Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Church of the Blessed Bullet


"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them, and they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." – Barack Obama, Uppity Socialist Kenyan Usurper Not-The-Real-President (black man)

Ya, I know… another essay about guns, but this time I think perhaps I’ve learned something that so far has eluded me.

I think I finally get it.

The gun-fondling thing, that is.

Through all the media baloney, political posturing, pearl-clutching and hand-wringing. Through all the school and shopping mall and theater and home and gun show and vacation spot shootings and the bloody aftermath of each.  I finally get it.

I finally understand the bug-eyed screeching, the waving around of loaded weapons, the invocation of what it means to be a ‘true patriot’, the threats of secession and insurrection and watering the tree of liberty with Type O positive. The notion that ‘an armed society is a polite society’. The idea that if every law-abiding citizen was armed, no one would DARE try to rob or hurt or otherwise be mean to anyone else for fear of being blasted by other law-abiding citizens packing heat.

I get it now.

It’s not really about the Second Amendment to the Constitution, because anyone who actually reads those few words… ALL of them, not just the part they like… and then allows their grey matter to cogitate for a few scant moments will realize the pro-gun arguments now being flung at every wall are simply wrong, outdated remnants of an antiquated mindset from a bygone era.

It’s not about the right to bear arms, because when the Second Amendment was written, the modern firearm of choice was a flintlock musket, not a matte black dildo-with-bullets. Really, you want to own a whole bunch of guns as you imagine the Founding Fathers intended?  Fine… as long as they’re muskets.

It’s not about personal freedom, because if there’s one thing that will NEVER EVER happen, it’s that someone from the Black Helicopter Brigade will come knocking at your patriotic door to take away your guns and register you with the ‘Hates Government’ FecesBook page.

It’s not even about the inherent and implied violence that surround guns like a stinky brown fart, something that gun fans use as their unspoken-yet-always-evident threat to anyone who even hints at the notion that a household with guns is 40 times more likely to have someone living in the home shot with that very same gun.

Nope, it ain’t any of those things that propel the rabid supporters of unfettered and unregulated gun ownership.

It’s a RELIGION, this gun ownership/fetish/fondling thing. I’m serious here, so think about it… HARD.

Doesn’t matter if you are a Obama-hating libertarian or a solid church-going registered voter/citizen.  Doesn’t matter if you hoard guns to fend off The Takers who will inevitably come around when the Zombie Apocalypse finally starts, or if you just enjoy hunting or target shooting or the mechanical nature of firearms. How else can one explain the love and devotion and passion and sheer blissful ecstasy that is demonstrated by The Armed Ones when they are fondling their beloveds?

Religion is the reason, and I’m not taking about a sectarian religious belief writ in any book or scroll or sheaf, although that kind of religious belief more often than not allows followers to rationalize their use of guns to mow down infidels who do not agree with them, amirite? Nope, the religion I speak of surrounds the very notion that guns = power, guns = authority, guns = don’t tread on me, man, or you’ll be eating lead.  Governments believe it, so it’s no wonder there’s always a shooting war happening somewhere, with opposing sides blasting away with fire in their eyes and their deity-of-choice right there with them, weapon in hand, spewing out their power one bullet at a time, in rapid-fire succession.

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of…” well, you know the rest.  The Church of the Blessed Bullet. Holy, Holy, Hole-y. ALL MUST KNEEL AT THE ALTAR OF THE BLAZING MUZZLE! “Body of Glock… (amen)… Body of Glock… (amen)… Body of Glock… (amen).” 

Let’s take a look at this long-standing religious belief that centers around, and holds as most exalted, the Almighty Gun, PRAISE THE TRIGGER.

Think about it: even if you adhere to the basic tenets of the Bible or Qur’an or Talmud, you cannot possibly take every word, every phrase, every concept written in those ancient tomes as literal, actual facts and specific unerring guidelines to live by in our society unless you are a fundamentalist religious zealot, in which case please stop reading this now and forget you ever heard of me. 

EVERY religion now being practiced on this planet cherry-picks their teachings and follows those precepts they like, glosses over those they don’t and simply ignore the ones that harken to a much more brutal and hostile world than the one we live in today. Enlightened believers understand those religious tomes are allegorical, not literal… they are morality plays written for uneducated masses of the past to be lulled into acquiescence and servitude at the hands of the learned religious scholars who sought to control them. Don’t believe me?  Look it up.

It’s the same for The Church of the Blessed Bullet. Here, read this:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

As anyone who doesn’t get all their information from Fox News knows, the gun-fondlers currently pointing their death sticks in our direction never EVER refer to anything in the Second Amendment before the second comma.  They prefer to quote the abridged version that doesn’t speak to ‘a well-regulated militia’.  In fact, we are now learning the version above was actually a re-write of the original text so as to allow state-sponsored militias, also known as ‘slave patrols’ in the South, to continue their activities to track down escaped slaves and keep them on their respective plantations, without interference from the federal gummint. Don’t believe me?  Look it up.

Like the followers of sectarian religions do with their ancient teachings, the gun-fondlers cherry-pick the Second Amendment to mean only what they want it to mean and disregard the part they dinna like, PRESTO CHANGE-O! It’s what religions do and have always done to try and stay relevant. So it is with The Armed Ones, who love invoking the Founding Father’s (abridged) words about gun ownership for the masses without the tiresome chore of actually understanding the context of their words. That’s what blind faith does to people.

Another hallmark of hardcore religious belief is the ability to reject any facts or information that does not confirm those firmly held beliefs, no matter how solid or educated or confirmable those facts might be. “The Earth is 6,000 years old… God created man and Earth and the universe… evolution is bunk… ancient men rode dinosaurs… no other life exists beyond our planet… man has no impact on climate change… the Constitution is based on the Bible… a fertilized egg is a human being… the United States is a Christian Nation...”  You get the drift, right?

