This has been a long time coming.

I think I’ve been working on this for a month and a half or so. 

Okay, before I go any further: Bear with me. Let’s take a deep breath. I don’t want to have an argument, I want to start a discussion, or even and more importantly add my thoughts on the subject as a means of trying to find some logic in the rhetoric around me.

Breathe in with me, (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

Hold it. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Breathe out with me. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

I don’t want to fight. I want to understand. Shall we take another breath? Let’s meet on the same level page. Let’s think about this, not jump into the roles predetermined for this topic. We are more than just single thoughts. We are more than either or. We are complex, and have different and difficult beliefs, and even when we want the same outcomes.

I want to start with the trope of the “good guy with a gun”, and how I see it developed in the culture around me. I then want to touch on, only touch on! some statistics and perspectives, from both the NRA and sources like the CDC and some research organizations, as well as the BBC. Finally, I just want to work on a simple thesis, which I will state now.

I want the U.S. to direct and fund the CDC in researching gun violence.

I don’t want to either take guns from people or make it easier to obtain them. I just want some research on the topic.

Again, O Reader, bear with me. Here we go. This is a long one.

1) The Trope and Some Context

The above clip is from the video game Overwatch. I’ve played this game, and while it isn’t my favorite, it’s a fun first person shooter style game.

The character speaking is McCree, a Western Cowboy styled hero, and if you look him up on gamepedia, his motto below his picture (smoking gun and cigar and all) is “Justice ain’t gonna dispense itself.” He is written as if he is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and his voice actor, Matthew Mercer, has a nice western accent that feels familar and comfortable. You know who this man is, he’s the good guy bounty hunter, or the white hat sheriff. He’s the guy who rides off into the sunset, but also the one who does what needs to be done, the one you know will get his hands dirty and then pat the dust off himself with quick, efficient strokes. He is, as he likes to call himself, “Your huckleberry.” He owns his power of the quickdraw.

I remember as a child the games of the westerns that have been common in the states since the heyday of the era of the Wild West. The cowboy is the romantic, “the quintessential American hero“, the worn-down, civilised outsider, who has a flair for the heroic and fits as well into the rugged landscape as any man, the man who speaks to people of all races but is never himself actually subordinate no matter how much society looks down on him, because he’s good with himself and his God, and has the whole open space and his freedom no matter what. A free spirit, but often the law himself as well.

And one of the most iconic scenes, of the hero and villain facing off, is epitomized from the instance of the final showdown, where the white hat (our good guy) and the black hat (our bad guy) both stand in opposition, fingers twitching above there guns, eyes squinted despite their hat brims in the sunshine, the wind blowing in the background, both still as stone until – bang! bang! someone goes for their gun and gets the shot off a little faster, and the other man falls to the ground.

They aren’t always on the right side of the law, either. Some of the famous Outlaws draw power from their celebrity, the ability to excite the imagination in the same way Robin Hood does. Escaping the law to where the law can’t reach, taunting the people who try to create the civilized and make it exciting again. When kids play Cowboys and Indians, it’s a question of the Wild Other and the Othered Wild. It’s how we present the rough edges of civilization mashing up against the wilderness that is untamed and fights back.

Image result for Gunslinger

And the gender isn’t always male, although it mostly presents that way (for example, the Lone Ranger, Buffalo Bill Cody, Eddie Dean, the iconic John Wayne; Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, Jesse James). Annie Oakley, Kitty Canutt, Pearl Hart, Belle Starr, and Calamity Jane all took part the great unknown, the Manifest Destiny of taming and turning wildness into some form of sense. Bonnie and Clyde, among others, even took on the West in couples, rather than on their own.

Some of them found a fine line between their feminity and the projection of their empowerment into a place where, typically, no sane woman would tread alone. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes of her travels, but her womanhood isn’t questioned, as she helps farm with her family, marries, raises a family, does all the right, womanly things. Annie Oakley, and her competitor Lillian Smith, were promoted as “lady” sharpshooters, and dressed in hat, gloves, corsets and skirts. Others made their way in pants, or disguised as men, and simply got things done that they wanted done. Laura Bullion, for example, took this option as well as wearing the more conventional attire as it suited her.

I think Yosemite Sam is yet another version of our good guy with a gun, though he treads a little closer to the line. His attire and attitude present him as a foil to Bugs Bunny, but with all of his bluster and wild behavior, cleverness and yet failure to outwit his creature nemesis, he seems to embody an inversion. Instead of taming the wilderness, the wild creature is able to defeat him in his schemes, and he has to try again and again. The Cowboy, traditionally wins out. Nonetheless, despite Sam’s character flaws, he does keep trying, improving his approach, working towards his goals. He’ll pull himself up by his own bootstraps (another common trope in the U.S.) or die trying. Or at the very least, end up flattened or exploded or whatever the episodes require of him.

