Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gun Control and the Zombie Apocalypse

I was trapped in an elevator traveling neither up or down, caught in that small window between floors where the zombies were free to hack at me through a metal cage – a frail frame of wires which provided enough safety to keep me cocky.

I was in torn and discolored clothing, my hair pulled back in a long messy ponytail secured with a piece of bloodied fabric tied around my head. I had two large hunting knives in my hands, and, foolishly, a useless kitchen steak knife tucked into the waistline of my sagging pants. I had returned to this place of danger from another location of relative safety to procure both a belt and my knife sharpener. Those are the things you think about when the zombie apocalypse occurs in your dreams, I guess.

All around me were zombies doing the Thriller walk, but I also saw my friends and neighbors fighting with all their might, or trying to escape. As the undead pressed against the elevator cage, trying to rip off my face with their clumsy fingers, I was struggling with who to stab. Everyone was dirty and torn. Everyone was splattered with blood. How did I know who was running to safety and who was really a brain-eating zombie?

The inherent survival instinct of my human nature stepped forward in this world of dreams and I definitely stabbed a few zombies without regret. I felt like a bad ass. But my instinct to assume innocence even of those whose flesh came falling off as they lumbered toward me also held on tight.

Among the jaw-flapping living dead on the other side of the elevator cage, there was also a young woman trying to transport orphaned pit-bull puppies to safety. Was she a zombie? Were they were zombie puppies? How did I know for sure if I should stab wildly or restrain myself?

As a person interested in the occult, and all things strange, I am surprisingly not into zombies. I've never much cared for zombie apocalypse discussions, or zombie bar crawls and any other such thing. I have nothing against the undead (go vampires!) but I just can't get into zombies. How they made their way into my dream is a mystery, but I have an inkling where the moral debate may have surfaced.

Over the past 5 years, and especially over the past few months, I've tried to stay abridged in the conversation in this country about gun control. It's a lot of the same stuff – the same arguments from both sides. But yesterday I read an article that made me think.

In an article on The Daily Beast called Don’t Shoot! Why Being a Hero Is Not That Easy, Dan Baum reflects on the NRA recommendation that teachers carry guns to prevent school shootings using his own experience at a virtual reality shooting school.

What we learn from Baum’s nerve-wracking experience is that no matter how sure you are of your mission (Stop the shooter! Save the students! Rescue the pit bull puppy! Re-kill a Zombie!) pulling the trigger isn’t as natural a reaction as we think. Even in a simulated reality where no one would actually be injured if Baum misfired, he still found himself in panicked fear of getting the wrong guy.

He recounts of the scenarios in vivid detail:

“Loud screams erupted as I turned and stepped through a doorway. Someone came running from the gloom at the end of a hall—a young woman, crying and pointing behind her. I raised the gun as another person came running—someone chasing her? No, a screaming man with empty hands.

I was gasping audibly, my torso rigid with fear, as I turned left into a classroom. People were lined up against a blackboard, crying. On the floor lay at least one body, maybe two. In front of me, a big woman had her arm around another woman’s neck and a gun to the woman’s head.

I froze.”

Equipped with two massive knifes in a dream world of deteriorating Zombie attackers, even the Rambo version of me froze. Baum froze in a virtual school under siege by a virtual attacker, and assessed he’d probably freeze in the real life situation, too.

Wouldn’t you?

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