Saturday, November 24, 2012


Moving out to the country, among other major changes, completely alters the soundscape. Summer nights are actually much noisier here than in the city, a raucous multi-layered chorus of birds, frogs and insects that never ceases, but slowly evolves over the course of the night, and the seasons. In winter, obviously, it gets much quieter at night, but there is one sound you very seldom hear in the city, that happens here every day. If you do hear it in the city, obviously, it has a completely different meaning.

There's a neighbor -- well, probably across the river, a mile and a half away or so -- who has to empty a 12 or 15 round clip every evening at about 5:30. Some guys need a martini every night, he needs to shoot up his cardboard cutout of Barack Obama or whatever it may be. It might be the same guy who occasionally needs to get off a few rounds at 7:30 am, but that's less compulsive.

Then there's the dude -- a state police officer, it turns out -- who has shooting parties every few Saturdays. For hours on end it's like downtown Aleppo around here, with every kind of weapon going off in erratic patterns, including what I'm pretty sure are bombs. What are you gonna do, call the cops?

This time of year, there's another kind of shot: a single round from a high-powered rifle, at any unpredictable moment. That means one less antlered rat to chew on my fruit trees. I'm not against it, in fact I commend it as having at least a rationale. It does mean it just isn't safe to walk in the woods this time of year, because you can't trust that these guys are competent or even sober. The farmers have guns as well to defend their crops from the woodchucks, and maybe put a turkey on the table once in a while. Nothing wrong with that.

So, it's important to understand that the controversy over regulation of firearms and firearm ownership it not purely tribalism or wacko far right militants vs. the good and decent people who don't particularly appreciate the consequences of bullets going where they should not. There are cultural differences, but also very concrete contextual differences, that shape the conflict. A politician of real genius could find a way to talk about this that acknowledges everybody and doesn't make them feel threatened. At least I would hope so.

Hasn't happened so far.

1 comment:

  1. It shouldn't be too difficult to explain the differences between hunting rifles and assault weapons. I think the NRA likes obfuscation. A gun is a gun is a gun.

    We hardly ever hear a gunshot here. I think our neighbor aimed, shot, and missed a bear two years ago. That's about it. I do read several bloggers back east who have been compelled to stay indoors out of fear of their local hunters.