But overall, the image we have is the sun-tanned man with skin like leather, a ten-gallon hat, with a Remington or a Colt, cowboy boots with spurs, maybe a poncho, smoking or chewing tobacco, with a horse of his own and the ability to find perfect sunsets to vanish into at the end of the day. Weatherbeaten and seductive. What’s not to like?

And even the ladies have their place. Either shocking in buckskins, or in elegant and fashionable dresses, with rifles and/or a careless air, a drive to succeed and the ability to follow through.

There are no weak people in the west; they wouldn’t survive. The delicate must survive back east, and the strong and just will prevail in the west, paving the way so those delicate souls can follow them out safely, to conquer this new world.

What’s not to like?

And we still believe this today. We have heroes in Stephen King’s Gunslinger Tower series (which hits the nail rather on the head, I think), Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, Fullmetal Alchemist, Marvel’s Deadpool, DC Comic’s Vigilante (again, hammer meet nail), Kingsmen, the Dresden Files, some of the CSI characters, Criminal Minds, many tabletop role-playing games allow characters to embody this archetype, Devil May Cry, Call of Duty, Destiny, Mass Effect, Disgaea, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Overwatch (as mentioned above), Leverage, and the list goes on and on. We see folk heroes, played by people like Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, John Wayne, Keanu Reeves, Angie Harmon, Renee Zellweger, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Again, they’re sexy, we trust them to protect us despite the odds, and they aren’t afraid to kill when danger presses. Usually, these days, it presses with guns and greater and greater martial threat.

They’re our heroes.

2) Arguments and Numbers

I’m going to try to be as unbiased as I can be in this section; I’m pulling from the places I trust, and also the big ones from the opposition to my usual view. I want to be as fair as I can. If you read this, O Reader, and think I’ve missed information or need to add more, please please let me know. I do not think we have enough information to successfully deal with all of the pieces of this issue, and I crave more, more and more that is valid and provable, and reasonable, and logical. Something that I can trust, and verify.

If I don’t manage to be unbiased, I am very sorry.


Giffords Law Center states that, in regards to gun laws,

Many types of gun laws are effective at reducing gun deaths and injuries, keeping guns away from criminals and other prohibited people, and fighting illegal gun trafficking. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tracks important studies proving that smart laws can and do work to prevent gun violence. Our publications offer in-depth analysis of significant trends in firearms laws and policies nationwide.

According to their research, citing the New England Journal Medicine, living in a home with guns

“increased an individual’s risk of death by homicide by between 40 and 170%”

-[Garen J. Wintemute, Guns, Fear, the Constitution, and the Public’s Health, 358 New England J. Med. 1421-1424 (Apr. 2008).]

And from the American Journal of Public Health,

“…even after adjusting for confounding factors,  individuals who were in possession of a gun were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession” 

-[Charles C. Branas, et alInvestigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault, 99 Am. J. Pub. Health 2034 (Nov. 2009)]

They state that the gun lobby has claimed a higher rate of defensive gun use than the Violence Policy Center with Bureau of Justice compiled statistics has found, that gun violence costs “at least $229 billion every year”, including emergency and medical services. They claim that it costs more than $700 per American yearly and that “smart gun laws” prevent loss of life or capital. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they say, over 30,000 lives are lost annually, and more are wounded. They have pages of statistics and numbers, and it’s worth looking through them to see what they have found, and to check their sources. But –

These sources are largely from 2010 and before.

So, moving later and later.

FactCheck.Org discusses “Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts”. They note these issues:

  • Laws allowing concealed carry do not necessarily lower the crime rate
  • Guns in school do not necessarily provide the option of preventing school shootings
  • More guns do not necessarily mean more violence, but there is no proof of a causal relationship as yet. There are other factors that lead to crime.
  • According to a study by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, seven of the ten states who had the strongest gun laws also had the lowest gun rates
  • The number of daily gun murders is not the same as the overall rate of murder, and as of 2010, the rate of murder was the lowest it has been since at least 1981. BUT- non-fatal gun injuries increased last year and is the highest since 2008
  • Federal data shows violent crimes committed by guns have declined for 3 straight years; additionally, of the 130 school shootings included since Columbine are about a quarter fewer than claimed
  • The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, the highest rate of homicides among advanced countries, but gun crime has been declining. 
  • President Obama suggested that gun violence is an epidemic, but that factors like access to mental health care, and cultural glorification of guns and violence are factors; additionally, he said that polls show support of banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, as well as increased background checks
  • The CDC has been careful around gun issues, since the 1990s because NRA lobbyists worked through Congress to cut funding.

