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Dustpans Aren’t the Problem

July 30, 2012

When I was a kid, a friend of mine started roughhousing with one of my brothers. The friend grabbed a shirt from my brother’s bed and swung it at him. One of the snaps (yeah, this was when dress shirts still had metal snaps on them) caught my brother just below the eye, which left an ugly little welt, but Todd was ultimately fine.

Mom was not happy. She called my buddy into our kitchen and gently cupped one hand over one of his eyes.

"Now, look around," she said. "You can’t see nearly as much as you can when I’m not covering this eye, right?"

He mumbled an embarrassed "Yes’m," but the point was made. He and my brother shook hands, made up, and played together just fine after that.

I think that the lesson was effective because Mom focused on the action, not the object. Carelessly swinging something at another person’s face or head can have ugly consequences—even if you don’t think about the possibility when you pick up that object.

One of my mom’s friends, years ago, came home from work and threw away his wife’s dustpan. He said, "You aren’t replacing that. There will never be a dustpan in this house again."

A coworker’s son had accidentally poked out one of his brother’s eyes with a dustpan. The victim would spend the rest of his life with either an eye patch or glass eye because his real eye could not be saved. My mom’s friend was terrified of the exact-same, very-rare thing happening to one of his kids, so he did away with that specific object.

He didn’t sit his kids down and explain to them that their roughhousing can have lifelong consequences. He just chucked the dustpan and figured that his kids were safe because that evil object with its sharp corners was out of the house.

The object does not matter; how a person uses it does. Gun banners obsess over the firearms, not how people use them. They’re bent on taking away everybody’s objects because a few people are douchebags who would have found other ways to be assholes if they couldn’t get firearms for whatever reason. Even if we lived in a world where guns never existed and could not be dreamed up by anybody, much less manufactured, assholes would still do rotten things.

I suggest focusing on the actions, regardless of which tools people use to carry out their plans, and stopping or punishing the real culprits: the living beings making the decisions.

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From → Firearms

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