Thursday, June 15, 2017

This is why we need guns?

There has been some talk recently, marginalized and largely ignored, by surgeons and ER physicians and people familiar with treating gunshot wounds, to make us pay attention to what bullets do.

Not the bullets in Hollywood movies, which do whatever the writers want them to do, including bloodlessly enter bodies and render them immediately inert but otherwise unmarred, and certainly not pumping bodily fluids from sudden holes.  It is the Hollywood representation of guns that makes us think we are the heroes of our own action films, that if we only had a gun when the "bad guy" was there, we'd have saved the day.

Of course, it doesn't work that way.

Rep. Steve Scalise is finding out first hand what bullets do.  Reports this afternoon are that he's undergoing a third surgery for what the bullet that hit him in the hip did to him internally.  There are fragments, there are damaged organs, there are complications.   He remains in critical condition. You seldom see this kind of thing in a Hollywood movie, and when you do it's always vague and indefinite and calculated to raise the tension and make you sympathize with the "good guy" who is soon to go forth and slay the "bad guy" in the name the now dying comrade.  And the good guy will always hit his mark and the bad guy won't hit the broad side of a barn at 10 paces, and guns will win against guns again.

I do not think Steve Scalise deserves to learn the lesson of what it is to be on the receiving end of gunfire.  I have no doubt the lesson he will learn, should he live (and I pray that he does), is that he, too, should have had a gun; that two armed police officers was clearly not enough to stop the "bad guy with a gun."

And I don't think we'll take the lesson from this real-world experience (even as we ignore so many other victims of gun violence as if they were simply extras in our national movie).  We will go on pretending guns have totemic value, or symbolic value, or even Constitutional value, rather than look at them for what they are:  devices for hurling pieces of metal into other people at very high velocities, with very unpredictable results.

That's what guns are for;  this is what bullets do.

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