The Difference Between the NRA & Me is that I Was at Columbine. ~ Mark-Francis Mullen

Via elephant journal
on Feb 9, 2013
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Why do people feel the need to own guns?

I feel there is something much deeper they are looking for, something more than just an automatic Heckler and Koch MP-5SD with a 30-round banana clip and a detachable night-vision scope (or a Red Rider BB gun, or whatever ‘cool gun’ image they have in their heads).

I can’t really speak for others, but I know when I was running down the street towards Columbine High School (empty-handed) and listening to the shots, what I wanted was not any particular gun model but something more—the ability to hold off chaos, to stare the elephant in the face and make it back down.

This manifested in my society-conditioned mind as the desire to have a gun, any gun, so that I could shoot the f*ck out of those nuts that were shooting at my son—and make them stop!

It wasn’t until after the dust settled that I realized the absurdity, and ultimate futility, of this desire—or until I realized the affliction this type of thought represented. Thinking that more violence will solve the problem of violence is not just illogical and poor thinking—it is a dangerous and unhelpful misconception.

No amount of guns can stop the unpredictable nature of life, or the second law of thermodynamics—chaos rules and all things tend toward entropy. All the guns in Texas cannot make the world a safe and predictable place. And, you can’t make your enemies see your way by virtue by way of a firearm.

gun show terrorism domestic gun control

The biggest gun in the world will not make you a badass, if you aren’t one already.

And after all, who really wants to be a badass? No one really likes a badass, and yet, everyone loathes and fears one. A party full of bad asses is not a party–it’s a disaster. Badasses do not rank high on the better invitation lists.

We who abhor guns are tempted to try to use force to make the gun people see reason, to give up their futile guns, to see it our way, to knuckle under to the wishes of the saner portions of society.

That tactic won’t work with the die-hard gun fanatics. That type of stuff just makes them hunker down, dig in their heels and clutch their precious guns even more tightly. Besides, then we are using the same approach that we want them to stop using: violence.

Hypocrisy never helps.

Besides, our government has tried ‘making’ people do things before. They built penitentiaries to make the criminals become better citizens. They tried to legislate morality. They even invaded other sovereign countries to force them become a better member of the world community—or, to at least make them stop being such a ‘bad’ member. In all of these cases, both parties in Congress tried to force each other to bend to their will or power.

And how did all of that work for us?

Why do we think it will work with people who sport stickers saying we can have their guns when we pry them from their cold, dead fingers? It hasn’t worked before, what would make force work this time? I suggest we would get further with education than with force. Yet, I feel many thousands more will be murdered in the time it takes to get through to people.

Reality check:

You are more likely to shoot your spouse—or to provide a gun for your child to shoot their friend, or God forbid, their sibling—than you are to successfully use that weapon to defend yourself or your country. This is just plain, and verifiable, fact.

Photo: Agitprop
Photo: Agitprop

Then why do the gun fanatics ignore all the gruesome evidence? Hollywood, and the NRA, have conditioned them to believe that this approach of non-violence won’t work that way for them. That they’ll somehow beat these odds and make the world a nicer, safer place with their gun—and, in the end, become a hero to the accolades of all (even their previous detractors).

Even if force could be solved by force, what makes people think they can solve these imputed problems themselves, when all others throughout history have failed? Are we modern Americans better, faster, stronger, healthier than our predecessors? Or, is it that our bigger and more powerful guns are supposed to help us in some way?

Soldiers have the most powerful weapons available. They train for months and years, to use these weapons in support of a coordinated team, and yet, they still fail to beat force with a bigger force on a regular basis.

What then makes people think that the average morbidly obese, untrained and unsupported American can do any better? Is it massive ignorance, a missing piece of the brain (or heart), or just blind arrogance? I’m leaning towards blind arrogance, which has been the bane of the peaceful and non-peaceful throughout time. That, and the massive brainwashing of false ideas from both Hollywood and the trillion-dollar gun industry—which loves the distorted type of thinking gun advocates typically exhibit.