A Campus Safety Magazine explains the CDC in 2016 found that almost 90% of public school have a written plan for a response, and 70% of those schools drill students. And a 2015 report they reference found by a 2004 Secret Service Report suggested that “the likelihood a student will be killed at school [is] less than one in a million”. They count also that the statistics suggest that of 123 school shootings,

  • 93.5% of shooters were male
  • 5 used 2 firearms each
  • 26.8% of shooters committed suicide
  • 69.1% of shooters perpetrated a homicide
  • 15.6% of the homicides include multiple fatalities

Tracked through 2015:

  • 84 incidents of total shootings occurred at k-12 schools (53% of the total)
  • 76 incidents took place at college or university.
  • More than half of these shooters intentionally injured or killed at least one other person with a gun.
  • 12 shootings were unintentional.
  • almost 1 in 6 shootings occurred after a confrontation or verbal argument
  • in 33 of the shootings, no one was injured on school grounds

The Secret Service Report then offered:

  • all of the attacks were committed by males
  • 98% took place after an experienced/perceived major loss
  • 78% had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts prior to the attack
  • 71% felt persecuted/ bullied/ threatened/ attacked/ injured prior to the incident
  • 95% attackers were current students
  • 59% occurred during the school day
  • 61% used handguns, 49% used rifles/shotguns
  • 3/4 only used one weapon, even if they carried multiple
  • 81% were carried out individually

“Red Flag Behavior” can include bringing a gun onto campus (which feels obvious), but there are also other factors which can give warning to a student in trouble.

The BBC posted an article in 2016 when President Obama vowed to increase background checks on buyers. Their statistics, in summary:

  • in 2015, there were 372 mass shootings, where mass shootings are defined as a single shooting incident killing or injuring four or more people,  including the assailant.
  • in 2015 there were 64 school shootings, including Sandy Hook and also including occasions where no one was injured  but a gun was fired
  • in 2015, 13,286 people were killed and 26,819 people were injured (excluding suicides) and these figures were expected to rise once the end of the year as counted
  • in 2012 (the most recent comparable year), they say, gun murders per capita in the US were 2.9 per 100,000; in UK, 0.1 per 100,000; 60% of murders in the US, 31% of murders in Canada, 8.2% in Australia, and 10% in the UK were by firearm.
  • the death toll from 1968-2011 exceeds the number of deaths from the War of Independence to Iraq
  • After Sandy Hook, the NRA claimed its membership reached around 5 million
  • On average, between 201 and 2011, according to the US Department of Justice and the Council of Foreign Affairs, 11,385 people died
  • Guns are effective and lethal. When an attacker has a knife instead of a gun, there are fewer fatalities. However, more research is needed before making a conclusion from the variety of statistics
  • There are more guns being owned, but it is unclear if there are more gun owners because they do not have to register to purchase one.
  • The CDC shows falling gun homicide rates, but only includes “injuries inflicted by another person with the intent to injure or kill”, but some accidental shootings are included
  • The number of school shootings is sometimes inflated to prove a political point; this article only could confirm 130 school shootings since Columbine, which is still a lot and really tragic

Aljazeera posted February 15th of this year an article, where they explained that “three of the deadliest mass shootings in US modern history have occurred in the last five months” prior, and then provide a timeline of a 20 year period’s worth of the deadliest shootings in the US.


According to the Gun Violence Archive, who states they are a “not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States”, in 2018 alone, the statistics are thus:

  • Total Incidents: 17,055
  • Deaths: 4,299
  • Injuries: 7,542
  • Children (0-11) Killed or Injured: 179
  • Teens (12-17) Killed or Injured: 753
  • Mass Shootings: 65
  • Officers involved where Officer was shot or killed: 79
  • Officer involved where Subject/Suspect shot or killed: 708
  • Home Invasions: 629
  • Defensive uses: 495
  • Unintentional Shootings: 501
  • Annual Suicides (22,000) are not included on the Daily Summary Ledger

