Those arms can’t hold me

I had a gig on December 14.

Nothing could be more normal…

Nothing more normal than a Junker gig at the Union Club on a Friday night in the middle of December, post-finals for lots of students but pre-holiday exodus from our college town.
But I felt anything but normal, because that day a young person wielding intense modern weaponry had shot his way into an elementary school and moved down the halls, finding 20 six year old children and pulling the trigger. He must have looked at them, and my brain shuts down if I try to imagine what he saw, the madness that could possibly turn tiny gap tooth children into targets.

I stood on stage feeling as strange as I have felt standing on stage in almost twenty years of standing on stage.

I felt like everyone should be grieving.
I felt like I should have insisted on paying a moment’s notice to this completely wrong, wrong, wrong day.

And for the first time in my life, standing on stage and looking out at my beloved Missoulians having all different types of evenings out…. for the first time, I wondered who was packing heat.
And why.

For the first time, I imagined what would happen if someone whipped their trench coat to the side, revealed some terrifying weapon of death and started firing. In the Union Club.

The bar was armed, I realized.

I was utterly sure that there were people a stones throw away who were carrying guns.

And it made me feel… not safer at all.

The scene that unfolded in my imagination included many concealed weapons coming out and the chaotic result was horrific.
I continue to read commentary about what “could have happened had someone at Sandy Hook been armed” — that kind of Sunday morning second guessing makes my stomach hurt.

Since that night, I have had these flashing images over and over. Walking home alone from work and realizing I am almost certainly walking amongst people who are carrying concealed weapons… is that supposed to make me feel safe? Am I supposed to get my own concealed weapon and spend my precious time and energy learning how to use it in the deadliest of fashions, so that if, like a lightning strike, somebody else pulls out THEIR deathtool, I can somehow, and against all evidence, pull off, amid my terror, some kind of Dirty Gracie manouever??

That is crazy talk. It is egoism and superhero mentality and plain crazy talk.

Those arms don’t hold me. I am not safer because of your gun.


4 thoughts on “Those arms can’t hold me

  1. Missoula probably has more guns and concealed carry permits than Oregon, and we have plenty (thank you very much) as was demonstrated on Dec. 11 at a local mall. Any sort of a gun accident or slaying is a tragedy and we have inured ourselves to them to the point where it takes something horrific like we had in CT to make us wake up and take stock.

    • Steve, you’re right– Montana actually ranks 3rd in the nation for guns per capita. I was wrong in my post though– conceealed weapons are not allowed in places that serve alcohol– assuming people follow that rule– there were not as many guns in the Union Club as I assumed… But it’s still a question of strange faith in the illusory safety that “more guns” provides…

  2. “Those arms don’t hold me. I am not safer because of your gun.” SO well put. Those lines resonate with what continues to bother me as the knee-jerk reactions erupt all around us. Because it’s about arms that hold us. It’s about babies kept in today’s expensive storage containers with straps and baubles rather than in loving arms. It’s about children kept at arm’s length by electronics and busy lives. It’s about people adrift, left without the connections that keep us rooted to a sense of self, of human purpose, of larger meaning. We can’t live without touch. The idea that we’re safer when untouched by concern for others isn’t really living either. I think the answers to violence in our society have much more to do with compassion on the personal and societal scale. Linking arms rather than brandishing them will make us safer.

    • Thanks Laura– I was almost reluctant to even write about this, and I love your extrapolation of all the good that arms, loving human arms, create in the world. Thanks for visiting here — I so look forward to your blog posts.

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