by Mike Todd

“Dude, that gun shop is causing this traffic jam” is a sentence I’d never uttered before last Saturday afternoon, but then, just a few miles down the road from our house, our family got stuck behind a Wal-Mart-sized crowd trying to squeeze into the little gun shop with three parking spots out front.

I almost beeped at one of the cars in front of me as it crawled through the gauntlet of shoulder-parked vehicles, looking for the least illegal place to park, but then I remembered that cars don’t cause traffic jams. People do. Well, now that I think about it, people and cars together cause traffic jams. You really need both of them.

My first thought was to jump out of our car and join the crowd, since the zombies were clearly going to be upon us any minute. But then I realized that these people were not scared of zombies descending upon us. It was worse. The sensible gun regulations were coming. Possibly.

Ever since the shootings that still make us cry if we think about them too much, guns have been everywhere, if not backing up traffic on our street, then dominating the discussion on Facebook. The topic touched a nerve with me enough that I dabbled in a few Facebook arguments, something I’d never tried before and never will again. Arguing on Facebook is fun for a few minutes but ultimately unfulfilling, like eating caramel corn for lunch and doing so while a high school acquaintance’s second cousin is calling you ignorant.

Nobody in a Facebook argument is ever going to say, “Wow, I see it differently now. Thanks for changing my opinion.”

Your time would be much better spent sledding with your kid or plucking nose hairs. I understand that gun ownership is an important right and that without guns, we’d have a national crisis of figuring out what the dads in country music lyrics should brandish to threaten their daughters’ suitors. Pitchforks just don’t have the same cachet.

But I can’t understand why so many people think that anything we do to keep the most dangerous weapons away from the most dangerous people means that we’re sliding down the slippery slope towards government thugs coming in the night to confiscate Ralphie’s Red Ryder.

I don’t begrudge anyone their regular old house-protecting, deer-dropping firearms; really, nobody outside of the nearest drum circle does. (After all, you never know when some sneaky, lowlife deer will try to kidnap your children.) But if we can’t agree that it’s not a good idea for civilians to have access to military-style weapons, I may have to get my own Predator drone to follow me around all day, ready to rain down Hellfire missiles if things get out of hand. That makes just as much sense since Hellfire missiles don’t kill people. People using Hellfire missiles for their intended purpose kill people.

Among the many illuminations I’ve received from Facebook, one recurring theme seems to be that a gun-toting populace helps to keep our government in check. In theory, this sort of makes sense, but things get a little murkier when I think about what this would mean in practice. Whom exactly are we trying to intimidate? If you’ve attracted the government to your house, say, in the form of a SWAT team, no offense, but there’s a 99.9% chance I’m rooting for the government. I reserve the 1% in case you’re Bruce Willis, in which case you’re probably just a misunderstood good guy.

If you’re interested in doing pretty much anything that you’re legally allowed to do with a gun, seems like you could do it with a gun that shoots, say, six or 10 bullets before requiring a little breather. But that, somehow, is a controversial opinion, and one that sends mobs fleeing into the little gun shop down the street. I hope those people feel safer now. I don’t.

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