To a hammer, the whole world looks like nails. To a person with a gun in their hand, the whole world looks like a target.

What would have happened if I had not turned around when the SWAT got there? If I had gone into that school (Columbine High School) with a gun in my hand?

First, I would have already been too late, for the shots I heard while running turned out to be the last shots fired. Yet what if, in my adrenaline-charged state, an innocent kid ran out of a door unexpectedly? Chances are I would have shot that kid—perhaps, mistaking them for the ‘bad guy’ in the heat of the moment. And in doing so, I would have made this whole situation worse.

But, what if I was not ‘too late’? A shootout in a school with some heavily armed nuts? Yeah, that sounds like a solution—one in which even more innocent bystanders get killed and maybe my own self, as well. So then, I would be adding to my son’s trauma by giving him a dead dad. Great deal, eh?

Meddling or fighting violence with violence is demonstrably ridiculous. It’s a childish and Neaderthalian way of reasoning and solving problems.

So, that ‘great reason’ for gun ownership is out.

Yeah, but what if a bunch of Chinese paratroopers suddenly came falling from the sky? Well, if that happened, your Red Dawn fantasy would most likely end with you dying. A bunch of fat, individualistic Americans with no training and civilian-owned guns are not going to stop an invasion by a well-trained and well-equipped professional force. So, scratch that ‘Bruce Willis saves the world from evil’ fantasy reason, too.

Oh, well…what if we need the guns to stop a rampant government gone insane?

Handwritten note of Rep. Gabriel Giffords.
Handwritten note of Rep. Gabriel Giffords.

Folks that sounds good in books and in gun debates, but how far do you think our semi-automatic weapons will do against killer drones, F-16s, and the 101st Airborne? If the government goes nuts and we want to stop it—it will be through peaceful means, and within the system. Because, your puny guns sure won’t stop this Leviathan.

That leaves the old excuse of hunting and sportsmanship. Look, I got news for you—hunting animals with a high-powered rifle and a scope (and God forbid, a tree-stand, in a backwards-ass place that allow such nonsense) is the opposite of good sportsmanship.

If you want to make it sporting, give your quarry a chance. Use a bow and arrow and hunt it. Creep and crawl and use your outdoor skills to show what a ‘Great White Hunter‘ you really are—not by using a lot of technology made for weaklings who don’t know how to really hunt.

Scratch that feeble excuse, too.

Oh yeah, self-protection—that’s a big one. Just how good a shot are you? Can you plug a robber when half awake, in the dark? Probably all that you’ll be able to do is to get yourself and your family killed. Without the gun, they would probably just rob you. When you are holding a gun, you force them (in their minds) to shoot you, and then kill your family as witnesses. And, if your home defense plans succeed? You’ll have killed a human being to protect…what? Your precious TV set?

Say you are on the streets and a gang of mean kids wants to mug you. If you are empty-handed, you will maybe get an ass-kicking and lose a few bucks (and possibly, a little false pride.) Yet, if you have a gun, suddenly you become a bad ‘mo-fo’ who ‘ain’t taking no shit from anyone.’ So you kill (or shoot) them—just to save the money in your wallet or prevent a black eye. Would that be worth it? How much time would you have to spend in court or jail until your ‘innocence’ is proven? How would you like to see their exploding heads or dying gasps for the rest of your life, every night at 3:00 A.M.? Would that be worth it, just to save some money…or pride? Self-defense is as stupid a rationalization as defense of this country.

So, that leaves…target shooting. Yeah, what a sport…what a challenge. It’s really tough to hit a stationary target with a scoped weapon, isn’t it? If you want to pound your chest about what a great target shooter you are, go get a longbow, or a tomahawk, or something that takes skill—not something that uses a weapon (and a scope) to mask your lack of skill.

So, that brings us back to fear. These scared people think guns will somehow solve their problems, or, at the very least, make them tough and safe.

When have guns ever solved a problem? In nearly every situation, guns cause problems, instead of solving them.

