Here is another of Paolo Soleri’s many essay’s: THE GUN, perhaps a fitting subject for this holiday.


“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
–Article II of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.


Antecedent to blood spilling is the predisposition to kill. In a way, the predisposition is more nakedly violent than the act of killing, since it entails cold “premeditation” and the rationalization, the logic of killing.

That 50 or more million Americans are quietly contemplating killing as self-defense or in the defense of property is a chilling reality. It announces an ethic of disquieting fragility in which killing is not such an extravagant option, vis-á-vis the overriding mandate coming from an interpretation of the aggression that demands no less than the irreversible fact of the aggressor’s death.

Part of the horror is that victim and victimizer are interchangeable in the Russian-roulette game. The gun as self-defense is more than often a delusion, a fatal delusion. As for, “guns don’t kill, people kill!!” —tell that to a mother holding the corpse of her “suicidal” baby, or worse, the baby killed by his infant brother……

The front-loading rifle or gun in the mind of the Founders (to be available to a well-disciplined militia) are of a different “nature” from the automatic or semi-automatic bullet-sprayers of today. But the true tragedy is in the demeaning of a whole society by way of the ‘one human eye for an electronic eye (TV set) the robber is walking away with’-ethic.

It might be worthwhile to establish a gun free zone in which the residents are willing to incur the risk of one-sided deadly violence; a risk far smaller than the full-blooded gun-carrying American might be willing to believe. A lot of killing comes from the fear of being killed, therefrom the gun-carrying. The consequent chain-reaction is generating a squalid sense of community—
250 million Americans are suffering from it, hostage to themselves. That is the shame of the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) and the gun idolatry it perpetuates.

Unless and until the gun icon is perceived as pernicious and brutalizing, the country will remain, in the eyes of the world, violent and mean.

Paolo Soleri
October 30, 1991

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