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Friday, February 23, 2018


(My Neighbor Calls Gun Owners ‘Beelzeguns,’ 
Says They Call Themselves ‘Gun Nuts’ 
Because Otherwise They Don’t Have Any Balls)

Graphic from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show.

by Ron Riekki

There have been two killed and twenty injured
by gun violence in the U.S. since Parkland.*
The melting pot is melting because of climate
change and the heat of being ambushed by
a blizzard of shrapnel. I taught a course on gun
violence and near the halfway point a student’s

girlfriend was shot and killed on campus. Life
used to stand until a Loaded Gun carried me
away to my graveyard shift where I don’t teach
anymore, sunk into the valley of security,
unarmed security, where I’m paid to stay awake
and at night, in the mountains of dark I remember

a kid telling me during that class that he used to take
his gun and shoot it at the lake at his parents’ camp,
December, Alabama, trying to make the bullets
skip. I asked him if he thought he might have
killed someone by mistake doing that and he told
me, Nah, no one was around for miles. There’ve

been more than two killed, more than twenty injured
now since.* Since. In Detroit, I remember a moment
on the street where someone commented on
another person’s visible bullet-hole scar.  He
lifted up his shirt to reveal more and then a bunch
of those nearby started sharing their bullet holes,

pant legs rolled up, shirts off, the drinking
of wounds. In Virginia, I delivered a Feast Pizza
to a trailer where the guy sat on his historical sofa
holding an old shotgun pointed at my college chest.
I asked what the hell he was doing and he said,
I just wanted to see your reaction. His girl-

friend told him to put the gun down,
but he didn’t. When I got back to the Dominos,
one of the other drivers asked, Did he do it to you?
He likes to do that to everyone who delivers there.
A cop told me about a kid who got shot in the eye
and the bullet ricocheted and came out the other eye.

During EMT class, the instructor asked if any
of us had been shot and one of the students
raised his hand; he’d shot himself by mistake,
cleaning his gun. The instructor told us a story
of how he got shot by a kid when he was doing CPR
on a rival gang member that they didn’t want saved.

By a kid, I mean a child. By a child, I mean that we
are drowning in the shallow end. After school shootings,
gun sales go up. I mean, throw up. As in puke. “It’s too
soon to talk about gun control.”  Hell, it’s too late.
Graffiti by my apartment says, What You Rape
Is What You Sewer with an AR-15 policed underneath,

plastered to the wall, pulverized to the wall in onyx
paint. Two times in my life, when talking about gun
control, I’ve had a person reach over and pull a gun out
of nowhere. Anti-magic. One was under a couch.
Another in a purse. As if guns were cigarettes.
As if guns were TV channels. As if the guy who lived

across from me in Chicago wasn’t shot and killed
in his apartment. My favorite superheroes never
use a gun. That’s for villains. Batarangs and bat-darts—
sure, but I always prefer those who simply outsmart, whose
sheer intelligence comes out. The opposite of those
who cure guns with guns, who stop choking by choking

more. The king of choking. We elected the king
of choking. Chos—a Persian word for fart.  The NRA chos-
king. A rump . . . Real hunters use bow-and-arrow. They bow
before the flesh and honor the animal by using every
body part, not sitting next to an elephant, leaning
against its belly with the gun in his crotch. Cowards.

*Accurate as of February 21, 2018. The numbers have enlarged since then.

Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).