The Constitution of the United States does indeed state that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ We live in an ostensibly democratic country. Which means, that the people who want guns to go away will have to unite and vote to repeal the second amendment. Nothing less will do. Bandaging an arterial bleed by using partial and unconstitutional restrictions will simply exacerbate the problem.

Likewise, if the shooters in our country succeed in voting to defend the Second Amendment, or worse, make a new one with clearer wording about gun ‘rights,’ then we will all have to accept that as well—even if it does brand our country as a semi-psychotic and poor neighbor to all other countries on ‘Spaceship Earth.’

If that happens, maybe we can change the slogan on our one dollar bills to ‘In Guns We Trust.’

Still, at some point, an international coalition may decide the U.S. needs to be brought under control and the may impose some form of sanctions on us. Yes, peaceful means, not the invasion the gun nuts hope for.

At that point, saner voices may rule, even if those sane voices are not the majority of the American public.


markMark-Francis Mullen is lucky enough to live in Boulder, Colorado amongst a vibrant yoga community. He is called to be a guide to those who think they are ‘too something’ for yoga (too old, too sick, too fat, etc.). He loves life.

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18 Responses to “The Difference Between the NRA & Me is that I Was at Columbine. ~ Mark-Francis Mullen”

  1. Margi says:

    Super! I couldn’t agree with you more. In order to face my own aversion to guns, I decided to enroll in a gun safety course in which we were ultimately required to shoot at targets. It worked. No more aversion, definitely no fascination. Thanks again – great article.

  2. del shannon says:

    You are a hypocrite. You talk about non-violence, and non-aggression, and blah blah blah while being ridiculously dismissive and aggressive towards those who don’t share your views, suggesting that all gun owners are uneducated, untrained, and obese.

    There is no talking to people like you.

    Another example of Elephant’s selective policy on respectful dialogue.

    Also, statistics contradict the very few rational arguments you make, the rest is just emotional fluff.

  3. tabsmagic says:

    Mark Mullen is everything but a hypocrite. He is one of the most worldly experienced and open hearted people that I have the pleasure of knowing, Please do not make personal attacks on those that do not share you point of view.

    Coming from a country with a gun law I find this whole issue very frustrating. Please dont quote stats to me and tell me that violent crime in the UK is a high as in the USA. In the UK a fisty-cuffs pub brawl ends in nothing more than a damaged ego and a black eye. If there was a free for all on guns then I suspect that there would be more shootings also. In the heat of the moment when the adrenaline is pumping anyone given a gun is likely not to make a very wise decision.

    Please do not be afraid of not being allowed to own a gun. Coming from a country where this law is operational I can tell you it doesn't threaten your safety. Domestic guns are not going to save your life, but inability for anyone on an adrenaline rush to use a gun as a quick threat may well do. We are all capable of "losing it' when we are scared or stressed, having a gun in the house at hand for those moments is not a good idea.

    Thats my opinion, and I do not expect you to share it, but please dont feel that my aversion to guns is a personal attack on you or anyone that does own a gun, I am sure that you are a loving and kind person- with or without a gun 🙂

  4. Mark-Francis Mullen says:

    Hi Del…you say there's no talking to people like me. I wonder how you know what people like me are like, since you've never talked to me. Peace, Del…

    Still, I'd love to hear the statistics you mentioned. Your critique is nice, but useless since you don't really mention specifics. General bile does not help me improve, but specifics may. Hmmm, I'll re-read and look for dismissive aggressiveness, since you pointed it out so appropriately and courteously. Nice interactive skills, Del : )

    PS…are you the famous Del Shannon?

  5. Kevin Schroder says:

    "[R]idiculously dismissive and aggressive", Where in this article does that occur?

  6. kmacku says:

    To be fair, hypocrisy is not terms for the undoing of a moral or ethical argument. When a murderer after sentencing says, "Don't murder people," he's a hypocrite. He's also right. So calling someone a hypocrite for the purposes of undermining their argument, whether or not you are right, won't help your case.

