August 29, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 19

Should we ban hammers?

Guest Commentary

In Brockton, Mass., about 30 minutes from where I live, someone beat a 74-year-old man to death with a hammer.

Oddly (or maybe not), I have some experience with hammer attacks. I’ve helped cover two of them in the last 10 years — one fatal, one not.

The best thing about a hammer killing is not the tearing screams of the victim, though you’d think it would be. It’s not the impressive “splatter factor” caused when the skull is smashed by a claw hammer (especially true if you use the claw end). It’s not even the once-in-a-lifetime chance to look into someone’s brain, gray and spongy as liverwurst.

Oh, sure, that stuff is cinematic as hell, but it’s not the real fun of a hammer murder.

Now, the hammer assaults I covered were both committed by poor people who struck other poor people of the same race, so neither story had enough legs to walk across the street. But at least both of those hammerings could be of use to folks who are protecting my right to own a gun.

You write a story about a hammer killing, and the newspaper you work for puts it on the website, and within 10 seconds, the first bit of poorly conceived boys-at-the-bar sarcasm arrives via one of the bravely anonymous who infest the comment sections of newspapers.

“We should pass more ‘hammer control’ laws,” the comment reads.

“There should be background checks for hammers, and you should have to get a license to own a hammer. After all, gun control has really cut the murder rate ...”

And wait, here it comes, the hammer of humor at the end of the comment, sarcasm as pointed as a billiard ball.

“Oh, wait a minute,” the commenter writes. “That’s right, it DOESN’T work with guns.”

And the commenter invariably signs him/herself either “Tom Paine” or “John Galt,” though often the commenter isn’t sure if John Galt is a fictional character or a historical figure.

And weary EMTs snap the gloves from their hands.

And, lest we forget who owns us, the guys at the top, the CEOs with the thin wristwatches and the thinner wives, laugh like hell as the $35,000-a-year patriots squabble over gun rights while the guys at the top steal the money, loot the pensions, break the unions and drive down wages, leaving us to fight over blood-smeared hammers and guns.

What I see coming in America is a nation of people with non-union, part-time, temporary jobs with no seniority, no pension, no health care and no right to talk back.

But we will still have our guns, so we will still be free.

And if you become so poor that you cannot afford to eat, sell the gun and buy a hammer.

As long as you can still kill someone, you will still be free.

Freedom is death. Driven in like a hammer drives a nail.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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