Today, every 16 minutes of it, someone will die by the injection of hot lead fired from a weapon deep into the cavities of their body. Waves of pain and shock coursing through them over milliseconds as they die almost instantly, or worse, the slower death of their lungs collapsing as they slowly suffocate. Their family will be devastated, their friends shocked, and someone, somewhere will say “This is exactly why we need more gun control”.
This week, a drug dealer-turned writer named Dwight Watkins went a step further. In a scathed jumbled rant against guns and the NRA, where he suggested that like owning a Taser, you should first be shot before carrying a gun, and stated that those who praise guns would have also condoned slavery (Quite a flight of fancy). Ironically, among the past works of this illustrious purveyor of racially charged writings is an article titled “Gunplay is all I know; as a young black male in America, I’d rather be caught with a gun than without one”.
Although I can understand the tone in which it is written, and the struggles that he has been through as an African American living in the urban areas of Baltimore, not far from where I live in Arlington, the picture he’s trying to paint is unclear. The most scathing sentence comes from Watkins himself when he says “I’m not a gangster and could not care less about weapon shows or trips to a shooting range, but I have two guns. I don’t want them, but I need them to protect my family.”
Weird. Could it be that you do feel as if you need a gun? Do they make you feel safe, because if so “then you need to be shot.”
The bigger issue here goes beyond a gun. It goes beyond the hood, racist cops, and wanna-be gang bangers posting selfies with their handguns. Watkins himself must realize this, talking about the illegal purchase of firearms while underage, in a gun free zone. After all he makes no secret of his earlier life pushing drugs in the streets, staying strapped around the clock, and losing friends to gang violence.
I understand the passion, but his logic seems to have been impaired by it. I do not have the same background as his, I grew up in a rural area, but enlisted in the Army at 17, and work in D.C. I never sold drugs, but I worked in the ER on people who had used them. When I carried a gun it was in a country halfway around the world and everyone wanted me and my crew dead, not because of what we had done,but because of who we were as US soldiers. My perspective is different. Not better, but just different.
I see that around the world people will always want to hurt and kill other people. It’s as old as the story of Cain and Abel from the Bible, and as fresh as yesterday in Israel stabbing attack. Yes, I do carry a gun, because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to me, a loved one, a friend, or even a stranger around me and I had the training to help, but not the instrument.
Our reaction must be proactive in the areas of enforcement, mental health screening, and training. We must restore the idea that individuals are accountable for their own actions, and not the instruments they use.
By the way, as horrifying as my first statement sounded, only one third of the 90 gun related deaths a day are homicides (murders). Three times that many people die a day from obesity, by in large from the inner cities and urban areas, and no one bats an eye. Where’s your article on that, D Watkins?