Note: Normally I can be a pretty staunch advocate for First Amendment Rights, and, as a minority, I am a supporter of the ACLU in most things, but the matter below strikes close to home and baffles me that there is even an argument in favor of something so nonsensical. Then again, several rich, elected officials proudly said the best way to avoid the Sandy Hook shooting would have been for more guns in schools, so I guess there’s no limit to idiocy. If you are looking to avoid ranting, thinking, or biased diatribes, this may not be the post for you. Sorry, not sorry.
You may think I’m just being sensational with the headline on today’s post, but tell me what other message you would take away from the image below:
Does the image on the right look like the kind of place where you’d want to hang out for 30-60 minutes at night, waiting to take the bus home from school or work? Makes it even more comfortable when you think that this poorly intentioned advertisement is telling the criminally-inclined that it is fine to bring firearms on the train or bus, right? How about the folks exiting the bus and walking through dark neighborhoods or side-streets; so long as the guy who mugs them has been educated in gun safety it’s all cool, yeah?
A pro-gun message being advertised at a Phoenix transit stop says to me “it’s cool to bring your guns on board”. Stop some crime, buckle up your holster, put on a cape and be a safer citizen because you’re locked and loaded and ready to blast the next smelly hobo who accidentally bumps into you.
This story has been in the news the last couple of days because court proceedings have begun regarding actions taken by the City of Phoenix in 2010. Meanwhile, it hasn’t stopped the group responsible for the ad from placing new ones, and it hasn’t stopped the City of Phoenix, ValleyMetro or CBS Outdoor from taking more money and profiting off the message that clearly endorses firearms in all aspects of life, including mass transit.
As detailed by the local news, the original ads saying “Guns Save Lives” were torn down by the city, but they allowed the ones with “Guns Stop Crime” to go up and remain there. Is Phoenix Transit somehow uncertain about the role of firearms in violent crimes? If so, let me share a few personal stories.
Trying the Social Appeal
A while back I mentioned this ad on twitter, and received a short, polite, if ultimately useless response from ValleyMetro, and no actual action taken about the ad. (I do feel a little bad for whoever manages the @ValleyMetro account, as they’ve clearly been left in the dark on the matter.)
Sad to say, ValleyMetro twitter account-handler, that actually the City doesn’t admin the ads either. You guys actually have a page on your website that says it’s all done by CBS Outdoor. Now, if you want to tell me that you set-up that page to accept dollars for ads, never thinking you might get an ad that was questionable or dangerous to put up, and nobody in your organization is prepared to tell your ad agency that such ads should not be allowed…. well I could respect that kind of honesty. Alas, you either didn’t know the truth, or weren’t allowed to admit it on Twitter; neither of which inspires me to continue being an advocate for public transit in this automobile-centric city of our’s.
The Personal Connection
In the fall of 1996, I was attending North High on 12th street & Thomas, taking the bus 45-60 minutes each way from my home in Maryvale because of the magnet program that school offered. (Yay for ethnically-motivated programs!)
One afternoon, I hung around campus a little while longer than usual, because instead of going home I was heading to my after-school job as a ball-boy for the Phoenix Suns. When I tried to catch the bus, I noticed that traffic had been stopped and the bus was wrapped in police tape just a couple blocks away from school. Turns out that my friend Julian had gotten on the bus at 12th street and been shot in the chest by another rider before the bus even made it to the next intersection. He spent the next week in a hospital fighting for his life, while the guy who shot him was never brought in.
Did the gun that shot Julian stop any crimes that day? Should Julian have been armed to protect himself, and/or retaliate in an over-crowded, confined area full of students and people just going about their lives?
In June of 2007, my little brother and I went to our mother’s house in West Phoenix to celebrate his 18th birthday with our family. When dinner ended, we planned to head back to my apartment in Midtown for the evening. As we were waiting for the bus, kid with a shaved head, a pierced eyebrow and a neck tattoo walked up to us and promptly pointed his pistol at my brother’s temple from a foot away. Despite the fact that we were on a busy street in plain view of hundreds of passing motorists (Yay for the bystander effect!), the only decision was give up my wallet and cell phone or fight a guy that had a guaranteed kill shot on my flesh & blood.
The number of times I’ve replayed that sequence in my head over the years are countless. Many times I’ve asked myself
- What if I’d seen the gun earlier and been able to wrestle it away?
- Could I have signaled my brother to duck while I body slammed the guy into an oncoming truck?
- Should I have put myself in front of my brother and taken a bullet myself?
Never once, though, did I think “Man, I really wish I had been carrying a gun that day”.
My brother and I had both taken gun safety classes growing up, and by that point my brother was already a trained marksman preparing to enter the military. Certainly if either of us had been armed, we may have very well “stopped crime”, or at least stopped the robbery and subsequent identity theft. But then one or both of us would have faced charges for fatally shooting a guy who was so desperate he robbed us for $40 cash and a craptastic Sony Ericsson w610i.
So, Mayor Stanton and Mr Korwin, can either of you tell me that us being armed as we prepared to board the bus that evening would have been a good thing? If not, why are you advertising that it is?
In the end, I shouldn’t be surprised that a public office/utility has let us down and turned it’s back on public health & safety in favor of fast cash. After all, we remember this saga, right?
- Possible motive emerges in Phoenix massacre (huffingtonpost.com)
- Ban on ‘Guns Save Lives’ bus-stop ad is back in court (usatoday.com)
- Gun business owner’s rights violated? (abc15.com)