Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Grim Reaper, part two

Some people know the Grim Reaper better than others. I know him pretty well and I can tell you that the Grim Reaper is an inarguable guy. He's got one job. It's the same job for each of us. And he gets it done every single time. He has never failed--not once.

You will eventually report to him, whether it's in ten years or ten minutes. So will your kids, everyone you ever tangled with between the sheets, everyone you ever loved, everyone you ever hated and everyone else.

Grim is close. Sometimes you feel him, sometimes you don't. Doesn't matter. He's there, perched on your shoulder, waiting.

You'd think Grim is a one-note guy, but he's not. Grim's not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. He sighs with disappointment over the guy who drives 60 MPH in the right hand lane and loves a Hotballs weaving in and out of traffic at 85 MPH atop his Kawasaki Ninja.

The Grim Reaper sends everyone associated with Philip Morris and its minions a fruit basket for the holidays.

Thanks for making my job that much easier.

Guns? No one loves guns more than the Grim Reaper. Guns make suicides a snap and transform arguments and "accidents" into neat transactions, with all the bodies delivered straight to Grim's door.

Guns are the mass murderer's weapon of choice for a reason. Grim LOVES mass murders.

Code orange news alert: the more you're around guns, the more likely you are to get shot. Up the odds by flashing those guns around. Go on and bellow, I'm a proud gun owner! at the top of your lungs, post pictures on the Internet, show those guns off--and watch the Grim Reaper inflate with glee.

I'll bet if this guy didn't buy and sell guns his son would be alive.

I'll bet if this woman didn't have a gun she'd still have a husband.

I'll bet if this guy hadn't "taught" his three-year old how to shoot, the kid would have made it to his fourth birthday.

I'll bet any of those things could happen to all the smug gun owners who are reading this and thinking this would never happen to me. The Grim Reaper thinks so too.

Chris Kyle's and Nancy Lanza's unwavering belief in The Gun is partly what killed them. Go ahead and argue the point. The Grim Reaper couldn't care less.

Now then, gun owners, I invite you to 'fess up. What was your moment? Ever misplace a gun? Ever have one go off when you didn't expect it to? Ever breathe a sigh of relief when a stray bullet just missed your buddy?

The Grim Reaper was there, my friend, whispering damn under his breath at each lost opportunity.

*  *  *


jonas said...

Nope. Never had any of things happen.

How many near misses have ALL PEOPLE had doing ALL SORTS OF THINGS?

Cars? Chainsaws? Winter roofs? Probably should mention cars again. Choking? Drinking and...?

Since you're talking about accidents with guns, the CDC data on accidental deaths are interesting to note:


jonas said...

And let me follow that up...

When it comes to guns, the link people seem to want to make is to death. Ok, I get that. Mass shootings, suicides, accidents etc. All terrible. But, the reality (and facts) state that we, both adults AND kids, are killed by so many more things every day--heath related or accident (and non-accident). So, it's never clear to me what people are arguing against: death, or guns? Guns don't actually equal death. Death certainly equals death, and there are lots and lots and lots of ways we get there. And statistics say, its mostly bad health. You know, biology and such.

Yes, guns and violence are correlated. No question So, is it really an anti-violence thing? Ok...makes some sense. But, we've been violent long before we've had guns. Odds are, we will be too. Doesn't make it right or good, but it seems to be the case.

My point is this: if people are really arguing some anti-death stance (which seems...reasonable, if futile)...work to ban hotdogs! And Cheetos! And, you know, automobiles. And work a shitton harder to cure cancer. And heart disease. Because in the US, THAT is what kills us. But they're not gun-related. So, so are those deaths somehow...better? Sure, perhaps there wasn't violence and malevolence involved. But ok...now you're arguing against something else. Death is still death.

On the other hand, if for some less-statistically questionable (but even more unquantifiable) reason, you don't like guns--then ok, just say so. But equating guns with death is just not that defensible.

Sorry Erin, but the rhetoric you have here does little to solve the problem you're trying to highlight. By unsubtly suggesting that gun owners inherently "live with death on their shoulder" is silly. It's actually bordering on insulting.

To be fair, oo statistics say death and gun ownership share a special relationship? Yup. But what about car owners? Owing and driving a car immediately put you into a cohort of people who kill themselves and OTHERS all the f'in time. And meat eaters? Heart attack, leave a family without income/insurance? Drinkers? Smokers? Non-seatbelt wearers? What do you think those stats say? Same thing.

