Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mike Royko on Guns & Kennesaw, Georgia

During his tenure at the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune, Mike Royko was one of America's most astute writers of op-ed social commentary and criticism. Royko was prolific to say the least, putting out five columns a week for decades. And his keen insight, as well as brilliant acerbic wit, took journalism to a new level. A generally progressive voice, Royko skewered anyone who deserved it, and some of his columns remain as pertinent today as when they were written decades ago. One of my favorites is his satirical attack on the pro-gun lobby via his reporting of a new law in Kennesaw, Georgia which actually "required" all households to own firearms. Royko's response to the law is brilliant.

If We’re Gonna Have Guns, Let’s Get ‘em
Out in the Open – Or Else!

By Mike Royko, Chicago Sun Times, 1980s

            I kinda’ like the gun law that was just passed by the good ol’ boys down in a Georgia town called Kennesaw. In case you missed it, the law requires every household in Kennesaw to have a gun and ammunition.
            Darvin Purdy, the mayor, says that he and the City Council want the 7,000 residents of Kennesaw to be armed so that they can defend themselves against criminals and any other aggressors.
            Although the new law doesn’t go far enough, I’m all for it.
            That might surprise those who have noted that in the past I’ve been in favor of strict handgun controls. But my views on this subject have changed. It’s become obvious to me that we aren’t going to have effective gun laws in this country. By effective, I mean a nationwide ban on all private handgun ownership, and strict regulation of rifles, shotguns, and other larger weapons. And without a national ban on handguns, the existing laws won’t work.
            So if we are going to continue to have guns, the only sensible approach is to require everyone to have them, as the Kennesaw City Council has recognized.
            But even Kennesaw’s new law doesn’t go far enough in providing citizens with protection against killers, thieves, fiends, communists invaders, and suspicious-looking characters.
            My approach goes this way. All present gun-control laws should be abolished. People should be able to buy guns as easily as they buy ball-point pens, and they should be able to carry them wherever they go – in their pockets, shoved into their belts, in purses, up sleeves, concealed or unconcealed.
            In other words, if we’re going to have guns, let’s really have them. Let’s get guns out in the open where they can do some good. As it is now, most people keep their guns in their homes because in most places there are laws against carrying loaded guns in public.
            The fact is that you’re more likely to be the victim of a crime when you are away from home. Except for husbands murdering wives, wives murdering husbands, parents brutalizing children and friends murdering friends, few violent crimes occur in homes. So if guns are going to be useful in preventing crimes as the National Rifle Association (NRA) wants them to be, the gun must come out of the home. A few hypothetical examples:
            We are always reading about crime on public transportation systems in big cities. Muggers grabbing purses or gold chains. Degenerates whispering lewd romantic overtures to defenseless ladies. Idle teenagers leaping about, shouting and throwing French fries at helpless travelers. In almost every case, the victims and bystanders feel powerless to defend themselves.
            Ah, but if everyone on the bus were packing a gun, it would be different. Somebody snatches a purse. A cry: “That man snatched my purse!” Suddenly 30 or 40 guns are whipped out of pockets, purses, holsters, shopping bags, and briefcases, and everyone begins blazing away.
            Or you’re on an airplane, going on vacation, and suddenly a wild-eyed man stands up and shouts: “Take me to Cuba!” In an instant, 100 passengers draw guns, begin firing, and the skyjacker goes to meet his maker.
            Or let’s say it’s late and you’re walking on a dark street and you see someone coming in your direction. You can’t be certain if that person is a potential threat. But you never know, do you? So, just to be on the safe side, you take out your pistol and casually twirl it a few times. That, you can be sure, will let the other person know you aren’t someone to be trifled with.
            Beyond discouraging criminals, the constant presence of guns on everyone’s person would do much to increase civility and courtesy. Motorists would be less likely to cut each other off in traffic, or blow their horns needlessly, if they knew that the other person had a gun on the seat next to him – and might use it.
            Charges of police brutality would be sharply reduced because the police would be afraid to stop cars or approach people, knowing that everyone was armed.
            People who rudely talk in movie theaters would heed the warning to “Shhh!” for fear that they might get a bullet in the back of the head.
            Oh, there might be a few regrettable incidents. A few innocent bystanders would be winged. An occasional hothead might shoot someone without provocation.
            But that’s the price of preserving our liberty. After all, thousands of innocent people die of gun wounds every year as things stand, and the NRA says that’s well worth the price of gun ownership.
            As a wise man once said: “You’ve got to break a few thousand eggs to make an omelet, right?”


Mike Thiac said...

No Mike, the NRA simply makes the point anything this idiot suggest will have the effect of arming only the law violating and disarming the law abiding.

Also, you may want to check this out. The NRA links to articles on how guns are used by innocent citizens to defend themselves.

But don't let the facts get in the way of a good piece of fiction.

mmazenko said...

Oh, Mike.

I know you won't ever change your mind, and that's OK. And, as Royko sardonically points out, we won't ever have truly effective gun control like numerous other countries that have radically decreased or never faced gun violence. That said, there is no doubt that more and easy access to firearms in the US greatly increases the incidences of this type of random violence. Without easy access to firepower, tragedies like Virginia and Aurora and Virginia Tech. And a fully armed citizenry would not have prevented those attacks. But an unarmed citizenry would be much less likely and able to carry out such attacks.