Monday, November 12, 2018

I Hate Guns

I do, I hate them. I hate them the way I hate cancer, and car accidents. Except, I actually hate them more than that. We have them, and they aren't going anywhere. And since that is the truth I don't have any problem with the 2nd amendment. I disagree with the way it's used and abused these days, but, then, we can all disagree about a lot of things. I understand there's probably a reasonable place for them in the present day, and that their presence in the past is part of what shaped our country's founding, independence, and power. I'm not sure how proud I am of that particular history, but it's the history I have and bearing arms was an important part of it.

All that said, I still hate guns. I find them to be one of the most offensive items in our current society.

I spend years working with patients to improve their health just enough to lengthen their life by a few years. Aside from the rare though gratifying life saving moments I have, the vast majority of medical work is long and slow. It's like long term counselling for your body. No one changes overnight, and the reality of our mortality is ever present. Some medical advances have more impact than others, but even when you look at the big picture - modern medicine has lengthened the average lifespan by about 15-20 years if you go back a couple of hundred years. And it has took trillions of dollars to do so.

A gunshot can steal away a life in seconds. We spend trillions to be able to lengthen lives by a fragment of the amount of life that can be stolen by a bullet. As someone who is charged to do no harm, to improve the number and quality of our days on earth, and who does so at great cost to patients and taxpayers (those are actually the same people, remember?) it is offensive to then also allow weapons to exist so rampantly in the community that can undo countless dollars and hours of effort towards improved life in just seconds. How can we pour words and time and money into healthcare (or education, housing, public safety), while in the same breath sanction those tools which so carelessly and carefully take away life. It is a contradiction at it's core. We cannot serve two masters- either we love life, or we love death. We'll never be perfect at loving life and choosing life, but we love and choose death too much.

Have you ever stuck your hand into a bullet wound? I have. I'll never forget how warm my finger felt, my right pointer finger, when it pushed it's way into the bullet wound hole of young man in the ER in DC. He was shot in the neck. He was probably already dead, but as a med student I foolishly thought maybe if I put my finger in to stop the bleeding it would help. But I was useless. And for once, I wasn't useless just because I was a med student, we were all useless in the ER that night. That was the first bullet wound I touched, but by far was it the last.

The holes bullets make in flesh are remarkably clean because the bullets go through so fast. It is almost hard at first to believe such a small hole can do so much damage except that there is so much blood. But isn't that just the problem? This small machine can do so much harm with so little thought and with so much thought. It's an equal opportunity killer when it comes to forethought, though not equal with who it kills.

I've never seen a toddler killed by accidentally firing a bayonet.

I'd just as well get rid of guns all together. It won't happen, but I think it's the right thing for any society aiming to love life, liberty and happiness. Find a different way to command force and fear and public order. Find a different hobby or sport. It isn't a luxury worth having. It's not that some of us should have them and not others. None of us should have them. Radical, I know. But wrong? They came about as a necessary evil and we got addicted to their ability to command armies and nations, but also friends turned enemies, spouses turned traitors, black bodies, and kids. But, really, is evil necessary? I don't believe so; it isn't what was meant to be, what is meant to be. Evil is laced with good explanations and intentions about culture and context and rights and history. Evil is convenient. But the argument that better or safer life can be achieved through instruments of death was valid once in history, in Jesus, and we are arrogant to think that it is a power we are sanctioned or able to wield.

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