So, is it really guns, or is it anti-death? And if it's anti-death, we might be going about this all wrong.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Good post! I still believe its the person behind the gun that is the root of the problem... guns don't kill- lying alone on a table they don't kill. its the person who chooses to pick it up and use it w/out regard to the consequences. Blame should be put on the person, the gun is just the means, the one blamed when no one wants to deal w/the person holding the gun.

jonas said...

And just for a bit of fun, but full of reality checks...


Erin O'Brien said...

I'm not trying to prove any point other than this: you want to avoid getting shot, don't surround yourself with guns.

Yeah, cars will kill you. Whether you drive 90 MPH without a seatbelt or 35 MPH with one. Who's got the better chances?

Have to work now--more later. Until then, a great link:


Anonymous said...

Hey, jonas-

I don't know you and I haven't paid any particular attention to too many of your comments here. So try not to take this personally.

But 'is it anti-guns or is it anti-death'? Really?

You've expended an awful lot of words to generate one of the most lame, sorry, spurious, puerile and delusory arguments imaginable. Cars? Filet Mignon? Salty, fatty snack foods? Canadian Club? Skoal? Unlike most firearms none of the shit you're talking about has NO OTHER PURPOSE BUT TO KILL PEOPLE.

People "seem to want to make" a link between guns and death? GUNS MAKE A LINK BETWEEN GUNS AND DEATH.

Humanity can't do anything about death. As Erin pointed out, and to paraphrase Stephen King, "you can't hide from the dark man." But humanity can make it less convenient and ergonomic for a murderer to kill a large number of people in a small amount of time.

Well, gotta go. I'm out of Carcinoma Light 100s.Then my Grand Prix and I have a date with destiny and a random pedestrian, and first I want to grab a double cholesterol burger with extra lard. Can't facilitate the Reaper's work on an empty stomach.


jonas said...


So, those things seemingly not designed to kill (people) are not a problem? Just guns? That's somehow not single-mindedly blind to, you know...statistics?

Again, you miss the point: is the concern dead people? Or how they get dead?

"But humanity can make it less convenient and ergonomic for a murderer to kill a large number of people in a small amount of time."

Again, I give you the automobile. What is killing more people in America today? My car is pretty comfortable....

And no, a gun on the table doesn't kill anyone, sorry. The murderer will murder. That is the link. Do guns make it "easier"? Sure. But again, that skips the point: are we concerned about death or HOW we die? Because the link between cars and steak and death is MUCH GREATER.

Nowhere did I argue that guns are involved in killing. Nowhere did I suggest that death by gun is not a bad thing. I'm saying anti-gun people seem to be conflating certain things, and just ignoring others.

Violence against other is bad. Guns are involved in some of that violence. And, people die. Ok. Nothing to argue there. So, which part is really the problem? The violence? The guns? Or the death? I ask because, despite your clear disposition and Erin's point, they..are..not..the...same...thing.
If they were, I and millions of other people would have killed or been killed by now.

But, please..continue to not insult me my telling me how sorry and puerile and comments are.

twinklysparkles said...

Erin, I love your writing and your SMARTS!!!

Before the comment thread gets too crazy, I want to say that this post is eloquent, poetic, and right on.

So many in Congress are in the NRA's pocket that we don't have real figures released from the CDC when it comes to gun deaths and injuries, so I am wondering what the hell Jonas is talking about....fact check me baby!

XO, twinkly

jonas said...

Aren't involved, that is.

jonas said...

What I'm talking about is the deaths caused my things NOT related to guns. You know, the thousands and thousands of deaths--of kids especially. Fact check: CDC link is sitting right there.

VideoDude said...

Stupid is as stupid does! How many children have to die, before we can have a sensible talk instead of fear mongering bullshit!

Erin O'Brien said...

Number one "cause" of gun death is suicide--something like 20,000 a year in the United States.

For the record, nothing makes me roll my eyes more fervently than anyone with a cigarette in one hand and an arsenal in the basement (for when Alex and his Droogies come a-knockin').

I always tell them: You want to shoot something that's stealing all your money and trying to kill you? Put that pack of cigarettes on a stump and shoot it.

What dumbassery.

As for Alex and his droogies--that sort of malicious and random in-home attack is very very rare. And if it does happen, what are the chances our brave Gunman will be on the couch, into his third beer and nodding off?

