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Guns are to killing as bats are to homers

Posted: August 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Hold out your right hand and look at it, palm facing toward you.

Take your index finger and quickly pull it back one half inch and return it to its fully extended position.

Now repeat that action three times, each time pulling the tip of your finger back quickly and then returning your finger extended.

Pop. Pop, pop, pop!

Gone, Abraham Lincoln. Gone, John Kennedy. Gone, Martin Luther King Jr. Gone, Bobby Kennedy.

That half-inch pull on your figure is, of course, the effort required to fire a gun and send its targetfrom here to eternity in fractions of a second. 

Just a quick little pull is all it takes and, “Pop!” — another life lost, potential never realized, our common future altered forever. We will never know the full loss of lives cut short if victims had the chance to live.

You’ve heard it a million times and perhaps you have come to believe it: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” I recently read a columnist who quipped, “Guns don’t kill people — as though Babe Ruth hits homers without bats.”

It’s fun to turn that disingenuous gun adage on itself, as we know it’s the bat that makes the homers possible for the Babe, and also that few perpetrators could stomach murder should they be reduced to knifing their victims to death, wrestling them to death, bludgeoning them to death, or running them over with the family car.

Like bats for home runs, that quick half-inch pull of the finger on a gun makes all the difference in “killing it.”

The “guns don’t kill people” folks also imply that the lives lost in America’s war of domestic gun violence either aren’t so very important or perhaps had it coming — as though America is a nation full of 30,000 suspicious Trayvon Martins a year.

Somehow, we bury all the Sandy Hook kids in our minds — as well as in the ground — pretending they’re not “our” kids or like “our” kids.

We squeeze the humanity out of our own thinking, causing ourselves to sense they’re less important. Or maybe we just resign ourselves to accept that such losses are an inevitable part of life.

But America doesn’t just lose “someone else’s” kids, it doesn’t just lose gang members, doesn’t just lose victims of distraught spouses or lovers.

We lose our kids, our friends, our leaders and the very future we could have had for our families, friends, and country, had the future not been gunned down by a quick pull of an index finger.

John Wilkes Booth pulled his finger half an inch in Ford’s Theatre, and Abraham Lincoln became our first assassinated president. With his loss, the future of America was forever changed from real reconstruction to carpet-bagging and abusive race relations.

Nearly a century later, Lee Harvey Oswald pulled his finger half an inch and John Kennedy’s brains are strewn across his Lincoln Continental. With that tragedy, civil rights and social justice ricochet back in time.

Rosey Grier pinned Sirhan Sirhan after the insidious assassin pulled his finger half an inch multiple times, snuffing out Robert Kennedy’s promising life just as America regained hope for a progressive future. That famous Rams player would have been fast enough to stop Sirhan had the weapon been a knife, but a speeding bullet is too fast for even football stars.

Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. — and who knows how many other civil rights leaders — all went down the same way, and America lost the hope that might have allowed greater equality with much less violence and despair.

Without hope people falter, and we’re witnessing the loss of generations of minorities as they struggle against hopelessness. That loss begins to ring out the true cost of America’s toleration of guns.

The hard right remembers they, too, almost lost their dear leader when Reagan took a bullet in his side while Jim Brady took one to his head, shielding Reagan from death.

Progressivism usually suffers the assassin’s gun, but in Reagan’s case, a nutcase trying to impress Jodie Foster chose a gun for his bat to “hit a homer and impress the crowds.”

That we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of loved ones in our homeland gun war is bad enough. When we consider the loss of our very best and brightest leaders to the same fate, the enormity of the cost settles in deeper.

“As though Babe Ruth could hit homers without bats.” As though all these deaths could or would have happened without guns. America’s gun policy has rightfully made us the pathetic, impotent, laughingstock of the advanced world.

Steve Jobs insightfully called computers “mind amplifiers.” Guns are “murder amplifiers,” and with an easy half-inch pull of the finger they fulfill their purpose far more easily than more manual murder methods.

Think “guns are to murders as baseball bats are to homers” and you’ll internalize the pathetically manipulative logic the NRA has successfully sold America at a devastatingly high cost to our past and future — and the dearest parts of our hearts.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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