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How to survive in a country drowning in guns

Just follow this simple guide and you’ll be safe.

Police tape in Half Moon Bay, Calif.SAMANTHA LAUREY/AFP via Getty Images

Here’s how you can be absolutely sure you will never be cut down in a mass shooting in this country where guns are more valuable than human lives.

Don’t go out dancing for Lunar New Year at a ballroom that an unhinged murderer hates for reasons you know nothing about. Don’t work at a farm that could be targeted by an armed, easily angered employee with a history of workplace threats. Don’t be related to anybody who is in one of the gangs that now rule your small, rural town.

Don’t be the child of a man who will one day decide to kill most of your family before he shoots himself. Don’t try to leave a man who would rather your entire family be dead than live apart.


Don’t go to your Walmart break room if your paranoid manager intends to follow through on threats he’s made in the past. Don’t go to a food court at your local mall. Don’t go to a big country music festival. Don’t go to a Fourth of July parade. Don’t go to a drag show.

Don’t worship at a church in Sutherland Springs or welcome a stranger who turns out to be an armed white supremacist into your Bible study group in Charleston, or be a Jew in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Don’t be a Black customer at a Buffalo Tops Supermarket, or a Latino one at an El Paso Walmart, or a gay one at a nightclub in Orlando. Don’t be coming out of a club in Sacramento, or seeing a midnight movie in Aurora.

Don’t perform surgery, or be near the person who performed it, on a patient who is so angry for the pain he still suffers that he wants to kill you all. Don’t make anyone who might kill you angry, ever. Don’t work in a municipal health department with a quiet colleague who will become a terrorist and come back to massacre you all.


Don’t be a fourth-grader in Uvalde, Texas or a first-grader in Newtown, Conn. Or go to high school in Oxford, Mich., or Santa Clarita, Calif., or Santa Fe, Texas, or Parkland, Fla., or Marysville, Wash. Steer clear of Umpqua Community College in Oregon and Oikos University in California and Virginia Tech and Santa Monica College. Stay far away from any school that might be targeted by a disaffected youth with easy access to guns.

Don’t be in one of the states where guns can be had by anybody with a pulse, including those with a history of violent offenses – especially domestic violence – and those who are struggling and terrifying but who cannot get treatment for mental illness. Or in a state where somebody whose own parents report them for alarming behavior, and from whom guns might already have been confiscated, is nonetheless legally able to get more guns with which to mow people down. Or anywhere near a child whose parents supply them with weapons or who fail to secure their own.

Also, don’t be in any state to which these people are free to travel — like Massachusetts.

Don’t live anywhere that is governed by a Congress in thrall to a gun industry that enjoys near absolute legal immunity and that, in the interests of expanding a market that is already utterly saturated, opposes even the most basic safety measures. Assisted by friendly judges, they fight bans on weaponry designed to mow down as many people as possible; prohibitions against untraceable ghost guns; mandatory smart locks that would prevent anyone but a rightful owner from firing a gun; and meaningful gun licenses or at least proper background checks.


Of course, even if all of these protections were to become real, it still wouldn’t be enough to stop every mass shooting. We’re too far gone for that. But they’d prevent some of them, saving hundreds of lives and keeping many thousands whole.

But we don’t live in a country where that calculation works for the politicians the gun lobby owns, or the voters gulled into believing the bodies falling around them are the regrettable but unavoidable price of freedom – a country where almost-daily massacres change nothing.

That’s why we have no choice but to protect ourselves.

So, save these rules. Follow them. It’s the only way to be truly safe.

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham can be reached at yvonne.abraham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeAbraham.