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Gun Law

by Zettel 

Posted: 14 March 2017
Word Count: 373
Summary: Sorry: going through a political phase

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Gun Law

How do I beat the bullies 
when they are many
And I am only one
When they are organised and strong
The myth of their cowardice
That couldn't be more wrong. 

If losing's not an option
when all's said and done
The answer's very simple friend
Get yourself a gun

How do I protect my family 
When the streets are full of danger
And the law is on the run
When armed police are hostile
And legal suits who do not care
Walk a selfish crooked mile

The spoils go to the fittest
When the race is run
Be a man a winner
Get yourself a gun

30,000 gun deaths
In the US every year
People dying in the sun
Sandy Hook and Columbine
Martyrs to a madness
That threatens me and mine

People kill not guns
 It's a natural law
To cut this loss we need
Not fewer guns but more

Automatic weapons
Automatically kill
It is all so easy 
We hardly need a will. 
Might is power power might
And both are such a thrill

The Armalite is fascist bright
In even children's hands
Kills me for you and you for me
Equally at home or in other lands

How do we beat terrorists
Who hate our way of life
Who swap this world for paradise
Put all dissent to the knife 
Gods at war sanction easy lies
That our destiny must be endless strife

Shoot the thought bomb the idea 
Blow dissent away
Bigger better firepower
Is the only way

I wonder why we're hated
Around the world today
We sell arms to anyone
With the cash to pay 
We share the fetish of the gun
As the only winning way

America will be great again
God is on our side you see
Feared and free of all disdain
Might is key to our manifest destiny

How shall we recover 
Our right to lead our better soul
With right not might you must
Honour the truth of your historic role
Engender not fear but trust
Seek cooperation not control

At home face down your demons
Hard truth not the easy lie
Trust cannot come from bullet or gun
As the deaths of Lincoln and Kennedy amply testify



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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 22:15 on 15 March 2017  Report this post
Your last poem was quite hard work – which nonetheless paid off in the end. This is very clear, and makes its point very strongly. At the same time there’s a particular subtlety about it, in the way it uses irony and then drops irony at the end in favour of straight talking.

The way I see it, in the first three parts as far as ‘Not fewer guns but more’ the irony is light. American survivalists wouldn’t be aware of it at all; they would see these stanzas as a very sound argument for the right to carry a gun. On first reading I did think briefly that you were seriously putting the case for guns, but it soon became clear that you were being ironic. Actually it’s tempting to think, when we consider ‘bullies’ (a gang of boys in the street, say, threatening a passer-by), that having a gun would be the ideal answer. Don’t use it, just point it at them and tell them to make themselves scarce. The same could apply to situations in whichthe streets are full of danger’ (civil disturbance) or even to mass shootings such as Columbine. It’s tempting, but as the rest of the poem shows, it’s not the answer.

Reading the poem through and then reading again, it’s clear that the whole tone from the beginning is ironic. The irony becomes heavier with the very telling stanza
Automatic weapons
Automatically kill
It is all so easy that
We hardly need the will. 
Might is power power might
And both are such a thrill

(I’ve changed ‘easy is’ to ‘easy that’, and ‘a will’ to ‘the will’. I.e. it’s so easy to use automatics that we hardly need the willpower to make us do it.) The stronger irony is emphatically confirmed by the brilliant line
The Armalite is fascist bright
I think this strengthening irony runs more or less in parallel with the increasing seriousness of the threats – from street bullies to terrorists and warmongers. Then the tone changes fromI wonder why we're hated’ and the point that we are complicit in aggressive war (such as the attacks on Yemen by Saudi Arabia). From here to the end you are straightforwardly saying arms are not the answer; we must persevere with the more mature, civilised options in order to deal with the world’s problems.

As always I would be interested to know if the above is in line with your own thoughts on the poem, or if you see it differently in any way.


Zettel at 02:14 on 16 March 2017  Report this post
Thanks James

As ever you have me right.  This started as a satirical piece where the irony would be unstated; sort of clear to anyone except the people satirized.  But as I went on, it  didn't seem enough just to satirize: hence the final stanza.

The attraction to guns runs deep: very deep.  I wanted to start from the personal because there the arguments have a force. The physically weaker, bullied individual has so few options.  Watch a man, any man, including sadly me, when in the presence of guns. Something very disturbing takes place: aiming, 'fondling' etc etc. I can't even begin to make senseof it; but there is something distrubingly sexual about it. I don't only distrust guns, I distrust myself around guns. And that disturbs me. I can only say - that it has something to do with power: and power to right wrongs can be as motivating as power for its own sake.  Which raises the deep philosophical issue of whether you can 'resolve' moral problems with power.  The real 'resolution' to a moral conflict is when the person whose behaviour you want to influence sees the need to change for him/herself and willingly, knowingly, adapts his/her action.

By definition, such a person needs no threatening force to do right; he/sjhe is motivated  so to do not by fear or threat but because he'she sees this is the right thing to do.

Like Tom Lehrer (but infintely less talented) after Kissinger was awarded theNobel Peace prize I may try to stay away from political issues now,



Zettel at 11:28 on 16 March 2017  Report this post
.....because Trump is beyond parody.

Mayb the way to see Trump is simpl as a salesman/marketer _ say anything to create the right response in the 'punter' - the only absolute objective - to make a sale.  What happenson the way is forgotten as soon as the money changes hands.



James Graham at 22:08 on 16 March 2017  Report this post
It's a fascinating thing about irony, that it can be 'clear to anyone except the people satirized'. I imagine US gun lobby people reading your poem, agreeing with it to begin with, then furrowing the brows and finally tearing it up because it ends up talking about 'the fetish of the gun' and 'cooperation not control'.

'Power to right wrongs can be as motivating as power for its own sake.'  I hope you're right. Of course this is true, but looking around the world from Trump to Assad and Putin to Duterte (Philippines) it seems we are in a time of more than usual abuse of power. It's not the first such time; it's not long since the heyday of Nobel Peace laureate and warmonger Kissinger. (That wasn't the end of satire, though, and neither is Trump.) What you say about 'power to right wrongs' is still true.

After reading what you say about feeling disturbed in the presence of guns, I thought I would revisit an old poem of mine, in which I 'fondle' a gun. At about 10 years old I wasn't disturbed but excited; as an adult I've found myself unable to hold or even touch a gun. I feel repelled, but maybe it's not that simple; maybe, as you say, there's more going on. This is not a great poem, but the story's quite good. My father was a life-long pacifist.

Spud Gun

My mother finally surrendered,
bought me a spud-gun – for the sake of peace.

On the bus, I fondled it. It turned
into a Smith and Wesson. Home at last

I headed for the ammunition store
next to the kitchen, helped myself

to a spud, and went on a spree.
Took aim at a blackbird, missed.

A butterfly, and missed. So I took on
all the outlaws, desperados, bandits,

brigands, hoodlums, pirates,
who were in the garden at the time

and who thoughtfully stood still.
Happy and murderous, I did not see

my father at the gate. His face
was not cloudy. He held out

his hand, and raised his eyebrows,
and I laid down my arms.

‘How many have you killed?’
‘Oh, lots.They were all bad men.’

He hunkered down to my humble rank.
‘There are no bad men.

Men do bad things. See that
bad man just over there?’ – he pointed

to a floribunda rose in bloom
– ‘a little light that was in his head

went out. He’s dark inside. Did he
kill a man?’ I shrugged. ‘He couldn’t see

it was his brother. He must learn
to light his little lamp again.

Do you understand?’ I didn’t.
I nodded. ‘Time you had a bike’.

He buried my heater
somewhere in the woods.

May be there still, for all I care.

Cliff Hanger at 21:24 on 19 March 2017  Report this post
Hi Zettel

I've not long read 'Nuns with Guns' by Seth Kaufman. A very funny satirical story about american reality tv and gun culture. Where it fell down a bit was becoming a bit lecturey at times. I think you cleverly manage to avoid this by using the two separate voices and arguments. That also helps to highlight the complexity of a culture predicated on gun ownership (I lived in america for a while so I know that even liberal people who would never use a gun still own one and it's a fundamental icon of rights and freedom in the states that's very difficult for outsiders to fully comprehend).

An interesting and insightful piece. I'm a big fan of irony so ....


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