Black-and-white photo depicting a silhouette of a man with a gun over a dark wall.

OPINION | Guns Have Become the Tools of Cowards

by Lola E. Peters

It used to be that men were different from boys because they did the difficult things, like taking responsibility for their actions, walking away from a fight when it would be easier not to, graciously accepting defeat and congratulating their opponent, doing what was right even if it wasn’t in their self-interest. I know many of that type of man still exist, but they have been overshadowed by men who would rather lie, cheat, steal, or kill to hide their fears. 

I’m tired of hearing about men using guns as a way to soothe their egos, end arguments, or force others to do their bidding. This essay is my response to them. 

When you point a gun at someone, you’re making this statement: “I’m afraid of you. As long as you’re alive, I can’t win. As long as you’re alive, I’m a loser, so I have to use a gun to eliminate you.”

Let’s look at some examples.

Your lover/partner says they’re leaving you. By pointing a gun at them, you’re telling the world that you don’t believe in your ability to find another lover/partner. You don’t have the skills, strength, experience, or courage to go through the process of grieving your loss. You’re also admitting your immaturity. A mature person would step away and give themselves time and space to grieve and heal, but you act rashly, out of fear of being alone, without thinking about the consequences. 

You get fired from your job. By using a gun to intimidate or assault your coworkers, you’re telling the world you don’t believe you have the skill to find another job. You don’t believe you’re good enough to go somewhere else and be accepted. More importantly, you’re telling the world you’re not mature enough to assess why you got fired and, if possible, make improvements so you won’t get fired from the next job. And if your firing really was unjust, by using violence instead of walking away, you undermine the legitimacy of your own case.

Someone cuts you off in traffic. By going after them with a gun, you’re telling the whole world you’re so weak you have to eliminate a bad driver in order to feel strong. If you actually were strong, and confident, you’d simply realize the person is, at best, a bad driver or, at worst, a jerk, and go on about your day a minute or two later than you would have been. For all you know, that person could be trying to get to their parent’s deathbed. Instead, you think it’s about you and think you’re defending your honor when, in fact, you’re proving you have no honor. An honorable person gives others the benefit of the doubt.

You’re a law enforcement professional and point your gun at someone who has their hands up, or is already restrained, or is moving away from you, or ran a stop sign, or had a burned-out taillight, or is asleep in their bed, or is a child, or is mentally ill. Your message is clear: Without the gun, you feel powerless. You have no trust in your own authority, the authority of your uniform or status, let alone your ability to persuade. Without your gun, you live in fear. You’re telling the world that without your gun you are nothing.

Anyone who uses a gun against another person for anything other than defense from an actual physical assault is a coward. The fear may differ, but it’s fear nonetheless. Someone who has to carry a gun wherever they go is letting the world know they’re afraid to walk out of their house. 

It’s okay to get angry or feel hurt. It’s not okay to victimize others based on those feelings. We need to start acknowledging the men of courage who do the truly difficult things in life. We need to start calling out the cowards.

The South Seattle Emerald is committed to holding space for a variety of viewpoints within our community, with the understanding that differing perspectives do not negate mutual respect amongst community members.

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.

Lola E. Peters is the operations administrator and an editor-at-large for the South Seattle Emerald.

📸 Featured Image: Photo via monte_a/

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