What we are not seeing are the cold, dead bodies of thousands of people shot dead every day in our own dear America, by virtue of which we have become the most violent nation on the face of the earth. What is not dead is the hope that someday, somewhere in America some of us who resist the gun culture in our nation will, of our own accord, create living environments free of guns.
There I sit, all five years of me: black cowboy hat atop my round, sandy head; sure enough Wild-West vest buckled around my proud chest; a genuine leather belt with two holsters strapped to my waist; and slung beneath on each side, a sleek, silver six-shooter.
Legend has it I was the fastest gun on the street.
What isn’t legend is this: Those two imitations of the real thing were the last guns ever to occupy a place in my home.
I am among those who think homes (and people) are more secure without guns.
Security is important, which is why the second amendment of the Constitution of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />United States addresses the importance of civilian militias (what we now call the National Guard).
In this time of international terror, we are indebted to all the men and women who take up arms to protect us from harm.
But what concerns me are all the other people who have taken up arms and fill homes, cars and barns with guns: hand guns, hunting guns, antique guns, target guns, street guns, even sniper guns.
A special on television last week took us to a camp that specializes in sniper training. What possible personal need or social value can defend such a practice?
All of this is evidence that the gun culture in America is on the move, asserting itself as a cultural norm and establishing itself as a political force.
One place where it has succeeded is video games. No space in our society is more violent than the “shoot ’em up” scenarios of these addictive devices.
The games mirror the movies: Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, of course, Sylvester Stallone with his unforgettable and untamable Rambo character.
Then there is Charlton Heston. Once he was Moses, whose story line tells of a young, ambitious Hebrew killing an Egyptian and fleeing to the wilderness. It was only as an old man, 40 years later, that God saw fit to use Moses. The man made history, not by wielding weapons in the war on evil, but by lifting up his hands to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Heston, on the other hand, gave up the Moses model.
Instead, there he was at a gun culture convention, lifting high above his head the long-barreled flintlock of Daniel Boone vintage. There he was giving voice to his gun culture convictions: “Over our cold, dead bodies!”
What he meant by this election year demagoguery is, of course, his disdain to the point of death for any governmental or grassroots efforts to curtail the spread of their culture of guns.
What the rest of us are seeing, though, are 11 cold, dead bodies scattered across the human landscape of our nation’s capital.
And, alas, what we are not seeing are the cold, dead bodies of thousands of people shot dead every day in our own dear America, by virtue of which we have become the most violent nation on the face of the earth.
What is not dead is the hope that someday, somewhere in America some of us who resist the gun culture in our nation will, of our own accord, create living environments free of guns.
What we need are homes, streets, schools, churches and businesses that have been declared gun-free zones.
What we can create are entire communities whose peace-loving people forswear whatever freedom we have to bear arms in order to shape a society where the only guns around are the shiny, silver six shooters that parents give their five-year-old boys for Christmas.
Dwight Moody is dean of the chapel at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />