Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Of Shoes, Shampoos, and Guns

We got to the airport ninety minutes before the flight, and we were worried that we wouldn't make it.

Because once, a few years ago, somebody tried to smuggle a bomb in their shoes. The bomb was a dud, but that didn't matter. Because one guy one time tried to blow us up with his Hush Puppies, we now had to take off our shoes and belts.

And, because there was a group of people in London who were trying to conceive of a way to smuggle a bomb onto planes using liquids hidden in bottles (which, most people with any knowledge of this believe, would have at worst caused the person mixing the chemicals to suffer some serious burns), we now can only carry small plastic bottles onto the plane, and they have to be in ziploc bags.

My son's bag had to be pulled aside and checked because his mom had given him a small bottle of a special shampoo for his hair. Even though the bottle was the right size (less than 1.5 ounces), it was not in a plastic bag. It was confiscated.

As we all know, the baggie is all that stands between us and safety. You're either with the SC Johnson Company, or your with the terrorists.

Perhaps, sometime, somewhere, someone killed someone else by ramming a bottle of shampoo down his or her throat, hitting it with a shoe to force it deeper and deeper. So I can't say for certain that no one has ever been killed by shoes or shampoo, but I'm betting the number of deaths from these particular items is hovering right around zero. I'm betting you could add in a plethora of hand lotions, colognes, beverages and other confiscatable liquids to the mix and it still wouldn't get the death toll up to double digits. That doesn't matter, though. The reaction from the government through the Department of Homeland Security was quick and decisive in these instances: extra precautions and outright bans. Meaning sweating that we'll miss the flight because the line through security was hundreds of people long. At 4:50 am on a Wednesday.

Yesterday, a student walks onto a campus in Virginia, and opens fire. Within minutes, more than 30 people are dead, a similar number wounded, some gravely. The kid might still be firing now if he hadn't saved a bullet for himself.

This is not the first time this year that someone had been killed--killed, not potentially killed--by a gun in this country.

Not the first time this year? Hell, it probably wasn't the first time that hour. I know, lots of other things can kill you--knives, cars, explosives, even, yes, a shampoo bottle hammered down your throat by a shoe--but of all those things, only one of them was built with the exclusive purpose of doing what it did; namely, kill, and kill quickly.

The reaction from Washington?

"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday.

Let's recap: My 11-year-old son can't walk onto a plane with an ounce and a half of shampoo in his backpack, but some basket case can legally buy a gun that can shoot 25 rounds in ten seconds, and walk onto campus (or into the Post Office, or into a McDonalds, or into your daughter's daycare center) and start pulling the trigger.

There will be a reaction, to be sure. I'm sure that any number of security agencies are right now contacting any number of colleges, telling them that, for a fee, they will man the doorways to the classrooms and cafeterias of our nations colleges, ensuring a greater sense of security due to the presence of more guns and the absence of a few pesky rights.

Because, God knows, all of our rights should be thrown away to increase our security.

Exept, of course, for the right to bear arms.



Blogger terry said...

as sass would say... WORD.

perhaps if all those kids on campus were armed with plastic bags...

no, wait. that can't be right. this CAN'T be right.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

I totally agree.

I know I'm biased because I'm Canadian and I'm Mennonite and therefore not a big gun fan.

None of us are untouchable though- there have been horrible incidents in this country too and don't even get me started on what happened in Pennsylvania.

I don't understand how any asshole can buy a gun. I don't - I cannot - believe that the answer is for everybody to arm themselves and be on constant defense. We've got to stop killing each other!

4:05 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Terry--Word indeed. Many of them.

Why not invite your friend sass over and let her (him?) word for him/herself?

heidi: I've heard that argument, too. It holds just about as much water as the 'It's ok to torture because it's the only way to get the information on the bombs that are about to blow us up just like on 24" argument.

Two thoughts on that:

1) Perhaps, maybe, once in a great while, it might stop someone like this. But, let's continue the argument: So someone draws down and shoots the guy with the gun with his own gun--what about the other 30 or 40 people in the area who are also holding? What if they don't see that the first guy has a gun, so they pull their piece and blow the second guy away? And then another guy sees that, and thinks: 'oh, the first shooter has an accomplice,' and shoots him, and so on, and so on.

And that's assuming they're all expert shots. What happens if they miss?

So in this scenario, one guy doesn't kill 30 people--30 people kill each other, or more.

2) Right now, drunken college kids are doing enough accidental damage with cars. Now you want to give them guns? They already think they're invincible. It's part of being 20. You think arming many of these kids is a good idea? How many gunfights would we see in the first week over such important matters as who stole whose myspace idea?


6:00 PM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

yeah. Yes. And yup.

You know what? Call me idealistic but I also think there should be some better screening for mental health problems. I have no idea how to catch it or even how to treat it, even though I've been dealing with my own crap for a couple of years. I just don't think a mentally stable person gets the idea that this is a good idea. I think something like that festers and boils for some amount of time before the horrific snap happens.

Biggest problem: some of us hide our problems so well that even our own friends and families can't tell.

You know, I am so heartbroken and so sickened by it all, I don't even want to talk about it because I feel like it adds to the sensationalism. I just want it to stop.

7:39 PM  
Blogger cadbury_vw said...

there was an incident about 10 years back in which some kids sprayed other kids with supersoakers

the soaked kids went and got guns and shot and killed the two who had soaked them.

the reaction of the local city council: ban supersoakers

2:19 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Someone actually suggested on the national news that the tragedy was a result of VT's ban on students carrying weapons. I can't remember who it was but they said that if more students had been armed, the gunman may have been stopped sooner. Any asshole can buy a gun because our gun control laws are outrageous, not that anyone calls for reform when something like this happens. On the other side, though, I live a mile away from a stste prison and in the event of a massinve power failure and the loss of their generators, I wouldn't necessaily want to be in my house without some sort of weapon. I know how to shoot, I will teach my son when he is at an appropriate age, and my husband wants to learn. It's not a bad skill to have, especially when we are facing such an uncertain future.

7:05 AM  
Blogger terry said...

i'm sure sass - as in sassinak - will be here, wording for herself any day now!

4:56 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

this whole thing with VT petrifies me. i thought i was safe teaching at a U. part of the reason why i went into the U system was so i wouldn't have to frisk my students (besides the fact that I could take more history as a history major than the measly little 4 classes i was allowed to take as an education major)

now i find out that i'm naively thinking that colleges are safe. that college administrations take care of the student body and expell trouble makers when they have the chance. that we can be safe if something happens.

only 1 building on our campus has lockdown capability. the rest of the rooms are old buildings and some don't even have doors. most of our rooms don't even have powerpoint capability and when the faculty senate asked what the president's office was going to do about increased security and plans of actions in case something like this might happen on our campus, they issued a statement saying they would do what they could within the perameters of the budgetary allowance provided by the state...which is paltry at best. the state had no comment when our president asked them for extra funding for security modernization measures.

as for gun control, you'll never get that in the state of georgia. they think gun control here is holding the weapon steady while you shoot.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Miss 1999 said...

I'm in awe that they confiscated your son's shampoo because it wasn't in a baggie, but it's just fine in one-- what the hell sense does that make? Actually, I don't want to know...

1:31 AM  
Blogger SFChick74 said...

The whole baggie thing is completely dumb. In CA, they have baggies for you at the security checkpoint if you forget yours.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I couldn't agree more, the US passion for bearing arms still bemuses us Europeans who have seen more war and death than any American has on their own shores.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Nölff said...

It's not the shampoo that kills, it's the person using it.

9:43 PM  

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