Looking at the NRA website, they formed in 1871 with the primary goal of “promoting and encouraging rifle shooting on a scientific basis”. Since then, they have promoted shooting sports for youth and adult members both, and have been affiliated with programs like the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, and many others. They also have provided access to legislative facts and analysis to members, so that they can act politically. Law enforcement training has also been a facet of their interests, in order to provide law enforcement with proper certifications. They also focus on firearms education and are proud that they boast some of the most politically active members who contact their congressmen and vote. They also offer support for members who identify as disabled, and try to provide better access. They are also aware of women who have begun to show their enthusiasm. According to their Gallup poll reference, 23% of women own guns as of 2011, as compared to 13% in 2005; And according to their own statistics as of 2016, there were 5 million members, their annual revenue was $348 million, 100,000 members joined after Sandy Hook, there are an estimated 310 million guns owned by civilians which means 22.4% of adults owned a gun, and 31% of households had a gun on the premises. They were able to spend $3,605,000 lobbying,  and $5,982,316 was given to them.  They also provide these demographics:

  • households owning a firearm: 42%
  • total individuals owning a firearm: 30%
  • total males owning a firearm: 47%
  • total females owning a firearm: 13%
  • total whites owning a firearm: 33%
  • total percentage of non-whites: 18%
  • Total Republicans owning a firearm: 41%
  • Total percentage of Independents owning a fire arm: 27%
  • Total Democrats owning a firearm: 23%
  • Total owners for Protection Against Crime: 67%
  • Total owners for Target Shooting: 66%
  • Total owners for Hunting: 41%

American Gun Facts provides its sources at the bottom of the page:

  • Guns are used over 80x more often to protect a life than to take one
  • 200,000 times a year women use a gun to defend against sexual abuse
  • They provide a comparison of Highest Gun Ownersip Rates compared to the Highest Intentional Homicide rates around the world
  • According to the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, they state there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime
  • Nations with strict gun control laws have higher murder rates (and after this statistic is a link to take action)
  • They provide the FBI crime statistic that Murders, Rapes, Aggravated Assaults and Robberies decreased, and offer the percentages of how much.
  • They also state that all public mass shootings from 1950 have taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns
  • This site also claims that between police officers and armed individuals, there are more citizens who own firearms, that they have a lower error rate, can stop shooting rampages more quickly, and kill more criminals per year than the police.

And if you want more sources, I recommend these two sites for a starting point. Personally, I’m more inclined to believe the NRA’s statistics than those from the American Gun Facts site, and more inclined to trust the numbers from where I can dig through the sources they provide, but the short answer to this entire section is that there are too many sources and places for information to be gathered from and we need a more solid, comprehensive study that actually digs into all of the facets of this tricky issue.

3) My Personal Experience

I love folktales, folklore, cultural heroes. I love hearing about Annie Oakley, and the other heroes of the West who paved the way for settlers and the more gentle and ‘delicate’ city folk to make it out across the rugged mountains into a ‘civilized’ new home. There’s something about riding off into the sunset that appeals and the idea of being that one hero who can outdo the villain for the sake of the town by being just a little bit faster is a story I’ll read or watch over and over again. I’ll admit I like Zorro more than John Wayne, but both have their place.

My cousins and my grandparents who ranch and who deal with large animals like bears, elk, and javelinas, have appropriate weapons to keep themselves and their land safe. They keep them carefully and make sure that they know how to use them as tools. They know how to do what they need to do, and they never, ever point them at anything they don’t want dead. Some of them use rifles; one of my cousins has a small rifle that’s Barbie pink. She’s very good. My grandfather took time to teach me how to shoot a .22. I’m not very good. But I have a feel for what a weapon that can kill feels like against my shoulder, in my hands, what it feels like to hit or miss a target. I’m lucky – I’ve never needed to train with one to keep myself safe from wild animals. But I know that if I did need to, I would put hours and hours and hours in making sure I knew how to do it safely and intentionally.

I will say, between a hand gun and a rifle, I like the rifle better. It feels more precise. And I do support appropriate guns for appropriate solutions. If you are a rancher, for example, you need to keep your home safe from things like bears and javelinas and possible your land safe from elk or moose. I don’t really think bleach is going to work in the case of a javelina coming at you. Wild pigs will mess you up. But I don’t think you need a submachine gun to deal with them. Probably. If you do, you have other problems.

I’m also a gamer; I play first person shooters, I play games where you have to kill aliens or spiders or monsters or other players and some of them are more graphic than others (I’m looking at you, Dragon Age. That is a lot of blood.) But they’re fun, and some of the stories that are developed in series are gripping, touch on important issues of gender and decision making, or just question who you can and can’t trust in a world torn apart.

