by Samuel James
by Samuel James

Gun Talk

As a black man in America, it scares me that I am born into the group most likely to be murdered with a gun. Naturally, I want to seek out ways to stop gun violence. I usually begin by having conversations, and there’s the rub: I’m only interested in having reasonable conversations. This means I can’t talk to…


1. People who bring up the Constitution

If you don’t think a document that’s over 200 years old should change with the times, not only do you not understand how government works, but we’re not going to have time to talk about guns because you’ll be spending all that time learning about slavery.


2. People who bring up “criminals”

Every time I talk to a certain type of person about guns, he says something like, “Well, a criminal doesn’t care about gun laws.” Hey. If they were to pass a law tomorrow that makes guns illegal, all gun owners would be criminals and this argument would change very quickly.


3. People who bring up “good guys with guns”

Imagine you’re a cop. There’s a mass shooting in progress. You enter to see a room full of people all randomly shooting at each other. All of their t-shirts read: “good guy with a gun.”


4. People who want no guns for anyone ever, under any circumstance

This is where things get tricky. Guns actually are a necessity in some places, and Maine happens to be one of them. In many parts of Maine people still hunt to eat. Also, there are a lot of places in Maine where you could step outside one morning and be halfway to your car before you notice there’s a bear in your driveway. You could be on a hike and accidentally step between a moose and her calf. There are all kinds of ways a gun can save your life in Maine, but…


5. People who think guns save more lives than they take

If you seek them out, you can find statistics that indicate Americans justifiably use guns in self-defense about 2.5 million times a year, or once every 13 seconds. Personally, I can tell you that I have travelled all over this country for almost a decade, and the United States is not that dangerous a place. Also, those statistics were debunked years ago. Please let information inform your opinion, rather than the other way around.


6. People who think they’re going to use a gun to defend themselves against the government

Tanks were invented 100 years ago. That’s how long it’s been since you’ve been able to use a gun to defend yourself against the government.


7. People who doubt the relationship between guns and murder

I can’t begin to tell you the number of arguments I’ve had in which someone claims that a knife is just as deadly as a gun. It’s not. If it were, killers would be satisfied with a knife.


8. People who doubt the relationship between guns and suicide

This is a big one. Gun deaths are mostly suicides — more than 60 percent. It’s all about “mental health” when gun deaths are brought up, but this isn’t the aspect of mental health that those people want to talk about.

Whenever barriers are erected at suicide hotspots, not only do the number of suicides decrease at those locations, but they also decrease over the entire area. This likely means that, since suicide is generally an impulsive act, if people are given the chance to consider a better possibility, they will. Reaching for a gun is often an impulsive act.


9. People who want to talk about mental health instead of guns

People are the same kind of crazy all over the world, but the rest of the world doesn’t have the high number of gun deaths the U.S. has. For further discussion of mental health, please see number 8.


10. Paul LePage

At a recent town hall meeting, our governor said, “Every time there’s a big gun battle about one of these incidents, I go buy a gun. I have a big safe of them. I have five that I bought and I haven’t shot them.”

The “incidents” he’s referring to are mass shootings. Every time the country addresses the fact that another group of innocent people was murdered by a madman, Paul LePage sees that as an opportunity to celebrate the murder weapon and brag about being wasteful. Huh.


So, if you don’t fall into any of these categories, let’s have a reasonable conversation about guns.


Samuel James is an internationally renowned bluesman and storyteller, as well as a locally known filmmaker. He can be reached at racismsportland@gmail.com.