After the St. Patrick’s Day massacres, my column called for moderation in the two extremes between gun bans and mass shootings. This week’s massacres in El Paso and Dayton, plus five more months of random killings, have been factors in changing my position: Gun advocates, to keep their guns, should demonstrate they can prevent mass shootings and ensure the public safety.
In placing the onus on gun owners, there is the risk of running afoul of our respected constitutional guarantee of the right to bear arms. No matter how problematic or specious those words may be literally, I’m ready to cross that wavy, faint line. (Loophole for you: The Constitution is silent on the right to bear ammo.) Why should gun advocates themselves internalize the social cost of gun ownership? Put it like this: If you want to own a gun, you have to figure out how much of that "freedom" you (collectively) can exercise without people killing little children and strangers, and their partners.
In 1965, Gene Carter used to tell his girls, “With every right comes responsibility.” If you want a cat, you have to feed it and make sure it has a warm place to be in cold weather. I’d like to invite gun advocates to solve the mass killings problem. Gun owners know the details about bump stocks and automatic weapons, registration, gun show loopholes, mental health screening, how to appeal protective order proscriptions, stolen guns, buying a gun through a friend, registering in someone else’s name, keeping guns for others, passing a background investigation, and all the nuances. In fact, around here, we give bragging rights to authoritarian absolutists who bypass the rules or "saw it off themselves." Who more than gun owners would be as ideally situated to fix the messy costs suffered by communities when someone goes berserk?
I have mass-shooting fatigue. I can speak of it glibly, yet I cry about it in my car when I’m driving down the highway and I hear on the radio that it has happened once again. I’m ready for it to be solved. I’m not big on guns myself. I don’t get a nostalgic feeling of patriotism when I palm a gun. I only think about physics and tragedy. (OK, sometimes I also think about the deer meat.) Those who cherish their guns should be the ones who get together and self-police this most tragic problem.
It can’t be discounted that racist supremacy adherents someplace elsewhere have emerged as a new spooky companion-phenomenon to the armed citizenry fallout. People who learn their roots have their purist tendencies humbled. How many Nazi Aryans realized their eighth-century ancestors were Muslims? Many Keetoowahs and Cherokees have Scots in the closet. Racism is factually ridiculous. In eight generations (circa 1650), of 1,024 ancestors, it is statistically far more likely that one has ancestors who were inbred than ancestors who were purebred.
Here in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which was formerly repletely the Cherokee Nation, white supremacy would have had a tough time getting a foothold because we’re a mixed-race population, hosted by an indigenous brown history. We are uniquely accustomed to a complex patchwork of overlain jurisdictions among local, state, federal, university, tribal, and other tribal laws and lands. That’s enough to confuse everyone. You’d have to live here a lifetime to know who is Cherokee, white, Mexican, Keetoowah, whatever.
So gun owners, own the fact that radical domestic terrorists in your midst are threatening your right to bear ammo, and pick your side. If you hope to enjoy venison, distinguish yourselves by implementing some genuine solutions.
Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.