Let me die…

Last week I was walking through the mall (bad enough) shopping for new shoes for my son when we passed a guy wearing a hoodie with a line of text over [where] the pocket [would be] that read, “If I only had a gun.” Having moved a year ago from The People’s Republik of Cambridge out to the ‘burbs, I’ve become used to seeing Gadsden flags in truck windows and assorted Tea Party slogans bandied about on bumper stickers and t-shirts. But this one made me look twice. I glanced over my shoulder at the dude as he passed and saw the back of his hoodie had a big block of text that I didn’t have a chance to read, but began with a big, bold “LORD.” So I looked it up online when I got home. I’ll tell you in a minute what I found. But first, a preamble.

I don’t give a shit about your guns or how much you like them. I don’t own one, but I do love to shoot them. I love the elegant design of many of them and the appreciate the science and simplicity of their function (although their purpose is often troubling to me). I don’t see the reason to carry one around everywhere, not because I disrespect gun rights, but because I just don’t see the need. I am fortunate enough to live in a safe place surrounded most of the time by pretty nice people. I suspect most of us actually do. Even when I lived in a neighborhood experiencing what the local papers called a drug gang “blood war” I never thought I needed to carry a gun for my protection. They weren’t shooting at me.

Now, I’ll tell you why this guy’s shirt troubled me. On the back was this “prayer”:

Lord, make me fast and accurate let my aim be true and my hand faster than those who would seek to destroy me. Grant me victory over my foes, and those that wish to do harm to me and mine. Let NOT my last thought be, if I only had a gun, and Lord if today is truly the day that you call me home, let me die in a pile of empty brass.

That makes me pretty sad. I know I’m going to die. You’re going to die. I even have a shirt that reads, THIS BODY WILL BE A CORPSE. Sometimes it gets me dirty looks, sometimes it inspires people to ask me questions (the most common being, When? To which I answer, hopefully not for a while). What bothers me about the hoodie wasn’t that it expressed an implied support for the Second Amendment (see above, I think range shooting is fun, and I often think firearms are beautiful machines), but that it’s a very bleak fantasy for the end of a life. Why would you pray for that?

When I think about how I want to die, it is never “in a pile of empty brass,” like that’s somehow a measure of a good death. The only way I want to die is surrounded by my friends and loved ones. I’d never pray to die in violence (I don’t pray, but that’s another matter). If I were to ask for a specific end, every single time it would be to die holding the hand of someone I loved, not a weapon. Again, this is coming from a guy who respects both the Japanese and Viking notions of honor and martial death. But I am not a samurai or a Viking. I’m a twenty-first century American who moved to the suburbs to get away from traffic congestion and apartment living. Here’s what I’d ask for.

Lord (bear with me, we’re role playing here), make me fast to smile and let my aim be to share fond stories with friends and loved ones. Grant me a life without foes far from those who would wish to do anyone harm. Let NOT my last thought be, I am so glad I had this gun. And Lord, it today is truly the day you call me home, let me die holding hands.

I suspect someone reading this thinks I’m a coward or a fucking hippie or something along those lines. Fine. Think whatever you want about me (I’ve already lost what I thought were good friends over my tepid feelings about personal firearms). This isn’t an invitation to a debate or a call out. It’s just what this shirt made me think of. I much prefer death fantasies where everyone can come away smiling.

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~ by poǝןɔɐɯ uǝʞɔɐɹq on 30/03/2015.

One Response to “Let me die…”

  1. Bravo.

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