This morning – probably like countless other parents around – I woke up feeling a sense of dread. Because we decided last night that we needed to tell our kids about Newtown. My kids are surrounded by a lot of pint-sized know-it-alls, and I’ll be damned if some other kid is going to feed my kids with all sorts of wild and horrific stories about the Newtown shooting. Because that’s what kids do. Kids have no governor. No, my kids are going to learn about this on my terms, on my time.

The fact that I have to do something like this…

24 hours after the fact, I’m just as dumb and numb about the Newtown incident as I was when first heard about it. Probably ’cause no one has any proper facts, still. What everyone seems to have, on other hand, is some rabid opinions – one way or another – about gun control. That, and mental illness being an underserved condition. But the loudest arguments have been about gun control.

Guns, guns, guns.

You know what’s awesome about guns? The fact that you squeeze a little pin on end of it, and something loud and destructive happens on the other end of the barrel. NOTHING else in the world operates that way. Not my bicycle, not my iPod, not my microwave (unless you count the time I didn’t realize that I’d left some foil my chicken leftovers), none of it. I’ll admit – I’m fascinated by guns. My kids have a shit ton of Nerf guns, and I squirrel away a BB gun to help deter herds of possum, raccoons, and skunks that overrun my backyard all year round. Yay, guns.

But do I need them? Not personally, I actually mean “we” as a larger societal collective. Before you roll your eyes about this being some anti-gun rhetoric, relax I’m not going to do that – truth is, I’m not properly-versed to take a side definitively. What I have an abundance of, however, are questions.

First thing I did was look up what the hell the Second Amendment actually says: “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,” according to the National Archive. I don’t know these things off the top of my head because I didn’t grow up in this country. “Militia”? WTF? I didn’t know that was part of the statement. How the hell did we get from militia use to personal ownership of guns for personal defense and recreation? Well, I did a bit more reading, trying to follow the breadcrumbs, and it seems that the evolutionary interpretation of the Second Amendment upheld by various courts over time takes more twists and turns than the entire series of Lost.

Be that as it may, let’s just take the reality today for what it is – the fact that, quite simply, just about anyone has the ability drive down to your local Walmart, fill out some paperwork, hand some currency to the cashier, then come home with a shiny new gun.

One of my ill-informed and completely non-rhetorical questions here is, just because we can, do we need to? Just because I can own a gun, do I NEED to own one? Typically the first response from gun advocates when challenged about gun ownership is “because it’s my inalienable right.” Because I can. That’s a pretty lousy reason to ever do anything. I can eat every single piece of bacon at a Vegas buffet because I can, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Every time I hear “because I can” I think of the scene in Prometheus in which Holloway and David exchange thoughts on creation and purpose:

There HAS to be a grander purpose for gun ownership. And of course there are plenty. Self protection, hunting, recreation, the list goes on, and on. When I was in Arizona for a TV shoot, so many members of our production crew ‘fessed that they packed heat and that they always have either a handgun or a shotgun in their cars. They are absolutely steadfast in their belief that Arizona’s so fucked up that if they didn’t have these guns to protect themselves – one cameraman puts all his gear on top of wooden pallets in the back of his SUV so that he can easily and discreetly slide his shotgun under the wooden pallet – they’d constantly be mugged or might even be killed. When I asked, not a single one of them have ever had to fire a single round in self-defense.

How about hunting and recreation? Shit, if we don’t go deer hunting, we’re going to get overrun by these massive antlered rodents. To some degree, I get that. But do we need use high-powered automatic rifles to get the job done? Oh, that Uzi’s not for deer, but for your giggles down at the firing range? I play video games, so I get the thrill of unloading several thousand rounds into various targets. But what’s the thrill worth to you? In order for you to have (presumably responsible) fun with your high-tech ballistic contraption, are you prepared to have these same guns just easily make their way into the hands of less responsible individuals who use them for horrific outcomes?

ferrari-fxx-04

Hey, maybe it’s not about taking away guns altogether. Is a compromise possible? I know this probably can’t apply to the self protection argument, but what if guns were treated like the Ferrari FXX? When you buy a Ferrari FXX (hah!), you’re not allowed to drive it home and keep it in your garage. Rather, it’s kept at the Ferrari factory, but you get to use it anytime you want. The car is carefully maintained, and its access is limited only to you. Could that work? Sporting weapons can only be kept and safeguarded at massively secure facilities in which they’re perfectly legal to use?

And maybe Chris Rock’s eerily prophetic bit about gun control from “Bigger & Blacker” has a good idea in it. Gun control? Ppffftttt! Fuck that. Bullet control. It’d be like the razor marketing strategy. Here’s a gun for $20. Bullets? Like Chris Rock said, $5,000 apiece. I’m being serious here – what if we made bullets a hundred times more expensive? If you’re buying ammo for sporting purposes, it’d make you a hell of a better shot, I guaranfuckingtee you. Detractors would argue that that would mean that only rich people can own guns. Fine, I’d be totally cool if guns were only owned by the likes of Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, or Mark Zuckerberg. Those assholes couldn’t hit you if you were standing 5 feet in front of them.

I guess what I’m trying to figure out here is if the ability to freely own and use a gun is so fucking vital to an individual, that events like Newtown, the Oregon mall, Gabby Giffords, and countless other acts of gun violence are acceptable collateral damage? Again, that’s not a rhetorical question – I genuinely want to know.  Does the preservation of an individual’s right far outweigh the collective welfare of the greater mass? Me me me me me me. If there have been enough examples showing a correlation between the easy procurement of personal artillery and the devastating outcomes like these fucking insane shootings, is that not enough for you to put aside your individual prerogative for the greater good? In my freshman year in college, I learned that a civil society only works when we are all willing to give up a little bit of our individual freedom for the greater collective, and entrust that right to some order that regulates that civility. As a society we don’t always get to do whatever the fuck we want.  Like stockpiling Liberia’s arsenal in your basement.

Seeking a different plan for gun control probably won’t be perfect either. But the current plan is far from perfect. In fact, look at where it’s gotten us. If it worked better, I wouldn’t feel the need to write all this. We can do better. Even if that means, for the greater good, maybe your access to the guns you love are far more restrictive. So maybe you can’t keep an arsenal at home. Maybe this means you won’t be able to get that shiny new Glock for your birthday. Big fucking deal, there are bigger catastrophes in the world. You know, like Newtown.

Because we owe this to Newtown.