Some devices send out mysterious compelling signals to our brains, demanding to be used. A toothbrush and a vacuum cleaner, not so much. But as my friend Andy Lippman observed, a TV “needs watching”. Frodo’s ring wanted to be worn, and a gun wants to be fired at something. There are guns and guns, and I’ve played with a fair variety of them. A few fairly specialized types are for punching holes in paper, and others are used to break up clay ashtrays in midair, but nearly all guns are for killing animals. Among these, some are specialized for killing people-type animals, and almost all handguns are for killing people from fairly close up; they aren’t very accurate, and it doesn’t take a powerful cartridge to register on a target.
The psychology of people who own handguns and never get to use them as they are designed to function, which is nearly all people who own handguns, is sort of a mystery to me. If I could only clean my kitchen stove but never cooked anything to eat on it, or endlessly fixed and fussed with my car but never drove it anywhere, I think I would be deeply frustrated, but go figure.
In Florida, and IIRC some other states, the law has recently been changed to ameliorate this frustration. In Florida you may kill anyone who’s not in an iron lung machine, or comatose, at will, as long as you do it with no-one else around and you are willing to say you were scared of your victim at the time. Really. You can probably shoot him in the back if you say you thought he was going for a piece tucked in his belt. Trayvon Martin was armed with Skittles, (which, to be fair, can kill you from diabetes), and George Zimmerman, who apparently spent night after night out and about with his 9mm burning a hole in his pocket, finally got to use it for what it’s supposed to do. I’m aware of no statement of regret from Zimmerman, and it appears that he’s in good shape legally, at least for now.
I wonder how long until his piece starts asking to be fired at someone again; he still has it, so his fellow citizens are obviously down with how he’s prone to use it. It’s important to know your friends and neighbors have your back.
Or how many more Floridians, on his good example, will start letting their Glocks and Berettas off the leash when they get a little antsy on a deserted street.