Gun Lore in the United States of Amnesia

“I’ll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginia,
I’ll even ‘hari-kari’ if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!”
 Alan Alda

“Guns, she was reminded then, were not for girls. They were for boys. They were invented by boys.
They were invented by boys who had never gotten over their disappointment that accompanying
their own orgasm there wasn’t a big boom sound.”
Lorrie Moore, Like Life

“You don’t spread democracy with a barrel of a gun.”
 Helen Thomas

 “Why do these dumb fucks keep guns around the house? They make the world as ruinous as they imagine it is.”
Esmé Raji Codell, Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year

“Every day in America is a day with a shooting.”
Bill Maher


Gun Lore in the United States of Amnesia

Thirty people a day are shot dead in the US
With guns that are legally owned –
Bought from mercenary dealers who sell them
To the macho and the mentally unsound –










Lonely, sex starved dementos who carry a grudge
Are programmed to think they’ll be cured
If they buy loads of bullets that rattle and bang
And leave patches of blood on the ground.









The Bushmaster rifle that Adam Lanza used
To kill 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut
Was promoted in magazines with the seedy slogan,
“Consider your man card re-issued.”

 “Guns are neat little things, aren’t they?” said John W. Hinckley, Jr.
“They can kill extraordinary people with very little effort.”
He’d tried to kill President Reagan to impress the actress Jodie Foster
And sadly believed that owning a gun proved him clever.








The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported
11,000 gun murders in the U.S. in 2011.
The U.S. clings to its disease as if to a warm comfort blanket
Believing God, Guns and Guts lead to heaven.







In their desperation the gun lobby’s enthusiasts
Fabricate quotes from Adolf Hitler
To support a retarded belief that all self-control
Is an evil plot by tyrannical killers.










But enfeebled fantasies about the rise of dead dictators
Sneakily planning to confiscate their guns
Is misplaced since it’s their own depraved bloodlust
That the world should be learning to shun.










A gun-free world would do far more for the ‘life and liberty’
Which the gun lobby claims it so earnestly defends
For the truth is that these ideals have to take a back seat
To gun-nut hard-ons and games of Let’s Pretend –








Games that are indulged by a cynical arms business:
‘Guns will make you more soldier-like’
‘Guns will make you more powerful and sexually vigorous’
Gun violence is normalized in the US’s Fourth Reich.











But, “When you carry a gun,” says the entertainer Bill Cosby
Whose only son, Ennis, was shot while changing a tire,
“When you carry a gun you mean to harm, to kill somebody,”
And anyone who says anything different is a liar. 










The gun lobby’s prideful talk about The Second Amendment
Fails to admit that it’s peddling a fiction:
For the so-called ‘right to arms’ only applied when the US was once a colony
Not when it’s colonizing others and when its guns are an addiction. 




















In any case the Constitution only speaks of granting such a right 
To what it refers to as a  “well-regulated militia”.
It didn’t consider granting unrestricted gun ownership to those
Who freely countenance endless school massacres.









The Constitution’s draftsmen are also unlikely to have approved
Of Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher, a gun nut who delights
In writing to a man whose son has been shot in Santa Barbara to tell him,
“Your dead child doesn’t trump my Constitutional rights.”












But with the US having a quarter of a billion guns, and with movie stars
Such as Brad Pitt leading his fan club astray
By his saying, “America is a country founded on guns”
And by his insisting, “It’s in our DNA” –









It’s unlikely that anyone has the political will
To turn the mad juggernaut around
And so America lurches from mass killing to mass killing
Like a suicidally zombified clown.











The phrase ‘Gun Boner’ means the physiological excitement
Accompanying a handgun’s firing or its acquisition.
It’s passed into the language and it’s now a psychological cliché
To suggest guns make up for erectile dysfunction. 

But since September 11, 2001
280,000 people
Have been killed by guns in the United States
(Though Viagra has been widely available).







With slogans such as, “Bolt actions speak louder than words.”
The National Rifle Association brainwashes members
Into thinking that Americans need more and more guns
While the US arms industry feeds it back-handers.







The Association is legally classed as a charitable foundation
And its fake cowboys receive forty million a year
From gun makers selling twelve billion dollars’ worth of toys
Whose sole production is the shedding of blood and tears.

The NRA has a string of financial contributors
Such as Beretta and Springfield Armoury;
Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, LLC – all contribute
To the murder manufacturers’ favourite charity. [1]






Faith, hope and charity are the three classic virtues
And the greatest of them is said to be charity
But now a charitable foundation forces love to serve hate
In a PR spin of breath-taking venality.

The NRA’s lobbyists habitually keep Congress in their sights
To ensure that their pet politicians are well disposed
And to that end they distribute largesse, their charitable bribes,
But to the mothers of gun victims they’re despised.


The NRA and their prosperous allies in the firearms industries
And the ‘Gun Owners of America’ with their gun erections
Have poured $81 million worth of sweeteners into the House
And the Senate since the year 2000’s elections. [2]













When the gun industry’s sales reach $4.3 billion in 2011
US murders are par for the course so sales can thrive.
‘Some people are getting killed because they’re in the way?’,
‘What’s it matter,” the gun lobby shrugs, ‘if we’re alive.’

But a map of the United States recording the annual toll
Is flecked with thousands of blood-stained death-dots:
Each one marks an empty bed; a vacant seat at a dinner table
Whose former occupants fill morgues thanks to gun-shots.









At the end of his life, James Cagney, a US tough guy
Renounced his former Hollywood self,
“I’m sick of guns and beating up women. Movies,” he added,
“Should be entertaining, not bloodbaths.”  

















Likewise Mikhail Kalashnikov said ‘The pain in my soul
Is unbearable’, the inventor of the AK-47
Was tormenting himself with an “unsolvable question” –
Had he forfeited his place in heaven?







“If my assault rifle took people’s lives
 That means that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov,
 Am responsible for people’s deaths,” and his last photoes
 Betrayed a guilty misery before he shuffled off.  








“I would prefer to have invented a machine,” he said,
“That people could use and that would help farmers
With their work – for example a lawnmower.” In other words
He thought swords should be turned into ploughshares.

Since more Americans have died from their own gun violence
Than have died in all of America’s wars, [3]
Their auto-genocide makes a case for humanitarian intervention
In order to establish the rule of law.











It’s tempting to think of Gandhi’s ghost rampaging through Texas
And of his rubbishing every gun show in town;
It’s tempting to imagine him shaming weapons-toting meatheads
Who stubbornly hasten their country’s moral melt-down.








For while America is in a permanent state of war
It’s inevitable that it makes war upon itself.
With no morality left it has ennobled self-slaughter,
Wandering wounded towards history’s shelf.















The US persists in misreading its tired Constitution
To justify its annual domestic sacrifice
Of thousands of bodies riddled with mad men’s bullets –
Of innocent lives ending in a trice.

People remember the assassinations of the Kennedys
And of Martin Luther King,
Yet a million more have since died by the same method,
As the gun lobby smirks and the bullets sing.







Just to protect a few consumer items in their homesteads
From those whom they’ve demonized as weirdos,
Bloated gun-owners bellow, “Break in! Make my day!”
Hoping their triggers will turn them into heroes. 











Trapped in bullying relationships with armed misogynists,
Fleeing women fall victim to jealous ‘gun control’
When their partners prevent them leaving, save in a body-bag,
Having shot them and taken them over, life and soul.  







Robert Benjamin Smith, aged 18, in Mesa, Arizona
Killed four women and a three-year-old girl:
He targeted women at the Rose-Mar College of Beauty
Saying that he did it to be famous and for the thrill.

Later Damian Du’Chaunt Paige, well aware of this slaughter
But instead of its triggering off alarms,
Founded Mesa’s Xenolith Tactical Gunsmithing, joking, “What’s something
That would sell itself without me saying a word? Firearms!”










Taking a sample month – June 2014 – to study
The behaviour of the “good guys with guns”:
Someone shoots someone in a Florida movie house
As they’ve annoyed them by flicking popcorn;

In Colorado a teenager coming in late at night 
Is shot by her stepfather suspecting a burglar;
Someone in Michigan is seeking help after their car
Broke down, and are shot after knocking on a door;

In Virginia two young partygoers stumble into the wrong house
On returning home a little the worse for wear –
They’re both killed by someone deciding to shoot first
And to ask questions afterwards without a care.

US gun culture is ‘corrupting the world,’ Australia ex-deputy PM says after Okla. slaying









While demonizing Saddam Hussein for “attacking his own people”
The US has been doing exactly the same:
Its gun culture allows attacks to occur on an industrial basis
With every excuse being increasingly lame.  

Yet since genocide is an offence in international law
Why shouldn’t the US’s gun depravity
Warrant a warning from the Security Council with the news
That an international force can trump US sovereignty?









Its guns are to bypass social empathy and secure complacency;
They exist to assert that all property is private –
Property’s not to be shared save with the gun owner’s peers;
The gun is to separate rich from poor with violence.

It’s always used more to enforce tyranny than to escape it:
It was used to slaughter the Native Americans;
To control slaves in plantations, and to help robber barons
To break strikers’ backs in the stockyards and coal-mines.

It’s been used against those demonstrating against war,
Against nationalism’s great crime of hate:
Four students protesting the Vietnam war’s expansion
Were shot dead in Ohio’s Kent State. 














Christopher Lane, an Australian baseball player scholarship who was shot and killed Friday.

The gun’s use has now atrophied into a cure for boredom:
Christopher Lane, an Australian baseball player,
Visiting Oklahoma was shot in the back by three men who were, “Looking for something to do” in the words of his slayers.

Following one more random killing, they’d posted on Facebook,
“Bang. Two drops in two hours.” – their chilling boast.
Australia’s former deputy PM, Tim Fischer, urged a US boycott,
Angrily commenting, “US gun culture is corrupting the world.”








The gun’s a totalitarian tyrant controlling America –
Even proud of seeing guns in babies’ hands
Who then grow up to use them on others’ children
In serial mass killings throughout the land.

Someone opened fire on a packed Chicago bus, wounding four
And killing Blair Holt, aged sixteen.
Blair had leant forward to take the bullet to protect a classmate.
The gunman then sprayed the bus and fled the scene.





Blair Holt

Blair’s mother said, “I don’t think it’s possible to keep your child safe
In the city of Chicago because someone else’s child
Is going to take your child’s life.” She campaigned to banish
The automatic weapon that killed her son and she was reviled.










Tragically America once had a claim to be unique
Long ago when it was founded upon an idea
But the best ideas enter the brain with a light heart –
Unleaded, without swagger and without fear.












It’s said that the most powerful weapon on earth
Is the human soul on fire
But when dampened by the gun culture’s negativity
It’s unlikely to rise any higher.







“They have the guns, we have the poets.”
Says the anarchist Howard Zinn,
The author of The People’s History of America,
Then he adds, “Therefore, we will win.”

















‘Guns don’t kill people’, the gun extremists insist
‘It’s not the guns’ fault people are dead.’
Yet they overlook the fact that it’s people who buy guns
To shoot other people in the head.


And the fanatic who preaches God, Guns and Glory
Is ignoring Christ’s poetic Sermon on the Mount
Where it was the peacemakers who were counted as blessed
And it was aggressive gun nuts who didn’t count.









There’s a corporate-fascist mind-set
That needs to sell guns at all costs
Yet it can be disempowered by love’s oxygen
Just as cold steel gives way to rust.


Heathcote Williams


[1] According to a report in The Huffington Post, since 2005, the NRA has potentially hauled in nearly $40 million from the $12-billion-a-year gun industry.

[2] This is according to federal disclosures and a Center for Responsive Politics analysis done for the Center for Public Integrity.

[3] Since 1968, “more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country’s history.”
Mark Shields,Friday, December 21st, 2012, PBS NewsHour





By Heathcote Williams

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