Stop, or I’ll – – – – t!

tweet-display2images1“Stop, or I’ll – – – – t”

Two five-letter words have surfaced frequently in the past week as the divisive debates over Twitter and gun violence have continued to mount: shoot and tweet.

Eric Etheridge’s 4/29 NYT article “All Twittered Out?” surveys the mixed feelings that Twitter continues to evoke and suggests reasons why Twitter may not have the same staying power as Facebook and Myspace.  A recent Neilson rating, for example, indicates that 60% of people who tweet or follow twitterers don’t continue to do so from one month to the next.  I myself am one of those people.  Two months back, when I first began this blog, I explored the twitter site and opened an account (simply because I was there and I could) but have yet to find the impulse to tweet or subscribe to someone else’s.  Following my previous post on this subject (see “Maureen Dowd Reluctant to Use Twitter: This could be something to Tweet about”), I was informed of a colleague who uses Twitter with her first year writing students.  Now, this actually made me pause to consider tweeting, but it’s almost May and the semester’s basically over. Que sera sera. 

It remains to be seen whether I will tweet over the summer or simply wish I had a gun to shoot myself over all the chatter the bird-like banter continues to elicit.  That is—a toy gun filled with margarita that I could shoot into my mouth as I lay poolside and contemplate the meaning of life. 

Actually, in all seriousness, I have started to consider getting a gun.  The shootings that continue to make headlines and the editorials these shootings have provoked have actually made me contemplate my right to bear arms. Here is one question I keep asking myself: just because I have a right to own a gun, do I really need to own one? I have a 2 year-old daughter.  Would having a loaded unlocked gun in our home keep us safer should someone break into our home one night, or would it simply make us a greater danger to ourselves?  Every year children find parents’ guns tucked away in bedroom drawers and up on seemingly high and remote closest shelves, and these children too often end up accidentally taking their own life or that of a friend.   

According to Bob Herbert’s 4/24 NYT op-ed, we live in “A Culture Soaked in Blood.” Here is one of my favorite lines from his piece: “We’re confiscating shampoo from carry-on luggage at airports while at the same time handing out high-powered weaponry to criminals and psychotics at gun shows.”  In addition to being soaked in blood, Herbert might have added that we are a melting pot whose ingredients just can’t seem to fully take to one another, steeped in financial and materialistic greed and gender, racial, and religious discrimination (among other varieties).  These are the motivations behind so much of the bloodshed.  As more instances arise of people in debt-ridden despair turning to guns to solve their problems, I’m particularly curious to investigate and compare suicide and homicide-suicide rates from the period following the 1929 stock market crash with those of the present.   A few weeks back, for example, a money-troubled Maryland man killed his wife, two children, and then himself.

Former president Jimmy Carter has also recently weighed in on the gun debate with his 4/26 NYT op-ed “What Happened to the Ban on Assault Weapons?” wherein he laments the 2004 expiration of a ban that outlawed semiautomatic assault weapons such as Ak-47s and Uzis.  Carter’s piece is simple and innocuous, in both its position and its rhetoric.  He makes clear that he’s a card-carrying liberal who also carries a gun.  His gripe lies with some of the views of the NRA and gun lobbyists, which essentially aid and abet criminal access to assault weapons.  My only gripe with Carter lies with his use of statistics; Carter cites the exact same overall numbers as Herbert does—more than 30,000 people die gun-related deaths each year in the United States.  Carter evinces this number as a sort of response to his own question, “What are the results of this profligate ownership and use of guns designed to kill people?” Dear Mr. President, how many of these 30K deaths were the result of an AK-47 or Uzi?  Nonetheless, I do agree with Carter’s bottom line plea: There simply must be a better way to hold private gun dealers and sellers at gun shows to the same restrictions as licensed gun dealers.  Are law enforcement officials present at gun shows? Undercover at gun shows?  If not, perhaps they should be, and, then, if they see any suspicious activity, they can tweet for back up.  If Twitter could help curb social injustices, I might finally start tweeting, too.      



One Response to “Stop, or I’ll – – – – t!”
  1. Stephen Tillman says:

    Professor Nicole, I could (in fact I did) imagine you with a hulking assault rifle pressed to your cheek, letting loose a clapping hail of bullets on the culprit who had the audacity to break into your home. Come to think of it, you and Violet remind me of Slim and her daughter Gracie from the 2002 thriller, Enough.

    But you’re right about the dangers that guns present, and you lean on a few other sources that confirm these dangers. I think the only reason guns are dangerous is because we are “soaked in blood,” as Herbert put it. The reference to guns in video games, movies, and music sort of desensitizes us to their real dangers. What can be said? Use caution?

    Anyhow, I think it’s better that the armed outnumber the unarmed, because it provides a buffer against reckless gun slingers. I came across this quote from an 18th century Italian philosopher named Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria; Thomas Jefferson uses it in his Commonplace book:

    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

    Not to be saucy, Professor Nicole, but I would love to see you (in all your delicacy) brandishing a couple of handguns, packing heat, pumping hot lead. If I were to tweet one month and never return, that’s exactly what I would tweet about.


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