    The editors had a rough time with this one because of the language; you imply that there are not just a handful, but several articles promoting a one-sided argument about a respectful dialogue. This probably has to do more with the kinds of submissions and audience that frequent the website. Elephant is not required to have an unbiased point of view, though as a journalism site it does its best to promote such; however, if you—or someone with decent argumentative and writing skills—was to write a response to this argument with citations and statistics to back it up, it would likely get published as well. The problem is likely that there's not a lot of pro-gun ownership elephant readers, much less writers. So, again, citing the publisher for the other side not presenting an equally passionate article is not a defense of your point of view—if anything, it's a sign that, in lacking people to argue for it, maybe the argument cannot stand.

    Calling someone out for getting emotional when they were *at Columbine* is a low blow. Maybe you forgot, but people (humans) died there—violently. Generally, in human societies, violent deaths are valid cause for emotion, and pathos (an appeal to emotions) is one of the primary forms of argument as outlined in Aristotle's "Appeals."

    Rather than tearing apart (sorry, attempting to tear apart) someone's argument for disagreeing with you, I would again encourage you to, in the spirit of getting a point across, get your own point across; you could do this by way of an article, wherein you cite the statistics that you so claim contradict the points the author raised. If you can manage a respectful dialogue (though elephant may have a differing opinion on what exactly that is from you), then there is little doubt in my mind that it would be published. You could also instead provide a link to a sufficiently-formed argument already provided by capable writers.

    Right now, the argument you're trying to form is that elephant of course wouldn't publish a pro-gun rights article. Here is the link to one:

    Here is your chance to get your point across. I encourage you to take it.

  7. Hi there Del,

    As you may or may not be aware, elephant is largely reader created. We are happy to print a wide variety of viewpoints on the topics we cover, and have indeed published several articles from the other perspective here:

    As well as others that discuss both sides of the issue.

    While statistics can be used to support nearly any conclusion, it's hard to refute the idea that if you have a gun in your home, you are more likely to suffer from a gun related injury or fatality. There are clearly people who do things "the right way" where guns are concerned, yet as with many things, they are not the majority.

    If you'd like, we'd love to receive an article from your perspective! Send it in: [email protected]

  8. Mark Ledbetter says:

    I don't know a thing about guns, a lot less clearly than Mark M knows. But I have to come to Del's defense a bit. He's wrong about Elephant's unwillingness to print all sides, as several have pointed out, and probably wrong about Mark M being a hypocrite. But he's not really wrong about the article being 'dismissive and aggressive.'

    There IS a common attitude among anti-gun people that sees gun people as 'neanderthal,' a word that finds its way into this article. There are some harsh and unfair assumptions about gun owners here usually phrased in terms of psychological analysis. Gun people are "fanatics who ignore evidence" and they have been "conditioned" to their beliefs (as if anti-gun people haven't). Though it's not entirely clear, the article is written in such a way that gun people are the ones with "massive ignorance, missing brain and heart parts, and blind arrogance." Gun people are "brainwashed by Hollywood and the gun industry" and suffer from "distorted thinking." They only like guns because they are scared idiots who want to feel tough.

    I once spent a week in gun country. REAL gun country. Big Bone, Kentucky. The people there were the friendliest I have ever seen in America. And no one ever locks their doors when they go out. The sense of safety was similar to what I feel here in Japan, something that used to be common in America but is not any more. And something essential, I think, to a civilized community.

    People here get "dismissive" (NICELY dismissive, as this is Elephant! But dismissive all the same) when Del says there are statistics which disprove the article. But Del's right. There actually are multiple studies that show gun ownership reduces crime and violence in America (btw, Americans ARE violent, with or without guns, so you can't make a simplistic comparison of, for example, gun America and non-gun Japan). Don't ask me where those statistics are, as this is not my field so I can't point you in that direction, but authoritative studies apparently do exist. And are always ignored by the mainstream press.

