Saunders: There’s no room for nuance when discussing guns

bsaunders@newsobserver.comAugust 26, 2013 

Really, fellas. Your love and concern for me is touching, but this isn’t helping.

Try a little tenderness, why don’t you? Don’t call me fat boy.

In a column yesterday about the woman who shot herself in the hand inside a Wake Forest Staples store and a big guy I saw walking to his car with a gun in his hand, I referenced my weight.

Big mistake. Not only was I an anti-government pinko who wants to help “O’bummer” confiscate everyone’s hunting rifle, but I was a liberal tub o’ lard – one of the cuter, more innocuous epithets hurled at me.

Weight was mentioned by me only to describe the gun-carrying man I saw leaving the Brier Creek Shopping Center movie theater around 11 p.m. Saturday. He was bigger than I and was not likely to be anyone’s first choice for a victim of a random assault.

What was funny – not in a “hah hah” way but in a “what the heck is going on?” way – is that seemingly more readers were upset at me for being fat (I prefer big-boned) than were angry at the woman for almost shooting her baby or the man for walking around holding a gun. Oh yeah: they were also quite perturbed that I was attacking their Second Amendment right to own a gun. (I did no such thing, never have, never will.)

When discussing guns in America, there are no gray areas, and no nuance is allowed. Therefore, it is impossible to criticize a woman for letting her 2-year-old child reach into a pocketbook containing an unsecured loaded gun without also implicitly criticizing everyone’s right to own a gun. By the same cockeyed logic, you cannot recoil in terror at the sight of a guy striding through a parking lot holding a gun without being a – get this – “gun-hater.”

Now, being a gun-hater isn’t the worst thing one could be, and I told one reader I’d shed nary a tear if every gun on earth disappeared. As long as they’re legal and handled responsibly, though, people have the right to own and carry them.

Soon after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre last year, Keith Ratliff, a Georgia gun maker and enthusiast with a popular website, tweeted, “I went to the movies with my pistol in my pocket ... the whole time I was praying that somebody would try to pull a ‘Batman’ ” so he, Ratliff, could be a hero and take him out.

I’m not saying the gun guy I saw was disappointed that the biggest crime inside the Brier Creek theater was the $8 popcorn, but that guy in Georgia obviously was.

Those readers who weren’t attacking me for being a gun-hater were assailing me for being fat. A reader named Mike wrote, “Barry, what you need to come to grips with is this: Not everybody is a 6’2” morbidly obese, mean-looking bald tough guy like yourself.”

Why, thank you, Mike. I didn’t think you noticed.

Another reader, John, wrote, “Saunders, I read this morning’s column. I don’t know why? Being an optimist, I guess I expected to read something useful or amusing. Too much to expect from you. YOU are the biggest hippocrite at the N&O plus, possibly, the biggest HIPPO!!!”

Burrrrp. John, one assumes, defends his guns the way I defend a six-egg ham omelet.

Still, stung to the quick by the insults, I grabbed a paper towel and wiped a lone tear from my eye. Unfortunately for me, I used the same paper towel with which I was holding a giant jelly doughnut, and I ended up with an eyeful of red goo and powdered sugar. Yikes.

Saunders: or 919-836-2811

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