For The Church of the Blessed Bullet, the firmly-held beliefs around gun ownership are rooted in the same type of ideas devoid of facts, context or even historical precedent.  “The Founding Fathers would approve of unfettered and uncontrolled gun ownership… the Second Amendment helps the citizenry to prevent tyranny… the government should have no say about what kind of guns a citizen may own… more guns in more hands means a safer world for everyone… anyone who lawfully owns a gun is automatically a ‘good guy’ that we should not fear… guns don’t kill people, people kill people…” Blind faith as reality, armed and dangerous, with a hair trigger.

It doesn’t stop there. Whether they will admit it openly or only within their cloistered circle, followers of sectarian religions typically make the assertion they are somehow better than either non-believers or those who choose another non-approved path to redemption (whatever the hell that means). Their belief makes them special, a cut above, chosen, imbued with the glory and promise of life everlasting with their savior when they finally take the dirt nap, as long as they believe. The Armed Ones are blatant about how special they are, whipping out their death sticks and holding them close to their hearts, comforted with the knowledge that anyone who deigns to question the bullet’s superiority can be silenced from a distance, in rapid-fire succession. The Armed Ones believe they are the only true patriots, and they will point their sacred scimitars of freedom at your face in an instant if you beg to differ… PRAISE THE TRIGGER!

About the comment made by NRA spokesmodel Wayne LaPierre that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun… is a good guy with a gun.” Two words:  CHRISTOPHER DORNER. Trained by the military to be an assassin, hired by the L.A.P.D. and given access to as many assault weapons as he wanted, he was the quintessential ‘good guy’ until he snapped and became the vilified ‘bad guy’.  He was a law-abiding and well-armed citizen soldier until his addled brain convinced him that The Church of the Blessed Bullet would give him the justification he sought to right some wrongs and… well, after a week of terror and four dead bodies and many wounded and thousands of spent rounds and a couple of lobbed tear gas canisters... BBQ! Yep, he was good, then he was bad, then he was crispy.

Pity Chris The Assassin. His world was steeped in gun love, in gun worship.  Watch the videos of him in action and see a man totally and completely enamored with the strength, the power, the authority bestowed upon him merely because he chose to kneel at the Altar of the Blazing Muzzle. It was his deity, and he lived to use that power for what most would consider ‘good things’… until they weren’t good any more. He used his blind faith in guns to mete out his own warped sense of justice, making himself the arbiter of death and the one we all fear is probably standing right next to us in line for coffee, loaded weapon hidden from view, angst gnawing at his consciousness, a worn-out spring wound far too tight.

Chris Dorner was a good guy until he was a bad guy.  Sorry Pastor Wayne, your concept sucks donkey balls.

Religion has a unique tendency to alter the worldview of ardent followers, and it doesn’t really matter what philosophy makes up those belief systems. Arab against Jew, Christian against Muslim, Tutsi against Hutu… it all runs together, it all degenerates into the same anger and bloodshed, the same zealotry and insanity. The Armed Ones are the first to say that they hold all that cards, hold the power, hold the ability to mete out patriotic justice and death one bullet at a time, in rapid-fire succession, and they wave their loaded cards at everyone else.  They smile broadly, hearts and minds devoted to the trigger and the bullet, convinced their guns mean they will be in control, convinced their guns mean they are always gonna be right, convinced the rest of us will just blithely cede power to them because BULLETS.  Holy, Holy, Hole-y.

I don’t have any answers here, and I don’t pretend to know what will come of our current national dialog about guns and death and good guys and bad guys and armed janitors and 100-round drums and school shooting drills and blood-soaked liberty trees.  I don’t understand the gun fondlers, or why they worship the idea of holding the power of instant death in their hands. I don’t understand the wide-eyed fear of ‘the other’ that spurs so many people to buy as many guns as they can, as if the Zombie Apocalypse was on the news just last night, right after the Weather Goddess predicted acid rain for all eternity.
As a non-believing anti-theist, my only guess is that FEAR is the driving factor in the religious fervor surrounding the death sticks, and the Uppity Black Man seems to have hit the nail on the head in his remarks during the 2008 Presidential campaign.  Fear is what gives religion its power... fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of not mattering, fear of weakness, fear of loneliness, fear of 'the other', fear of being inconsequential.
The Church of the Blessed Bullet is based upon a foundation of fear that, at least from my perspective, has no place in a modern, civil society.
I do not fear death or spiritual emptiness or being involved in a multi-car pile-up on the 405 freeway. I do worry that The Artist will someday realize she could find someone much better than me, but as long as I show her love and tenderness and support and keep making tacos and cleaning bathrooms, she will accept me for my shortcomings. I do not fear pain or old age or infirmity or being extraneous in the grand universal scheme.  I worry that an adherent to The Church of the Blessed Bullet will make the decision to take me out without my prior acknowledgement or approval, Holy Holy Hole-y.

Guns = death. Guns = sorrow. Guns = hatred. Guns = violence. Guns = humanity de-evolved.
I do not live in fear.  I am made from the stuff of stars, and when my spring can no longer be wound, I will freely give my life's force back to Mother Earth to use as she will.  There's nothing to fear about that, and I don't need guns to make me feel safe or better about myself, about my world or my place in it.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Lead image, gracias de theird.org; Tom Lehrer 'National Brotherhood Week' and Jimi Hendrix 'Hey Joe' videos, muchismas gracias de You Tube; Fuck the NRA; muchismas gracias to Alan Eggleston for introducing me, a weirdo high-school Freshman, to Tom Lehrer in 1970.