Ban the Damn Guns

Photograph Source: David Ohmer – CC BY 2.0

I haven’t fired a gun since I was nineteen years old. It was a .22 caliber pistol with a long barrel and a wooden grip. I held it with two hands at first and then one. My aim still sucked. When I was a boy of ten or so my brother and I took a couple of gun safety courses where we fired single-shot rifles that were also .22 caliber and a single-barreled shotgun that was loaded with buckshot cartridges. With both guns, we had to reload each time. I would shoot at paper targets at a range on the military base my father was stationed at. I was a very poor shot. My brother hit the bullseye almost every time. I fared better with a standard bow and arrow. In fact, when I was in Boy Scouts I was able to get the archery merit badge, but failed at the rifleman badge. My brother still owns guns. So do his sons. A couple are regular hunters. He only hunts with a crossbow.

I mention the above to show that I am not unfamiliar with guns. Indeed, back when I was nineteen and thought the revolution was coming, I would go into the woods in Howard County, MD. and shoot beer cans lined up on a log—the same thing I did when my father first introduced me to shooting. Never in my life did I even think about shooting people, which is why I realized that my role in that revolution that never came would most likely involve unarmed situations.

It’s obviously a damning statement that killing children in their schoolhouses, churchgoers in their churches and Black and Latino people in the places where they shop is something that happens with relative frequency in the United States. What’s even more damning, however, is that so many politicians essentially support this sociopathic behavior. Sure, they may make statements deploring the bloodshed and tragedy, but they sure as hell don’t do a damn thing about ending it. In their minds, there is nothing to be done about men (yes, it’s usually men) walking into a school wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying an arsenal more suitable to an invading soldier and murdering a couple dozen people. Then again, politicians claim there is also nothing to be done about hiring young men, arming them to the teeth and sending them off to kick in the doors of innocent families and killing everyone inside. It’s American democracy, goddammit. Take it in the face or we’ll kill you.

This is a country built on violence and determined to survive by violence or take the world down with it. It consistently rejects peace talks in favor of war, nonviolent approaches to crime in favor of killer cops, and open borders in favor of heavily militarized border enforcement. Then it cries when its children are killed. Then it sells more guns. It’s a twisted place to live and most of its residents have no clue how twisted.

I don’t usually write about guns or the easy acceptance of their violence, but between the forty billion dollars of weaponry going to the Ukrainian military to fight a war that should and could have been resolved with a little compromise and the mass murder of nineteen young children in their school by an eighteen-year-old lad who should never have been able to obtain not one but two assault weapons, I have to say something. End the sale, manufacture, and importation of these weapons. Curtail the sale of all ammunition and tell those who oppose this—the accessories to every crime committed by those using these weapons—their argument has been killed in the last two weeks. As dead as those children murdered in Uvalde, Texas. As dead as the shoppers murdered in the Top’s Supermarket in Buffalo, NY.

People may kill people, but people with assault weapons kill a lot of people. Ending their manufacture, importation and sale would lower the body count in a very measurable way. Then we can talk about the rest of the crap that’s screwed up.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: