Men and guns and mass murder

January 4, 2013 

Sometimes, just to annoy folks at social gatherings, I'll authoritatively lob a gender-based generality in which I may or may not believe that may or may not be supported by data or research.

It's fun. Try some of these. Brunch is a girls' meal. Two women never will go out for barbecue. Females take 29 times more minutes than males to select a greeting card.

Many women are worse drivers than men because a higher percentage of women did not play sports as youths. Women will include spoons when they set a table even if there is zero chance spoons will be used or needed. Women are less appreciative than men are of high-brow, American cinematic tours de force such as ”The Jerk,” ”Animal House,” ”Caddyshack” and anything involving any of the Three Stooges.

I could go on, but I've been advised it's probably not advisable to alienate members of one of our major sexes. And remember, I may or may not believe any of these. They're just conversation starters (and sometimes inter-gender friendship enders).

All of this pablum is prologue to an undeniably correct, statistically supported, gender-based conclusion sent to me in one of my favorite reader emails in recent months. It's from Austinite Linda Foss, and I'm going to quote it at length for your perusal.

Foss, 66 (which we both agree makes her middle-aged), is an ”almost-retired trust administrator” originally from California and met her Texas husband at a campground in London. She claims to own no weapons ”other than my Chinese cleaver.”

I think you'll find some thought-providing notions in her email (which serves as further proof of market research showing that readers of my columns are the most intelligent, most interesting and best-looking people in the tri-county area).

Like many of us, Foss' mind is on guns these days. Her email begins with a reference to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.

”Mr. LaPierre is correct, guns don't kill people and even people don't kill people; men kill people and, inexplicable to us, tiny children along with spouses, brothers-in-law, their own mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, co-workers, people who are the wrong color, or someone wearing the wrong color or someone wearing the wrong headgear or not meeting the social or religious standards of the shooter.

”These shootings take place in intimate settings, family holidays, backyard barbecues and neighborhood get-togethers, wedding receptions, in bars and clubs, outside of stores, in workplaces, and in public places such as malls, movie theaters and again inexplicably, in schools and even churches.

”The situation is so appalling and appears so regularly … that I wonder why no one has suggested that a gun license be accompanied by estrogen injections, maybe monthly. When was the last time a woman went postal? How about a curfew on this dangerous cohort?

”If the shooters were all of a minority, there would be calls for some kind of medical exams or quarantining and much money would be spent on finding out just why ‘they' go awry. That this murdering cohort sees itself as dominant means that it does not see itself in appropriate isolation. There is talk of how ‘we' are a violent nation, ‘we' have violent entertainment, that ‘people' don't kill people.

”Men kill people with guns when feeling insufficiently respected, in desperation, depression, rage and anger. Putting more guns in the hands of more men is a terrifying prospect.”

Provocative, in a good way, right?

Contact Herman, a columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, at kherman@statesman.com.

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