There are lines of poetry, moments of song, and even bits of comedy that have enough insight and incisiveness that you find yourself recalling them again and again. This morning, I found myself recalling one of my favorite sketches from Mitchell and Webb. In it, two SS officers on the Russian front in WWII slowly have it dawn on them that, perhaps, they are the “baddies.” What makes this bit so memorable long after you’ve had your laughs is that it cuts to a truth of human nature. We all think we’re the good guys, at least until something drives home the point that we’re not.
I found myself thinking of Mitchell and Webb’s Nazis after reading about Veronica Rutledge. Those of you outside of the U.S. may not have heard the story. On Tuesday, December 30, a twenty-nine year old woman took her four children with her to a large discount store. She brought with her a loaded gun that she put into a purse her husband had given her for Christmas. It was a purse with a zippered pocket designed to hold a gun. Typically, these pockets are located on the exterior of the purse. According the website It’s in the Bag, which specializes in purses designed for carrying a gun, one of the characteristics of a well designed bag is that the gun is accessible. The ease of accessibility became evident when Veronica Rutledge left her two-year old in the cart with her loaded gun in its easily accessible zippered compartment. The child took out the gun and shot his mother, killing her.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, “It’s against the law in Idaho to carry a loaded concealed gun.” Veronica Rutledge was breaking the law.
The Monitor also says:
Rutledge’s background also highlights an emerging reality in US culture, where stereotypes of the kinds of people who own and carry guns are being tested as more and more women carry concealed, often to guard against crime.
Unfortunately, the Monitor doesn’t specify what those stereotypes are. Also, it’s worth noting that Veronica Rutledge wasn’t carrying the gun to “guard against crime.” However, Sheri Sandow, a friend of Rutledge, told The Washington Post, “In Idaho, we don’t have to worry about a lot of crime and things like that.” According to her father-in-law, “They carried one every day of their lives, and they shot extensively.” “They loved it. Odd as it may sound, we are gun people.”
Who are these “gun people?”
The gun manufacturers like to invoke the second amendment of the United States Constitution and pretend that this is all traditional American behavior, but that is nothing more than Red, White and Blue washing. Again, according to the Monitor:
Nationally, the number of concealed-carry permits have gone from a few hundred thousand 15 years ago to more than 10 million today. The trend in state legislatures, with several notable exceptions, such as Washington State, has been to liberalize gun laws.
Walking around with a concealed weapon is not a traditional American behavior.
On a comment thread on the Daily Banter, Norbrook wrote:
I’ve said this before, but I grew up around guns as well. I also still live in that area, and it’s more uncommon to not own a gun than it is to have one. Many of us hunt, and we enjoy shooting. That said, at no time would any of the people in my parent’s generation (or before them) and in the current ones thought it was necessary to walk around with guns all the time. If you’d told any of my parents generation that they should be able to walk around with their guns all the time, take them to church, shopping, to the bar, or just walking around town, they’d have thought you were insane.
So, Veronica Rutledge was breaking the law by carrying a loaded weapon in her purse. Perhaps it’s time for the “gun people” to develop some self-awareness and ask themselves, “Are we the baddies?”