in solidarity with the Black Lives matter movement but I believe we are all at risk, white, black, brown, or whatever. We should not have to live in fear of those who are supposed to serve and protect. I am very concerned about the militarizing of police across this country. They have been given and allowed to purchase weapons and tools of war. Who are they going to use these weapons against? I am very concerned that the Dallas police department used a bomb carrying robot to neutralize Johnson.  This sets a very dangerous precedent.  I believe we are moving in the direction of a police state and a fascist nation. George Orwell said, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

I think that an armed citizenry is not necessarily the answer. The police are scared shitless out there on the streets because there are so many guns. Sterling and Castile both had guns but they were legal. What do you think is going to happen if you get stopped by a cop and you have a legal gun in your possession? This is dangerous set of circumstances to say the least. If you are driving while black and you have a taillight out it could be disastrous.

I am a gun owner and believe in the second amendment. But I believe common sense gun regulation should be in order. Backgrounds checks are necessary and should be beefed up to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. Loop holes should be closed. Also, no citizen needs a military type assault weapon of the kind that killed the five officers in Dallas or the 49 patrons at the Pulse Nightclub in Dallas. This is pure insanity.

We need to change policing modelling in the country to a more community based model. Hiring practices must change. Police departments must stop hiring homicidal maniacs. If you are a policeman and you are so scared that you shoot first and ask questions later then maybe you should consider a different line of work.

I have had my share of run ins with the police. I was very nearly arrested at the Dali Lama visit here in Louisville when I was harassed by a Louisville police officer for trying to bring in a bottle of water that was sold to me but the YUM center. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor so I let it go, but I felt threatened and intimidated. Also, the irony was not lost on me the type of event I was attending. This was not the first time I have been harassed by police. The first time being when I was eight years old walking alone along a street in Ridgecrest, California when a police car pulled up beside me and asked what I was doing there. I of course was immediately put on the defensive and felt threatened and intimidated. There have been many instances since then. And, I hasten to add, I am a law abiding citizen that has raised a family and has worked my entire life.

I will continue to speak out against police brutality and stand up for civil rights. There is no more pressing issue facing our country.

 

 

 

 

 

Frank and Elise

So when I got my concealed carry permit the other day I was struck by two things. One, I didn’t have to show any ID for the permit. Second, it dawned on me that now the Kentucky State Police had a record of me on file stating I was a gun owner. A record which included my address. How this is different than gun registration escapes me.

I was contemplating these facts when I came home to find my young friend Elise lounging on the couch in the living room. She was staying with me a few days until Ricardo got sprung from the joint. I knew she would be going back to him soon but I wanted to keep her with me as long as possible.

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“Oh, Hi Elise! Hey, I just got my concealed carry permit! I am really excited.”

“That’s great Frank! Now you can ride your horses and shoot your guns!”

“That’s right! Maybe I could ride the horses out where you put Ezra, your German Shepard. You could turn me out to pasture too!”

“Don’t say that Frank.”

“I was just joking. Not about Ezra, but about me. I can do that. Make jokes about myself.”

“I know. But it’s not true.”

“I know. Sometimes you have to laugh about these things in order not to cry.”

“You know Frank, some of us are just doing the best we can with what we have.”

I know Elise. I know. I still love you anyway. Now what’s for dinner?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapel Hill Murders

Chapel Hill Murders

Trying to parse whether the senseless killing of three young Muslims at an apartment complex in Chapel in Chapel Hill, NC was a hate crime or a dispute over parking is an exercise in futility and a distinction without a difference. These three young people are dead in either case. Only a person full of hate could perpetrate such a heinous and outrageous crime against humanity. This chinless monster known as Craig Stephen Hicks is an abysmal human being living a life of quiet desperation collecting guns and burning a slow hate filled fuse. He was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off and the parking dispute was the detonator that set him off. What can we learn from this hideous crime? One, tolerance of intolerance is evil. We should always condemn bigotry in all its forms, be it racial, gender or religious. Two, this man should never have been allowed to carry a firearm, much less amass a cache of guns and ammunition. He was simply too irresponsible and incompetent to do so. Besides, who nee to have so many weapons? We need to have a serious conversation about the proliferation of guns in this country. Enough is enough already! How many more senseless killings will it take? How many roads must a man walk down? How many times must a weapon discharge? How many times must we turn our heads and pretend not to see?