The Guns In Our Lives: Epilogue

Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 9:18:00 AM

Steve Stajich

Steve Stajich, Columnist
Santa Monica Mirror Archives
Steve Stajich, Columnist

There’s theory and there’s fact. My last column attempted

to focus on gun issues by way of the story of the prop gun purchased for

service in a theater piece of mine currently being performed in Culver City.

I

talked about how the plastic ‘toy’ pellet pistol I bought at a sporting goods

store took on a kind of power once I had removed the orange tip indicating it

wasn’t real and then spray painted it flat black. It now had the look and

dimensions of a real weapon. Brandished in public, the prop gun could easily be

taken for real and could thus invoke a tragedy.

And that’s something of a summation of where we’re at

right now with guns in America; the stasis of guns bringing on more guns to

answer guns. Of course, unlike props or realistic toys, real guns consistently

and efficiently invoke tragedy. And as you would with dynamite or other

explosives obviously attempt to keep guns under some measure of control and

oversight, instead our nation appears to be having a dialogue about maintaining

our easy access to them. 

A reader of The

Mirror wrote to the paper, specifically to me, wanting to add to the

dialogue regarding that recent column. I was most engaged when the reader took

issue with my closing statement: That creative types writing scripts or making

films or television – many of them having homes in our city – could take “one

simple first step: We could decide to never represent the deployment of guns as

being cool, sexy, ‘hot’… or in any way good.”

The letter to The

Mirror at one point reads as follows: “Only the liberal mind can arrive at

the idea that no use of a gun can be good. You have to be drenched in the

illogic that intentions are more important than results, that emotions are

superior to logic.”  

That gave me pause, and I reviewed the entire column and

in particular that closing statement.

In the broadest strokes, the reader is correct. United

States soldiers do not defeat enemies in combat by deploying clubs or archery.

Osama bin Laden was shot dead, not pummeled with a stick. Sportsmen enjoying

the hunt for a deer or a duck do not throw stones at their targets. And so on.

Now, one at a time, we could debate the “good” in war, assassination of

enemies, and hunting.

But I believe the reader, who made several references to

movies and movie-like action scenarios in dangerous real life situations, meant

a more narrow focus regarding my statement and his reaction. I hope I

accurately represent this view as being that, in certain scenarios, only a gun

can bring a good outcome. So let me respond by looking at a real-life gun event

that just took place in Santa Monica.

Summarizing reporting from The Mirror: On Wednesday, Feb 27 in the 2900 block of Delaware

Avenue in Santa Monica, John Carroll Lowery shot himself in the head after

hours of holding his 86-year-old mother-in-law hostage in the home they

shared. Lowery’s son escaped from the

house and dialed 911 just before 5 pm Tuesday, telling the operator he and his

grandmother had been tied up and taken hostage by his father. Officers responded in large numbers, setting

up a perimeter around the house. Negotiators communicated with Lowery, and they stated that Lowery was

depressed and despondent over his relationship and issues with his wife.

Eventually Lowery untied his mother-in-law, she came out of the house, and

Lowery went quiet. The police deployed gas to get Lowery outside, but he was

eventually found dead in the house with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A gun shot. From a gun event, here in our city, that

would not have had the same dimensions had Lowery not been able to obtain a

gun. But the despondent gun user was able to get a gun, creating a situation

that threatened the safety of an entire neighborhood and put police in danger.

He might have killed his own son and mother-in-law, and then taken his own

life. That sequence would have been arguably more difficult without a gun. Still, a man who might be alive today is

dead. By gun shot.

So it is about this kind of contemporary event that

repeats with soul-numbing regularity that I ask, “Where is the good provided by

the guns?” It is good that the police have guns. But the police have guns because the citizens

can get guns. And citizens do get guns, and then they deploy guns. Law

enforcement is constantly embracing more and better technology for defusing

situations like the Lowery shooting without loss of life or gunfire. But right

now, we have guns vs. guns. Ultimately, where is the good in that? Does maintaining that stasis feel to anyone

like society is moving forward and away from violence as the only means of

resolving conflict? To the reader who wrote me at The Mirror I would say that my intention is to wonder aloud, with

emotion, about the logic of that.

Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.