I like to play Destiny, which is a first-person shooter and when given the option in game, I prefer to use my fists (see below video- that’s my jam! Although not me playing. Kudos to Mr. Fruit. Also I suppose language warning?). I’m more accurate with a shoulder check, and it really really surprises people when I charge them. There’s a certain distance that it doesn’t matter because I can get to you. When I have to, playing me against the computer, I prefer hand cannons and rifles.

When I played Call of Duty, I liked a sniper rifle alright, but my favorite weapon was a shield. You can do remarkable damage to another player if you corner them with a shield. You can also draw people out, help the people you’re on the same team with by drawing attention and causing enough of a stir that you can’t be ignored and you can’t be dealt with. There’s a power to it.

That one on the left was my jam. Take ALL the attention! And find your corners. If you find a good corner, no one can touch you. It was great.

Artwork by Marvel illustrator Ryan Meinerding

Captain America has been one of my favorite heroes since I got into comic book characters and superheroes. His strength of character, compassion, willingness to protect others and stand against what’s wrong, and his understanding of what it takes to overcome a disability and make something better. Fearlessness and compassion. The combination makes him dangerous – and I suspect it’s why he has a shield as a weapon, and not a gun, a hammer, explosions or magic. His job and his identity are wrapped up in his need to defend. That’s important.

Credit to Guyu on Tumblr for this rendition.

I love Dick Grayson, Robin and Nightwing. He’s another one who doesn’t use guns, more inclined to disable than take apart a perpetrator. It’s a hypothetically gentle way to deal with people who break the law, who put other people in danger, who want to hurt and hurt until they get something out of it. He works out how to save the most people possible, and does it while quipping and making sure other people feel safe and okay while he saves them. He’s also fearless and compassionate. He learned from Batman, who I am reevaluating in my list of heroes; I didn’t use to like Batman, but Dick Grayson learned his behavior from one of the best, one of the original heroes with that perfect combination of need to protect and desire not to kill, even when it would be easier.

We’re going to pretend the library I work at is this one – The Trinity College Library, in Dublin Ireland. (Perhaps one day I WILL work at this one….. I’d at least like to visit.)

I work in a school library. I’ve been keeping an eye on the gun debate, on the schools that are attacked and the massacres. The stats and the stories and the protesting. I’m so proud of our students who protest. I support them wholeheartedly. They are changing the dynamic and the tone and the way we frame the dialogue around this fraught topic.

I keep an eye on them; make sure they’re safe, make sure that bullying doesn’t happen, make sure that the ones who need help are helped and that they know that they are safe. It’s important that they feel safe when they’re learning. When they’re seeing their friends, when they’re away from their homes and their families, and when they’re in a place that should be safe. A place that values merit and progress and access.

Kids should be safe. It’s my job to make it happen.

I am no man. And that doesn’t matter. I will protect my charges.

My personal thought on arming teachers? Don’t give me a gun. Give me training on using a fire extinguisher, or bleach, or cleaning chemicals, or even my school building itself as a weapon and a defense. I don’t want a gun. Don’t misunderstand please – I will get between my students and a threat, but adding my questionable capability with controlled death in a tense situation has never felt right to me. I can’t help anyone with that. And I think it frightens me more that a student would see me as an easy danger to their life than a person who wants to protect and help them.

We had a lockdown at work on account of someone reporting a gun case entering our school. It terrified students and teachers both, and even though it was resolved safely, and it was a good practice in case of emergencies, it was still an exhausting, frightening, and overwhelming experience. What broke my heart, in particular, was one girl, talking to her friends after the fact, who said, “It’s not that it’s going to happen to us, it’s that it’s going to happen to someone somewhere.”

In the morning, we were informed that we were on lockout and then lockdown. We collected our students, helped them to hide away and shelter in place. We waited together, in the dark; some teachers comforted crying students, so afraid they couldn’t help it. Some teachers prepared for the worst case scenario – one teacher at my school, who was locked into a small gym, nearly hit another teacher with a baseball bat when the door opened because he was ready to go, ready to protect his kids. Some students, when the teacher was not prepared or able to fulfill their duty, mutinied and protected themselves because they’d drilled for this. They knew what needed to happen and they made it happen. I am so very proud of them.

