Living in America: Smoking Guns
Remember when everyone smoked? I do. We watch Turner Classic Movies quite a bit. Classic movie stars smoked like chimneys, and died of lung cancer like coal miners.
In the hey day of Hollywood, smoking was viewed as sexy. People who smoked led glamorous lives. They hung out in hazy night clubs. They consumed mass amounts of martinis, that somehow just made them wittier and sexier than ever and never made them assholes. They were never without a cigarette, often in an elongated cigarette holder, which protected their manicures and kept the nasty nicotine stains at bay.
In the movies, lover’s smoked constantly. They lit each other’s cigarettes with smokey and suggestive bedroom eyes. They dreamily blew smoke in each other’s faces, and the longer and deeper they inhaled, the sexier the scene was likely to be.
Smoking had a very sexy image. The reality of smoking is something else. We know this now.
Smoking isn’t very popular anymore.
Now as I sit and watch William Powell as the Thin Man with a butt in one hand and a martini in the other, I can’t help wondering which killed him first–lung cancer or liver disease.
Smoking is now considered a bad habit. It’s not viewed as sexy or smart or glamorous. I miss that sexy old Thin Man. I miss Bogart and McCall puffing at each other through knowing watery eyes. It’s so sad.
But now we have guns! That is some sexy stuff. If you want to see just how sexy the image around guns has become, Image Google “girls with guns.”
Gun porn is now a “Thing.”
Of course guns have been the stars of video games for decades. Adolescent boys learn quickly–the more people you kill the better you score. Been that way for some of you since the day you realized how handy your little opposable thumbs really are.
In film, gun-toting vigilantes are the modern-day equivalent of valiant soldiers dying in defense of freedom on the battlefields of WWII.
Unrelenting pursuit of those who harm you or your loved ones that ends in sprays of bullets and showers of blood is now the most heroic of themes in the films that thrill and inspire the masses. It just feels so good to see the bad guys get it. Justice is almost always served up courtesy of the barrel of a gun.
In fiction, guns have become so indispensable to conflict resolution that even super heroes are needing them these days. Remember when they relied on superior deductive reasoning and the craft of using hard-won super powers to defeat the bad guys? There are scores of new super hero characters now whose weapon of choice is a big bad gun, so yes kids, that gun in Daddy’s closet can save the world.
Speaking of guns in Daddy’s closet, aren’t Americans a little too damn comfortable with guns? Otherwise, how could a toddler pull a loaded handgun out of Mommy’s purse and kill her in Wal-mart or another kill Mommy as she as she drives down the road??
Could it be we have made guns a little too sexy? A little too convenient? A little too much of a patriotic emblem? A lot too much of a conflict resolution tool, rather than a lethal weapon with unrelenting power to destroy?
Could it be that we have not been forthcoming about the realities of gun violence in our rush to maintain a questionable interpretation of our rights that ignores some very specific language, “for the purposes of a well armed militia” for instance? Can we search our own consciences to honestly access why we are loath to give up personal ownership rights to even the most obvious killing machines in the gun world even as the kids are still bleeding?
Are we even aware of the meat grinder effects on human tissue of the AR 15 rifles that seem to be the gun of choice for mass shooters? Perhaps it’s time to educate people on how un-sexy a gun wound is.
Displaying a smoker’s lung next to a non-smoker’s lung was a pretty effective anti-smoking message. Is it time to start posting photo’s of the damage an AR 15 does to human tissue? It just might be.
Are we willing to continue to water down our gun laws and maintain the right to own certain lethal weapons at the cost of the lives of our children, educators, law enforcement officers and so many other innocents? If so, why? Simply because some have discovered how fun an AR 15 is to shoot? Or because, like a flashy foreign car, no gun collection is truly complete without some semi- automatic weapons in it?
Or because some believe that their conservative view-point equals a higher calling to arm as a militia to protect the constitution in the event of a crisis? Who, might I ask, makes the determination of when we are in “crisis” and when they need to take up arms against the enemy? Who defines the enemy? As a progressive, a dreaded liberal, these are questions I’m dying to know the answers to–hopefully not literally.
Is any of that reason enough to resist the cries of victims who are tired of what the stubborn gun lobby refuses to admit? That guns are indeed killing people.
Yes they are. As sure as cigarettes cause cancer and premature death.
Nobody argues that controlling the sales of tobacco products to minors is useless because it isn’t the products themselves but the use of them that causes harm.
Nobody argues that requiring health warnings on cigarettes is a useless exercise.
We now know that the tobacco industry was aware long ago of the damage cigarettes were doing but what good capitalist gives a rip about public safety when there’s money to be made?
Many conservatives I speak with agree that an AR 15 should be reserved for military or law enforcement personnel and that private citizens have no need for such weapons.
Many agree that we need a workable and mandatory background check system on ALL gun sales. And that we need to make guns less accessible to young people and require gun safety training before ownership.
Many agree that guns should not be allowed in the hands of people with a history of mental illness, domestic violence or threatening behavior that might make them that much more dangerous armed.
Few people are disagreeable to common sense gun control that still allows for hunters to hunt and sports shooters to shoot and people to have hand guns for self protection.
Except the people trying to sell guns as the ultimate symbol of freedom, the ultimate sex symbol, the ultimate expression of personal patriotism, the ultimate power tool.
Can you spell N-R-A?
©2018 by Ilona Elliott