My son played football on the weekend. Before the match I took him to one side and gave him some fatherly advice. After the game I praised him, gave him some feedback and a big hug.
“I’m proud of you son.”
And I was.
In the evening I watched American Sniper. The controversial biography of Chris Kyle. A former U.S. Navy Seal. The most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He had 160 confirmed kills.
There is a scene where Kyle is bonding with his son. In one respect it’s very similar to the moment I had with mine. In another respect the two couldn’t be more different.
Father and son are carrying hunting rifles as they walk through the woods.
“You know that it’s a heck of a thing to stop a beating heart,” Kyle says to his son. “It’s why we are going to do it together the first time.”
I was hoping the kid would tell his father that he didn’t want to kill an animal. Unfortunately, kids tend to follow in their parents’ footsteps. It’s how we grow. It’s where our values and beliefs come from.
There was no gun crime when I grew up. There was no need for metal detectors at my school, kids didn’t worry about guns, and our police force didn’t carry them during our patrols.
I have always felt safe.
I’m glad I have my father and son bonding session over a game of football. I don’t have to carve out a beating heart. I don’t have to smear his face in blood.
One day, when I was traveling back home after a visit North, I bumped into my next door neighbor at the bus stop.
“My brother is dead,” said the boy.
“Don’t talk nonsense,” I said to him.
“I am serious. He’s dead.”
I caught the bus. When I got to the head of my street I could see that the police had cordoned the whole area. I had to explain that I lived there. They let me through.
When I walked into my home my mother was distraught. The boy at the bus stop was telling the truth. A young teenage boy had killed himself using a firearm that belonged to his father. Two weeks earlier I was chastising him for letting the gerbil run loose whilst I was babysitting him. Now he was dead.
The funeral was horrific.
I can still hear her wail.
I can still hear her cry.
“If you’re on your own in this life. The days and nights are long. When you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on.” REM: Everybody Hurts.
I don’t believe we should own guns. I think they are a disaster waiting to happen. I won’t insult your intelligence by reeling off disaster after disaster. You remember them all. Massacres have that effect.
I’m writing this after being triggered by an article written by Dustin Gouker at Parttimepoker.com. The article carried the headline: “Is Possible Online Gambling Ban a Bad Omen for Gun Owner’s Rights?” An article in RedState inspired Gouker’s piece where it was alleged that Sheldon Adelson’s attempt to regulate the Internet was a threat to gun owners.
On one hand it could be good news.
If the pro gun collective is behind the pro online gambling collective then we have strength in numbers.
So why don’t I feel great?
Why am I shrugging my shoulders instead of jumping for joy?
I‘m confused. According to Tony Robbins this is a good sign. It means my brain receptors are ready to learn something new. Let’s hope by the end of this outpouring I will figure out what that is?
I know that online gambling can damage lives. I am a gambling addict. The creation of ‘in-play’ betting was one of the biggest reasons I turned into a lying, cheating scumbag.
But I don’t want to ban online gambling.
I believe that once you reach a certain age you should be able to gamble. It’s your money. Do what you want with it. If you lose it then at least you have been given the choice.
This is where I am in a state of confusion.
If I believe that online gambling MUST be legal – because it’s an individual’s right to be able to do what they want – then am I a hypocrite by not wanting to give people that same freedom when it comes to owning a firearm?
Where do we draw the line?
Guns kill people. We all know that. We have all seen the bloodshed. Some closer to home than most. Bullets ruin lives. But then there is an argument that gambling also ruins lives. That people need to be protected against the dice, cards and wheel, in the same way that people need to be protected against Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.
If Sheldon Adelson was campaigning to ban guns, I think I would support him. It seems logical. It seems sensible. It connects to my values, beliefs, and I think more notably, my experience.
What winds me up the most about Adelson, and his beef with online gambling, is the fact that he has become a gazillionaire through gambling. If gambling destroys lives, then Adelson has more blood on his hands than most.
It bothers me.
It really does.
There is a battle going on inside my head. A battle between right and wrong, light and dark, good and evil. I’m not sure I would be happy with the pro-gun factions joining the fight for online gambling. It’s fear. Bullets scare me – the dice don’t.
I have reached the end of my viewpoint. I am none the wiser. I am still confused as hell. I live in the UK. I am allowed to gamble online. The government regulates my actions. There are systems in place to prevent underage people from participating. There is help on hand should I believe my actions are reeling out of control. If it works here, then it can work anywhere.
Similarly, I can’t walk into a gun shop and purchase a deadly weapon. Keep it in a box alongside my secret porn stash in the event an intruder may break into my home. I’m glad that I can’t. It means nobody else can. It reduces the likelihood that the weapons get into the wrong hands. It’s one less child’s head blown to smithereens.
You don’t always have to be far right, or far left. Even Ryan Giggs played down the middle on occasion. And so this is my stance. My final understanding. Ban guns. Make it as difficult as possible for them to fall into the wrong hands. But don’t ban online gambling. There is a difference between the two. Forget morals. There is a difference. A big difference. You know it and so do I.
If the pro-gun brigade want to put Sheldon Adelson’s head in the stocks, then that’s fine by me. I just won’t be alongside them throwing rotten tomatoes at his head; firing arrows from a crossbow or hollow point bullets from a gun bought from the local store.