My kids were calm. I offered coffee in the dark, told them it was a precaution and that we would be alright. The cops I spoke to didn’t seem worried. I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m not worried. It’s okay. It’s okay. I’ll let you know when I hear anything else. Some kids were nonetheless more cautious than others; some tucked themselves in between the metal shelves, away from doors and light and as small as they could. Some kids, not worried and with their phones updating them, sat in a dark corner away from the door and drank coffee in silence. I stood there, between them and potential danger, and couldn’t be afraid. I couldn’t. If I had had a gun I would have been more afraid. It would have signaled to them that I was unsure of what was going to happen and actually thought that they were in imminent danger. As it was, I kept my eye on the fire extinguisher and the email feed that told me what status we were in.

What was I ready to do to protect them? Anything. Anything, and above all, I needed to protect them from being afraid. I needed them calm and relaxed in the face of an emergency, because when you’re calm and rational, when you aren’t afraid to the point of crying, you can think and react safely. I needed that.

Just in case.

And we were okay. And I tried to check in with other teachers and kids for the rest of the day, tried to make sure that everyone was doing okay, and when I went home I started feeling the exhaustion and the fears hit. I’ve been going through what I did and didn’t do, over and over again, because my job is to take care of my kids, and what if something I did or didn’t do put them at greater potential risk? What if I could have done better?

What if I did something wrong?

I’m still having those feelings. I’m still unsure of everything, down to the words I put on the page to try to escape the circular, fearful thoughts. I’m unsure of driving. Drivers are frightening me, with how stupid they’re being, with not signaling, with swerving and being aggressive and just generally using a skill level we would be ashamed of our high schoolers using. I’m unsure of how tired I am or might be. I don’t know if I’m hungry or tired or thirsty, or what I want, but I’ve gone through quite a lot of ice cream.

Find the recipe here

I’ve been through a lot of emergencies when I was little. I think I have learned quite a few things about how to manage one, but it’s entirely different when someone else’s kids are with me. If it’s just you, or just you and your family member, or you and a friend. The stakes are different. But with those kids, who I may or may not talk to again this school year, who may or may not need my help as a librarian, all I could hear in the back of my head was quotes from a childhood activity I learned in kindergarten.

Here it is, in all of its glory:

Going on a Bear Hunt: Children’s Song

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s some long, wavy grass!
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it!
(Make arm motions like you’re going through
long grass and make swishing sounds.) 

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s a mushroom patch.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it!
(Pretend to go through the patch
making popping sounds by clasping
fingers together and clapping hands.)

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s a wide river.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go through it,
Got to swim across it.
(Pretend to swim and
make splashing sounds.)

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! A deep, dark cave.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go through it,
Got to go in it.
(Pretend you’re in a cave)

Uh, oh! It’s dark in here.
I feel something,
It has lots of hair!
It has sharp teeth!
It’s a bear!

Hurry back through the river,
(Pretend to swim
and make splashing sounds)

Back through the mushroom patch,
(Make popping sounds)
Back through the long grass
(Make motions like you’re
going through grass
and make swishing sounds)

Run in the house and lock the door.
(Make a loud clap sound.)
Phew! That was close!

I’m not scared!

I haven’t thought about that in years and years. It was pretty surreal.

Apparently, repeating “I’m not scared” in the back of your head is a great way to encourage other people to also not be scared.

Or something.

Grizzly bear Betty playfully waves to on-lookers at the Bronx Zoo in 2005. J. Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society

4) Let’s Study This

In short, O Reader, since this has gotten quite long enough, I think we don’t have enough knowledge on this subject, and the causes and effects, to make an accurate decision one way or another. This is an incredibly complex issue, and there isn’t a simple answer, or we would have come up with it by now. I want more of us to be able to approach one another with a base knowledge to determine the grounds for the actual conversations, not arguments that we should be having.

I do think that our cultural outlook on the presence of firearms in our lives and who is allowed to have them and who is not is impacting rather dramatically our ability to approach this as scientifically as might be useful, or as compassionately as might be needed. The politicization of the arguments has further caused rifts and painful collisions of beliefs; I truly believe that we all want our families to be safe and happy and healthy, and that we want to live in a world where fear for our lives is not a common thing you drill for and instead we can continue to be a productive and united society.

Whether or not you agree with me, O Reader, I would request that if this sort of topic comes up, you try to take space, calm down, breathe deeply, then open your mind and question where the similarities are. What can we agree on? and how can we all best understand each other’s approach so that we can actually get somewhere with a contentious issue and make the world better?

Please let me know if you disagree in the comments, but I request you be as respectful with me as I will try to be with you. I would like to know what I don’t know that you do, or if you have other ideas or thoughts on how to approach this, I would like to hear it.