The water in the marina looks like a sheet of corrugated tin. Pathway and dock lights reflect off its ripples as I look down from my darkened bedroom. I want to sleep, but part of me is on the lookout for masked gunmen. My imagination culls my rollodex for sociopaths. How is it that a person can buy 6,000 rounds of ammo in two weeks and no alarm bells sound? I had to answer a hundred questions to get a home loan. I had to explain and prove how I'd gotten the money for the down payment. I just joined the local yacht club and was required to list four references complete with their addresses, and I had to be sponsored by two current members. I don't even own a boat. How much harm can I cause poolside or in the bar or dining room? Plenty, I suppose if I had an arsenal of guns and a free run at all the ammo I could want. And those things seem much easier to acquire that a mortgage or a membership card.
"You have the right person," the mother of the shooter said. How is it that a parent can so quickly recognize a child as a mass murderer, but not have gotten the intervention required to keep her child from hurting so many people? We ask these questions over and over again because we do nothing in our land of the free to stop these tragedies from unfolding.
We are afraid of planes and airports. Our high schools are fortresses patrolled by armed guards. Now we've lost the sweet escape of the movies.
It's quiet here in Margaritaville. I'm not awakened by sirens, police helicopters, or gunshots. The throaty call of herons has been the only midnight disturbance. I raised my kids in the middle of L.A. for the first half of their childhoods. When I went out to walk C in her stroller her first New Year's morning, the sidewalk was littered with celebratory bullet casings. When she was just a few weeks old, I carried her across a puddle of dried blood to a theatre company meeting. M's friend, a boy we'd known since kindergarten, was shot and killed at a party when he was 17. At one point in the late 70s, most of my close friends had all been mugged at gunpoint. These are the things I know about guns. I don't know anyone personally who has warded off an attack with a gun. No one fired back in that dark theater. A well-meaning upstanding citizen with a gun would probably have only added to the carnage.
I first saw a world-wide comparison of deaths by firearms right after I move to L.A. I clipped it out and stuck it on my refrigerator. It might have still been stuck there the day the bank robber waved his gun at me while I was planting flowers with the neighbor's little boy. The robber was in a helluva hurry. We stood up to give him room to climb over the fence, but for a second, while I was on my knees in the dirt, the gun was at eye level.
Here are the RECENT STATISTICS.