The other night, I was in a cab on my way home to Brooklyn. As I sat in the back seat, I went into my usual mode of checking my phone and entirely ignoring the city streaming past the window. I didn’t pay much attention when I heard voices outside in the street. But I did look up when I heard yelling, and then froze to my seat when I suddenly heard the unthinkable: multiple shots being fired. Two things happened right then, both huge cliches: first, time slowed down, and I watched, mesmerised, as I saw a crowd of people run, bowlegged, in different directions. Then I heard myself ask incredulously, “was that *gunfire*?” And then I heard screaming, an otherworldly noise that cut right to the soul and gives me chills to recall.
What actually happened is still unclear, though it seems that a disagreement led to five people being injured, four shot in the legs, one in the arm. Many of the bystanders had been attending a basketball match at the school that’s right there on that corner, and I can vouch for the fact that many of those screaming lustily were incredibly young.
In the wake of the terrible events in Tucson, everyone is thinking a lot about guns and gun control, though this brought the issue rather closer to home than I’d expected. I truly remain baffled at the easy acceptance that any discussion of gun regulation is a complete political non-starter. Why is it so outrageous to suggest that there should be rules around who can own deadly weapons? Why is nonpartisan debate an impossibility?
Bill Maher puts it best: guns are at the heart of the psychology of the United States, and it seems that there’s a nationwide fantasy that owning a gun will somehow reduce violence and bloodshed. That’s logic that’s upside down and horribly dangerous. Watch Maher discuss the issue with Jay Leno here.