We're watching the news when my wife starts making the snorting
noises. We've just seen a salesman at a deadly weapons bazaar in Texas
show off his hand grenades and plastic explosives to the TV reporter,
and now we're watching the congressional inquiry into what went wrong at
Waco. It's when a congressman asks what we should do to prevent
recurrences that my wife begins to snort.
"Do you snort, m'love?" I ask.
"Indeed I do," she says. "I snort in derision."
"Then I suppose conversation is about to ensue," I say, closing the
sports page and settling back in the recliner. "Why the indignation?"
"Because," she snorts derisively, "Congress already knows how to
prevent recurrences of what went wrong in Waco. They just lack the
strength of character to do what needs to be done."
"Well," she says, "we can't keep anyone from thinking he's the
Second Coming, but we don't need to sell him the fateful lightning of
his terrible swift sword."
"Hah?" I say. "What's that mean?"
"Gun control for deities," she says.
"Gun control?" I gurgle, my eyes bulging and my legs crossing
"There's no reason in the world," she says, "we should sell hand
grenades, plastic explosives, and .50 caliber machine guns to someone
who says he's Yahweh. If he really is, then he doesn't need them. If
he only thinks he is, then he's probably dangerous and shouldn't have
"Gun control?" I say again, trying to uncross my legs and get my
mind around the enormity of what my own helpmate is saying.
"I know most males have a problem with that," she says, "and I know
Congress is made up mostly of aging males who get knots in their shorts
just thinking about gun control for anybody. But notice that I resist
the temptation to point out the obvious connection between sexual
insecurities and .50 caliber phallic substitutes."
"Wait a minute," I say, getting my legs uncrossed and my mind back
into its steel trap mode. "What about the free market? What about the
Constitution? We've all got a right to bear arms, even if we think
She pulls a copy of the Constitution from her bodice.
"Here," she says. "Read it. Second Amendment."
"Aha!" I say. "Says right here, 'the right of the people to keep
and bear Arms shall not be infringed.'"
"Read the rest of it," she says. "The first part of the sentence."
"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the
people," I read, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall
not be infringed."
Then I remember. She doesn't understand the Constitution. She
thinks that sentence means we have the right to keep an armed militia
necessary to the security of the people.
The Truth, Mainly
"Now why would Yahweh need an armed militia to keep his people
secure?" she asks. "Couldn't he just drown his enemies in the Red Sea?
Or turn them into pillars of salt?"
"I'm no legal scholar," I say. "But everyone knows we've all got a
constitutional right to bear arms."
"The U.S. Supreme Court has never said so," she says. "The only
time it ruled on the Second Amendment was in U.S. v. Miller in 1939 and
all it said then was that a community had a right to keep a militia.
Yahweh wasn't mentioned."
"Legalistic nit-picking," I say. "Rememberif you outlaw hand
grenade ownership, only outlaws will own hand grenades. And what about
hunters? Answer me that!"
"Real Yahwehs don't hunt," she says. "I believe they're
vegetarians. I believe they live on nectar and ambrosia. If you want
to tell a real Yahweh from a false one, watch what he eats. Pork chops,
he shouldn't get guns. Nectar and ambrosia, he doesn't need guns."
"But this is America," I say, feeling the argument slipping away.
"Everybody needs a gun. It's our constitutional right."
"That's not for aging males to decide, dear," she says, patting me
on the hand. "A few more women in Congress and they'll pass a law
excluding anyone who now is or ever has been a deity. A few more women
on the Supreme Court and they'll rule on whether it's constitutional."
"Foot-in-the-doorism!" I yell. "First it'll be deities, then
demi-gods, then heroes like Ollie North who protect us from the Red
Menace! Commie plot! Nip it in the bud!"
"You're ranting, dear," she says. "And raving, although it's not
always easy to tell the difference. Keep it up and it might grow into
delusions of grandeur, then puff up to hubris, and finally ascend to
self-deification. Then no gun for you."
That's when I begin to make snorting noises. And there's a
rumbling from somewhere, the sound of distant thunder. I can't tell
whether it's Yahweh or the N.R.A.
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.