Posted by: Bill Tracy | September 12, 2012

Shoot Me, Instead

Gun slaughter has now become a cornerstone of our national character.

Maybe this is just a modest proposal.

But, I’m serious. I’d like to make a deal with one of the many mad shooters among us. You out there savoring the reassuring heft of that 40 caliber Glock in your hand. You sliding those 15 hollow points effortlessly into the magazine. And you lovingly caressing the incomparable smoothness of that nickel plated finish. Yes, you with that terrible itch to use your gun for its intended purpose. Instead of shooting some innocent person, a police officer or a bystander, shoot me. Yes, let them and their families and community go about their lives. Instead, shoot me, and be done with it.

Christina Green

Christina Green, nine years old and a murder victim of gun violence.

In the piece I wrote after last year’s Tucson massacre, I mentioned Christina Green, the nine-old girl who was killed: “I would gladly trade places and let her have those other 55 years I got.” I think a lot about that as each day I get daily reminders of the slaughterhouse this country has become, the abattoir of the Americas. Every day more lives are stolen, and more misery is heaped upon families and communities and our national psyche.

The causes are many, but the root cause is apathy, plain and simple. We don’t care. We say we do. We say it’s a tragedy. We say it’s so sad. We say we feel for the victims and families. But, our actions and our inactions give the lie to that. We in the United States care so little for one another we have allowed gun slaughter to become a literal cornerstone of our national character. We simply accept it as a part of who we are. To me, that is staggeringly reprehensible. If I could do something to change it, I would. But I cannot, so I’ll do the only thing I can do. I will put my own life on the line in exchange for the life of an innocent and their years of life ahead of them. I will also ask you who say you care to do the same. If you really care about the children dying every day, put yourself on the line.

I’m going to offer my first direct invitation to Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, since he has so infuriated me with his speechifying. During a memorial service for murdered Philadelphia police officer Moses Walker, Nutter said: “I’m sick of the ignorance and I’m sick of the violence, sick of the deaths and disruption. I’m sick of it! I’ve had enough!” I’m sure it’s personally cathartic and perhaps politically dramatic to emotionally declare you’re sick of it and you’ve had enough. It makes people think you really care. But, unless you do something real to stop it, apparently you don’t care, apparently you haven’t really had enough. You’re not really sick of it. So, as the street thugs I worked with in prisons liked to remind one another, “keep it real.”

Michael Nutter

Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I challenge the mayor to put himself on the line. Make a standing offer — next time someone decides to shoot a Philadelphia police officer, Michael Nutter offers himself, instead. A police officer is spared, and the mayor gets “real” about having had enough.

Now, all valid bargains have costs for both sides. My proposal is not a free ride or a “get out of jail free” card. When you shoot me you will go to prison, and you’ll be in prison for a long time. It’s makes for a pretty easy case of premeditated, first-degree murder. Sure, I lose my life, what’s left of it, and you can’t shoot anyone else for 20 years to life. The innocent life you would have stolen goes happily on, and the family and community is spared a round of bottomless grief.

I’ve said before I believe the United States is now the most violent country in all the history of the world. Scott Knight, Chaska, Minnesota police chief said in testimony to Congress recently that gun violence in this country has killed more people since 1963 than did all our wars in the 20th Century combined. There is nearly one gun for every man, woman and child in this country. Each year nearly five million more guns are sold in the U.S. Kayne Robinson and Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association are paid a combined $2 million each year to make sure nothing interferes with that free flow of guns.

In the U.S., almost 100,000 people are shot each year, 30,000 of those die. Given straight statistics, that means each of us has about a one in four chance of being shot in our lifetimes. Honestly, U.S. troops in Vietnam were safer than we are today in this country. Almost three million U.S. military people were sent to Vietnam during our war on that country. Around 300,000 were wounded or killed. So, you had a one in 10 chance of being wounded if you went to Vietnam. Today you have a one in four chance of being wounded in your own country during your lifetime — by your own countrymen with guns.

Stop SignToday, it seems like every time someone feels wronged in this country, he grabs a gun and goes out to shoot people. We know about the guy in Tucson last year — life wasn’t to his liking so the bullets flew. Also, the guy in Aurora, Colorado this year — fails in school so he uses his high intelligence to massacre innocent people watching a movie. Last summer, nine-year-old Jorge Cartagena of Camden, NJ was shot when he made the mistake of going home from play to feed his pet parakeets. Shot in the head, by mistake, (Yes, oops!) he was blinded for life. Would you care enough about a nine-year-old boy to take that bullet? Or do you, like most of us, just scowl and shake our heads at what a tragedy it is — while talking about it over a good latte?

Well, for me, I really am sick of it. I really have had enough. So, I’m ready to take a bullet to save the life of a Christina Green or a Jorge Cartagena.

How about Michael Nutter — will you put your life on the line, Mr. Mayor? How about you, dear reader? Is this just idle entertainment, or do you care enough? Or is it just easier to send a check to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and hope they can quell this insanity? Let me know, if you want to “keep it real” — I’ll put your name on my list.

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