Jonas, I hope like hell you never have a mishap. As for your CDC link, there is nothing revealing about it. More kids die in swimming pools than at the wrong end of a gun. Cars kill tons of people. Um, that's because kids are naturally drawn to pools. That's because we spend a lot of time in cars.

How many people use a car to commit suicide? Dunno. Probably just the ones who can't stand the thought of the gun. Easier to sit in a closed garage and go to sleep. What's the success rate on those suicides? Dunno, but at least you've got a fighting chance if you change your mind early enough in the process. How many people use a car to murder? Success rate?

This post has one point: The Grim Reaper Loves Our Efficient Compact Ubiquitous GUNS.

And lastly, I just ate the last of the ham spread (heel of the ham, ground up and mixed with mayo) and I didn't die, which is a flat out miracle in and of itself.

jonas said...

EO: I won't ever argue that there's alot of death surrounding our gun culture. It would be silliness to do so.

And so that's why I asked in my original post and ask again: is this all just an argument against killing/suicide/accidental death? Or, is it an aesthetic argument against guns (and what is the perceived culture around guns)? Because again, two different things. Conflating the two comes from an emotional response, and not a factual one. Which is why it becomes "logical" to argue about cars and cigarettes.

I hope to hell I never have an accident either. Of course, accidents are unlikely, given that my guns are (mostly) locked up, 6 states away and I rarely use them.

jonas said...

not alot of death...

I wish I could edit these posts sometimes...

Erin O'Brien said...

There is nothing to argue. This is an opinion piece, which I thought was pretty obvious as it features the personification of an otherwise fictional character--the Grim Reaper.

I think that being around a lot of guns increases your chances of being shot. As for statistics, I'm pretty sure no one was ever shot when zero guns were present.

The more guns you have, the more powerful they are, and the more lax you are in their handling can all increase the chances of those guns hurting or killing someone. That's my opinion, which I tried to state in a personal and compelling manner in this post.

Yes, I realize the same could be said of cars, but cars do not equal guns. You cannot drive your gun to the grocery store. You cannot drive your gun to your job. The only thing you can do with a gun is shoot it or look at it.

Erin O'Brien said...

To me, gun owners are a lot like Steve Irwin. Guy spends his whole life around dangerous animals. He feels as though he understands them. He feels comfortable around them. Then one day, a stingray kills him. Not a car or a gun or a heart attack, but the very danger he surrounded himself with.

There is nothing surprising in that eventuality to me.

jonas said...

And I don't disagree with any of that. What I took issue with is the "hey gun owners" opening that characterizes gun owners and assumes things about their experiences with guns. You know, "fess up."

And while it's certainly your prerogative to contribute to the discourse on gun culture any way you deem fit, there are more and less constructive ways to do so. And given that I tend to agree with most of what you have to say here, you know I'm not part of that particular group who likes to show up here to represent a broadly conservative POV. Nonetheless these are polarizing issues that aren't made better by mischaracterization.

Erin O'Brien said...

The phrase "hey gun owners" appears no where in this post, much less the opening.

jonas said...

Really, that's what you took from that? Nice nit-picking.

Sure sure, cars and guns are different. Yup, cars are deadlier. And we use them by choice. All the time, everywhere, almost everyone. I promise you drive your car more than I use my guns. And my car, for that matter. By a significant factor. Which of us is more likely to run into some sort of problem?

But, as a gun owner--you've characterized me as the bringer of death. Yeah, that seems pretty reasonable.

Erin O'Brien said...

You, my friend, are the one who is emotional about this.

jonas said...

No...no I'm not. This, like many well-trodden topics seems rather polarizing. Either you're in, or you're out. Kinda like Red State/Blue State. Huh, couldn't possibly be a connection there...

People want to make this a binary issue. Life is alot more grey. And discussions that result in binaries are...less interesting.

I'll leave this one for now to others' enjoyment.

Anonymous said...

Jonas, I won't comment further on the quality or merit of your sorry, puerile, spurious argument because you keep trying to make it. It speaks for itself. It is what it is. It's a hanging curveball.

If you are unable or unwilling to differentiate between a harm which is an accidental or incidental consequence of the form or function of a thing, as opposed to a harm which is intrinsic to the form and function of a thing, one might as well try to reason with a tree stump or a coffee table. None of those prospects is appealing, so I'll pass.

You keep right on digging, though. As Ronaldus Maximus was fond of saying, there's got to be a pony in there somewhere.


Anonymous said...

