Friday, September 15, 2017

Bullet The Blue Sky

Thinking of innovations, from the sundial to the online emoji generator, what would you most like to un-invent?

This is going to sound strange coming from a writer who fills his pages with bullets, but I would un-invent any and all handgun innovations since the six-shot revolver. The issue of gun violence and homicides is near to my heart, after losing several members of my immediate and extended family to the bullet, easily fired from the gun of someone who needed not look into the whites of their eyes before doing the deed. My personal philosophy is the end of the body liberates the consciousness of the decedent from the burden of the illusion of onerous existence. The killer, however, doesn't take a life but instead adds a life to their walking karmic debt, and their own challenges are multiplied by the grief of their crime. Perhaps these are the philosophical constructs of a man who has seen far too many guns and gun violence in the first third of his life, but they work for me. They help me focus through the haze of terror in the form of constitutional rights.

Sometimes karmic satisfaction occurs immediately, as with "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" in JUST TO WATCH THEM DIE (Gutter Books, September 2017.) A semi-automatic weapon is given as a purchase reward by a twistedly well-intentioned dealer at a gun show in Mike Pence's Indiana, a stone's throw from Chicago, where assault weapons were banned as far back as the year 1992. That gun is a creation of the intent to spread death, and death comes with cosmic balance, as its custodian comes to realize with gruesome clarity. When so many bullets can hurl through the air with such a generous and forgiving trigger and loading mechanism, it doesn't really matter where they go. Until it does. Then it matters plenty.

More often, guns and the crimes committed with firearms reverberate suffering through the communities they're brought inside, as in my story "Straight Fire," a contribution to the anthology KILLING MALMON (Down & Out Books, October 2017.) In it, to accomplish the task set forth by editors Kate and Dan Malmon of Crimespree Magazine, fictional Danny Gardner kills Dan Malmon simply by bringing him along to share the best barbecue available east of the Dan Ryan Expressway. Much of violence narratives in American crime fiction books and entertainment cast black folk as killers and/or immediate victims. No one ever wonders where the bullets that don't make it into the departed go, and what they do, and what lives they mar. Whereas "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" plays it straight and grim, here my trademark gallows humor is on full display. It just irks me that folks care far too deeply about guns when it's the bullets that violate the flesh, but then in America, we are inured to death, unlike, say, taxes.

I'm a frequent user of, which tracks crime statistics in the greater Chicagoland area with an emphasis on gun violence, policing and all related political activities. It offers some commentary yet provides graphical analysis of the truth of Chicago's problem with such stark accuracy, none is really necessary, or rather it serves as its own commentary, because only the most anti-black of folks can look at images such as these, shrug their shoulders and behave as if it isn't their problem:

Photo: S.W. Lauden
This past weekend, I read an abbreviated version of "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" to an audience at The Frog Spot, which is operated by The Friends of the Los Angeles River. I mentioned that several of white America's issues could have been foreseen in the mirror image of their occurrence in the black community. The economic disenfranchisement of the working-class white voter the Dems and Bernie Sanders covet so openly? It happened as soon as the early nineties when Bill Clinton was in office. It just happened to the black working-class voter, so no one noticed. The opioid epidemic that plagues poor white communities looks identical to the scourge of crack cocaine that decimated African American communities in the eighties and nineties. So when one looks at the data for exponentially increased gun violence in Chicago, perhaps this problem warrants consideration as an American affliction, rather than exclusively a black one, if for no other purpose than preemption.

Why would I un-invent any gun that was innovated after, say, the double-action revolver? I understand the vast utilitarian necessity for firearms. I don't shy away from their benefit to society. It's just that when I sit in grief over my hometown and its issues with gun violence, the truth rings in my mind: Chicago is less violent in the current era than in previous decades, even with Bubba Clinton's mandate of weapons sweeps for public housing and assistance benefits. What is vastly different, however, is the statistic of gun homicides. Fewer people are getting shot, but more folks are dying. Better guns, cheaper ammunition. Put anyone on the mound at Wrigley Field with unlimited swings at the plate and, eventually, they'll hit a home run, even off John Lackey on his best day. This is the scourge that's ruining the place my people called home for generations. It's just too goddamn easy to send thirty bullets into the air before the innate sense of guilt and grief has a chance to take over. The self-accusing spirit in mankind just isn't fast enough. Not for a "Nina with that thirty.*"

We can still have our crime fiction stories. We can still go hunting. Sure, action movies will take a big hit, and Call Of Duty will be a far less kinetic video gaming experience, but if we make everyone have to pull a trigger as many times as they want someone dead, feel the physical effort to get the hammer back each time, to reload the barrel with the focus required, and to aim at discreet targets, we can return gun homicides back to the providence of time. The enemy of rage is time for time is the window where guilt and shame crawl in. This could mean the difference between a murder of the heart and a murder that makes it in the news.

* 9MM Semiautomatic Handgun with a 30-shot magazine for those who prefer to color outside the lines.


For those interested in the works to which I'm referring, check out these titles at your local bookseller, your local library, or online where you enjoy purchasing your print and e-books. As always, thanks for your support and encouragement.

- dg

Works By Danny Gardner



RJ Harlick said...

I couldn't agree with you more about guns, but then I'm Canadian and guns aren't exactly our thing. Good post.

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