    And the 2nd Amendment…

    People on BOTH sides ignore the critical first phrase, about militia defense being essential. The writers of the Constitution disagreed about many things but they were rock solid on this: standing armies are the greatest threat to liberty, therefore the country must be protected by militia. Like Switzerland, where it's been a successful policy for 700 years in a warlike continent. And like Israel, and it works there, too. Neither society is exactly violent, btw. The reason, and the ONLY reason, we in America junked militia defense is because we wanted to be an empire. Empires need standing armies. I say, keep militia defense, keep the 2nd amendment, get rid of standing armies and empire. And THEN we can talk about reasonable controls on assault weapons.

  9. Mr.Science says:

    I read del’s comment a bit differently. To me it appeared that he was saying that the policy Elephant has about so called respectful dialogue is applied at the whims of the editorial staff.

    This article is not respectful dialogue, yet is posted here.

    If an article promoting the consumption of meat used similar insults against Vegans, it would never be published here, but since it is gun owners being insulted it is just fine.

    I have seen this happen a lot in the comments. You can simply get away with a lot more if you agree with the bent of the editorial staff.

  10. Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Science, but there's no conspiracy afoot. We can only publish articles we receive, and while we do receive a variety, the majority of our readers and writers have similar values. We have printed articles on why and how people should be omnivores (quite a few actually) and I've listed several of our pro-gun or anti-gun control articles above.

    The editorial staff is not some looming corporate entity; it is 4 hard working editors and a wonderful staff of apprentices. The editorial staff also is made up of people with a wide variety of opinions with one shared goal here: mindful dialogue. Mark-Francis pushes the envelope a bit here, but adds to the conversation. Instead of crying censorship or bias, why not skip the fake name and step up and write something of your own?

  11. Well, as far as stats go, one that stands out to me is that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens:

    You can find stats that might show a correlation between more guns and less deaths by gun violence. You can also find the opposite. As helpful as statistics can be, I think they are often spun to support whatever conclusion the user is trying to make.

    Personally, I don't find statistics to be necessary to conclude that the average American citizen does not need to own an assault weapon, but I am glad to see the discussion continuing.

  12. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Kate, I think you might be overreacting a bit to Mr. S. It doesn't look to me like he's crying conspiracy here. Just pointing out that you can get away with more if you agree with the slant of the staff. It would be surprising it it were otherwise, but still, it's good to have someone around to remind you, don't you think?

    Rereading my own comment, I've convinced myself that this article is actually quite disrespectful. After Del, myself, and Mr. S called the writer on it, it seems you have come to recognize that fact: "He pushes the envelope a bit here." But did you or anyone notice that he pushes the envelope before it was pointed out? I suspect you didn't, which is why it's good to have whistle blowers from the other side. Anyway, kudos for being open-minded enough to recognize that, and for being the only ele-ite willing to say so.

    Also, people sometimes have good reasons for not using their names. Waylon once challenged someone with a similar comment about the 'cowardice' of 'hiding' behind fake names. I pointed it out to him that their are lots of possible reasons for anonymity. As I recall, Waylon took that as a good point.

  13. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PS, let me throw in a word of gratitude, too. I mean, you four on the staff and the legions of apprentices are clearly hard-working. You four are likely underpaid, possibly non-paid, the apries almost certainly non-paid. Yet y'all keep putting out a good product and one where you really do try to keep it open to all sides. Just wanted to let you know I've noticed.

  14. […] He had crept from the ‘comfort’ of his small bed in the earliest hours of this May morni…. And, as he made his way through the piled-high filth of the ‘night before’—this young boy, with just 10 short years of life and living under his belt, had just one thought on his mind… […]

  15. Thanks Mark. Yes, we did notice the envelope pushing ahead of time. This was his revised, more moderate version!

    It can be a good thing to push the boundaries, just a little on either end to keep those of us that are more in the middle from becoming complacent. I also commented on Mr. S. pre-coffee and a little grouchy, so take that with a grain of salt!

    I do recognize the need for anonymity in many cases, but it also seems that anonymity plus the vastness of the internet (in many cases) leads to pretty obnoxious behavior…not so much in this case, but it does get out of hand at times.

    Thanks for always commenting civilly, regardless of whether or not you agree!