Hey Erin-Not a personal 'fess up', but a pretty frickin' scary one: I used to tend bar in a old-school bowling alley on 25th a little north of Metro. A CPD detective who had bowled there for years came straight from work every week and one night after bowling he couldn't find his piece. Fortunately for him and his job and pension, it turned up the next day, before he had to report it missing. He had set it on a ledge not far from the pinball and crane machines. Thanks to God it was discovered by one of the guys from the alleys and not by a kid trying to win a stuffed toy. And further thanks to God that he had never had an incident driving home ripped all those years with a loaded weapon in his car.

Do you recall an incident in the Gateway district maybe 2 years ago, in which a young kid with zero record of any problems with the law, a kid with a promising music career, had his brains blown out by an off-duty cop who had been drinking in the club the kid had just left? The cop claimed that shots had been fired from the car the kid was in and that he fired into the car in self defense. But no weapon was found, and neither the victim nor any of the other kids in the car had any gunshot residue on them. In fact, forensics showed the gun must have been in contact with the kid's head, and that the kid must have been standing next to the car, not in it.

The off-duty cop blew a .12 BAC.

The kid was my co-manager's nephew. His record was released postumously. Shame on me for not remembering the boy's first name. His last name was Smith.

Bill said...

I don't own a gun. Well I do have a pellet rifle with a scope. I haven't killed a squirrel in years. My granddaughter likes them. When I was a kid, a neighbor kid killed himself while cleaning his 22. Another friend of mine drowned. A high school friend and her dad were killed by lightening. A Navy buddy was killed on his motorcycle while stopped at a light in Hawaii. Another Navy buddy killed himself by running his car in a closed garage. His wife had been cheating on him. Of course, the older I get, more friends or just people I know, are dying of "natural" causes. Life is full of death. Not one thing that is being discussed to interfere with gun ownership, is going to stop even one death. Meanwhile, approximately 3,300 soon to be babies are killed each day. Mostly for convenience. Go figure.

Michael Lawless said...

Over forty years ago, I called a talk show (WERE - People Power) and asked the guest, a gun rights spokesman, if a man, ranting and foaming at the mouth outside a gun store, yelling how he wants to kill, should have the right to buy a gun. He would not allow that anyone should be kept from the gun they wanted to buy. Universal background checks for all gun purchases and a system to let that work quickly with some follow-up should be our goal.

Erin O'Brien said...

From a terrific essay by David Frum for The Daily Beast.

On present trends, by 2015 more Americans will die from firearms - homicide, suicide, and accident - than from automobile accidents.

I stand by everything I wrote in this post. The NRA and the gun industry are just like the filthy cigarette lobby was when it was trying to hide the deadliness of its product. Disgusting.

What's worse is that the NRA used to be sincere about the danger of guns. Now it spews nothing more than moronic fear mongering and palliatives like "good guy with a gun."

Folks, the people most likely to be shot are gun owners, those related to them, those who know them, and criminals.

And again, this Freakonomics podcast is a MUST for anyone interested in this topic.

LoDoKid said...

On present trends, by 2015 more Americans will die from firearms - homicide, suicide, and accident - than from automobile accidents.

Not that there's anything wrong withh that, right Jonas?

Anonymous said...

Erin, I'm really glad that you mentioned Mr Frum, because he is an exception that reinforces a general rule about right-wing voices in the mass media. Mr Frum is honest, intellectually curious, rigorously logical, and a fearless iconoclast when it comes to the myths and fallacies of what passes for contemporary right-wing "thought." I seek his opinions out as often as possible when I am trying to form my own opinions on issues or questions outside my personal experience or knowledge.

He's a good person, a mensch, and a solid American. Our country would be in a better situation if there were more members of the commentariat, of either right or left, who were more like him. The Republican party has been especially barren of individuals with his qualities.

Mike Robeson...

Erin O'Brien said...

Could Pistorius have killed that girl without a gun?

Sure, but it's pretty hard to imagine stabbing someone to death before realizing it's your girlfriend. And even harder to convince a jury that you had mistaken her for an intruder.

Sorry ... sniff sniff ... it was an oopsie ... sniff sniff ...

If they had a fight and she fled to the bathroom because she feared for her life, it would have been pretty hard for Pistorius to slit her throat through a locked door (or bludgeon her with a hammer). Maybe she could have calmed him down enough to get out of there. Maybe not.

Would Reeva Steenkamp be alive if Pistorius didn't have guns in the house? Who knows? Doesn't matter.

Grim Reaper: 1
Reeva: 0

Filthy goddamn guns.