I had lunch with my cousin in New York this week, and it turns out that friends of his know the father at the center of the most awful thing I’ve ever heard.
You might have seen the story: Julie Powers Schenecker shot her teenage son in the head “because he was talking back” (according to MSNBC) and then drove home and did the same to his older sister while she worked at her computer. All this while the father was deployed overseas with the Army.
It’s such an awful thing that even I, an amateur curator of dark thoughts and suspicions, could only bear reading about it in little sips.
Not that being twice or thrice-removed from the father in question gives me any insight into this. But if I may, I’d like to make a modest proposal about guns.
When I was reporting in Tucson after the Loughner shooting, there was much talk from certain sectors about how a better-armed public could have prevented the killings. The President of the Arizona Senate, Russell Pearce–perhaps the most powerful politician in the state–said in his first interview after the shooting that “guns save lives.” We need to be armed in a place like Safeway, the argument goes, to protect ourselves from fellow Tucsonans. Or, following the logic of a law of a 2010 bill passed in the Arizona legislature allowing concealed weapons on college campuses, we need professors to be able to shoot down a coed in a pinch. And so on.
But we also know that the largest percentage of violent crimes against children are perpetrated not by neighbors or other students, but by family members. In Florida, as the crime rate has fallen, domestic violence murders have risen. They comprised almost 20% of the murders in 2010, a stat that probably makes your relatives–mom or dad or son or daughter–a more likely murderer than any other category (teacher, robber, drug dealer, etc.)
So this is my modest proposal: let’s rename some of these concealed-carry laws to honor their most likely use. Call them something like colloquial like the Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight With Dad Act. Or perhaps something in legislative-speak, like the 2011 Intrafamilial Protection Act. Let people know that the Second Amendment means never having to go down without a fight in your own home.
The beauty, of course, is that you can just rename. You don’t have to actually pass new laws. In most places in America, you are already free to own a weapon in your home, even if you live with kids, so that on one bright blue morning you can, like Julie Powers Schenecker, load it, take it in the car with you, and in a moment of madness, do incredible violence to everything you’ve ever loved.
Now that’s freedom.