Note: This entry involves my parents and becomes graphic. Friends close to my parents that do not actively promote gun ownership are encouraged to skip this entry.
I have unfollowed a bunch of friends on Facebook over the past few days.
Initially, I just wanted to cull my newsfeed of all the memes and shares and good-God-how-did-I-get-sucked-into-this-pointless-vortex-of-Internet-drivel? *Poof* vanished (but not banished) are those that rarely offer anything remotely newsworthy or original to my newsfeed.
Last night, however, I unfollowed some people who I really would rather not have. People that I do consider friends. People that, in physical presence, I enjoy being with and bring me joy. But, removed from physical presence, in the comfort of their own corner of the Internet, thoughts are shared that don’t take into account what reactions specific friends might have to those shared thoughts.
I have been personally impacted by firearms. I currently own firearms even though I didn’t pay for them, pass a background check, attend any firearm safety course, or any of the other supposed safeguards that are in place to prevent any ole person from getting his or her hands on a gun.
I came to own these guns through inheritance. These were my dad’s guns. One of which, still in the possession of the Panama City Beach police department, he used to kill my mother and himself.
He should never have been allowed to purchase a gun, much less acquire eight or nine of them. Why? He suffered from a severe case of clinical depression around twenty years ago. He drank more than he should have. He took anti-depressants. He went to dark places at certain times.
I’m not zealous about gun control. I’m sure there are plenty of people with similar circumstances that do not commit murder-suicide. But, from the time my father started purchasing guns, I regularly questioned him and voiced my displeasure about his owning them. His perfectly reasonable response for needing guns? “In case the booglies come.” Legitimate.
I’m not in charge of writing laws. Nor are any of the friends on my Facebook friends list able to make a difference for the whole of our society. We’re all just insignificant voices pretending we’re making a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate from our meager soapboxes.
In reality, we’re just exposing our “friends” to rants without concern for what feelings or memories they might invoke to those we normally would enjoy the company of.
I am a person that has opinions and generally leans left. I also expose myself to opinions I don’t inherently agree with in an effort to empathize with others. Everyone is battling their own demons, and no one’s demons are any less gruesome than another’s. I usually absorb counter viewpoints because I believe respect doesn’t need to be earned — it should be given from the get-go. But, respect can be lost.
The first time I culled my friends list was during the hellabaloo of Act 10. Again, not because of disagreement, but because “friends,” through generalized remarks, may not have been aware of the personal impact Act 10 directly had on my life and paycheck. And, if they were, and would say to my face, “You don’t deserve the compensation you have for the job that you do,” I wouldn’t want to be in their company anyway. Really, who would want to be around people who didn’t think you were worthy.
Five years later, Act 10 still impacts teachers. The fact that the State of Wisconsin is trying to shove “the tools” Act 10 provides down the throats of Racine Unified School District is perhaps the biggest reason I quit my job.
But, Act 10 is a different topic (slightly) than the purpose of this post.
I unfollowed a bunch of people because of their fanatical defense for unregulated gun control and their lack of desire to empathize with the other side. I unfollowed a bunch of people because of their paranoia and belief that when the Revolution comes or the Aliens attack, they’re going be the one-person-army saving humanity from the “Booglies.”
It’s not my intention to engage in the generalized analogies and one-size-fits-all points and counter points.
Yet, there is one sentiment, that every time I see it, makes me remember and reflect.
If it was my father’s intention to commit murder-suicide, he could have done so without needing a gun. Yep. True. So there I am imagining my father killing my mother without a gun. How would he do it?
Maybe he would have stabbed her to death with a knife then slit his own throat. Perhaps he would have smothered her with a pillow then hung himself. Maybe he would have bashed her head into a wall until her life left and then jumped from the fourth story balcony where he was staying.
My friends, I do not thank you for causing me to think about that. And, before you think that it’s my choice to think about that regardless of what you post, what the hell… Then… is your intention of posting those thoughts!? Of course you want me to think about it. You want me to side with your position. However, I have a personal experience to link your arguments to. Maybe you do to. I don’t know. But, I also do my best to avoid taunting you with your demons.
Given the e-mails and texts sent by both of my parents in the days leading up to that event, as well as the receipts showing where they went for dinner and shopping on the day it most likely occurred, there is no evidence that my father had intentions of being the harbinger of a murder-suicide.
What there is evidence for, from past experience and the number of empty booze bottles found where they were staying, is that he drank too much, went to some dark place, and it just made sense to him at the time.
Because he had a gun, it was easy to submit to the darkness. It could happen at a distance from across the room. It didn’t have to be close and intimate where he would have had to make an effort, look into my mother’s eyes, and continue that effort to completion like stabbing or smothering or brutalizing. He wouldn’t have had to suffer the consequences of his decision for longer than an instant because he had a gun. And, no, I do not think, given the continued, conscious determination to kill another person and oneself that my parents would be dead right now if he didn’t have a gun. Instead, it would have been another night of too-much-to-drink and a regretful hangover the next day. But, because of the closeness of that gun, the efficiency of that tool to do it’s sole purpose, and a relative momentary lapse of judgement…
I could be completely off-base. Of course it can be argued another way. But, believe me, I have more information and background in this specific case than anyone else. I have years of evidence, and you only have your generalized sound bites to fall back on.
You want your guns — have at them. You want your interpretation of the Second Amendment to be carved in stone — great. I don’t care. You want your right to bear arms — go for it. Get your guns and missiles and nukes and whatever else is required to survive the upcoming apocalypse. I don’t have any desire to infringe on your legal rights.
Nor am I going to preach about what society should or shouldn’t do when it comes to guns. I get my say in the voting booth.
I unfollowed a bunch of people yesterday, not because I disagree with their politics, but because whenever they post a defense through memes, slogans, and tired arguments about the need to have a gun, I think about the night and days sometime between the evening of May 7th, 2014 and the morning of May 9th, 2014 and imagine what happened, what might have happened, what could have happened when my father shot my mother five times and then put a gun to his head.