A sign of the times

Dear President Trump,

Early last week on a long-ish walk I saw a sign affixed next to someone’s front door. It’s not one of the sweet homemade signs thanking essential workers or encouraging passersby to hang in or spread love. Nope. It’s pretty much the antithesis of those sorts of signs as it’s a purchased plastic deal that says “Never Mind the Dog. Beware of Owner” next to a line drawing of a white hand holding a gun with the barrel facing out towards the viewer. It’s super menacing. I’d find it hard to live next door to the person (or persons) who thought it was a good idea to post such a sign on their home. It reminds me of the people next door to the first house we lived in here in Seattle who shot BBs at the pigeons roosting under their eaves. That was awful, for sure, but the “Beware of Owner” sign in some ways feels worse; it’s a piss around the perimeter of “my property” sort of move that’s intended to be intimidating.

I was curious whether (and hoping) this was a one-off that someone had made for themselves so I did the Google thing to see and found that these signs are a thing – Amazon sells lots of versions, but you can also get them from Patriot Depot, MySecuritySign, and eBay, for starters. Some of them show two guns and lots of them show wisps of smoke coming out of the barrel(s), which adds an extra-special “I’ll kill you if you blink” sort of messaging, don’t you think? Then there’s the “Warning ~ Protected by 2nd Amendment Security” sign with a silhouette of an automatic pistol nestled in among the words – that’s special too. OMG.

And it’s just getting worse. I know I’ve noted this before, but gun and ammunition sales are way, way up and I read an article yesterday about the continued escalations in the numbers of calls to domestic violence hotlines. The piece included the grim statistic that since the shelter-in-place orders have been in effect there’ve been 22 murder/suicides per week in the US, which is double the weekly rate for the same timespan a year ago (which was already horrifying). So really, signs like the one I saw are almost certainly not just signaling danger for perceived intruders, but also for the occupants of homes with guns. What the hell is wrong with us?

Never mind – you can’t answer that question coherently and there are so many potential valid responses I’d be here all night if I tried to tackle it. But oh my goodness do we need to pull our shit together.

Two more things before I sign off for the night. First, it was probably the combination of having looked up the “Beware of Owner” sign and checking to see if I was using the phrase “in your sights” properly in a letter late last week, but it was dismaying to find a pop-up ad for buying guns on the worldometer site a few days ago when I was checking the covid-19 numbers. It was only there the one time, but dang was it unsettling.

Second, I suppose in a way that sign is sort of a public service in that it serves as a clear warning – the occupant of this house is prepared to do bodily harm if….. what? Someone tries to sell them a magazine subscription? Girl Scout cookies? Knocks on the door looking for directions or help? Has the wrong color skin and steps on the lawn? Coughs in the general direction of the house? What? I don’t know – maybe it’s good to be warned to steer way clear of such houses and their owners, but it does cast a pall over the immediate surroundings and gives off a decidedly un-neighborly vibe that we don’t need.

May we be safe inside and outside our own homes and one anothers’ homes.
May we be willing to stop already with the violence-related obsessions.
May we see that such obsessions aren’t healthy and they don’t make us stronger.
May we reject the profit-driven brainwashing that tells us guns make us safer.

Tracy Simpson

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