My Two Cents
August 4, 2016, 12:00 AM

Back in Indianapolis Don’s Guns was the biggest gun shop in town. Don’s motto: “I don’t want to make money, folks. I just love to sell guns.”

And our country? We just want to buy them.

Last month while I was waiting for my glasses to be fixed at Costco, I stumbled upon the terrific book, “Epitaph: A Novel of the OK Corral” by Mary Doria Russell. The book tells the very involved story leading up to one of most iconic incidents of gun violence in our history- one in which both good guys with guns and bad guys with guns were killed.

The main story is about the OK Corral, but a side story that is hard not to hear, especially this summer, is how deeply our country’s love of guns is woven into our culture. This stuff was real, and it didn’t happen all that long ago. Everyone was armed. And the way to be safe was either to carry a gun or live with someone who did. That’s who we were. And, to a large extent, that’s still who we are.

But Russell’s story makes it clear that so many people got killed back in the good old days because of what went along with all those guns. The most lethal accomplice was alcohol, the 19th century drug of choice. Then came things like revenge, poverty, jealousy, racism, and good old fashioned American machismo. Then, as now, guns were everywhere. Then, as now, these were the things that led people’s fingers to curl around the trigger.

I wish our country wasn’t so enamored with firearms. Now that we’re not fighting the British from our front porches, I wish our Constitution went from the first directly to the third amendment. The presence of guns in anyone’s hands other than hunters, law enforcement officers, and soldiers doesn’t make me feel one bit safer.

But until that day comes, let’s not JUST talk about gun control after the next shooting. Let’s also focus our attention on the people pulling the trigger. They haven’t really changed that much since 1881. They are the young, the angry, the poor, the despondent, the ones desperately suffering from addiction, the ones who stand in harm’s way on our behalf. They may be us, actually. But, if not, they are certainly within our reach.



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