It was a story to gladden the heart of the National Rifle
Association. It was about a guy who lost an appendage and no guns were
"Oh, no," you're thinking. "Not another piece about the Bobbitts."
If you'd been paying attention, you'd know that I don't do sordid
sensationalism. If I can't stay on the high road, I don't make the
trip. Somebody has to maintain standards of delicacy and decency. So
I'm not talking about the Bobbitts.
I'm talking about the guy in Denver who got his nose bitten off.
Over a pool game.
According to the Denver Post, "he was jumped outside the bar by
one of the losing pool players, who bit off his nose before he knew what
was happening." A neighbor "found his nose and glasses in the parking
lot" (note the Post's decorous refusal to say whether the glasses were
still on the nose). The nose got packed in ice, then went to the
hospital where surgeons tried to re-attach it.
It didn't take.
"We didn't expect it to take," the plastic surgeon said. "It was
more a matter of 'Well, it's here. We might as well try to put it back
But there's an upbeat ending. Now they're building him a new nose.
Reminds me of a guy in my hometown. His brother got mad at him and
bit off his ear. Not his whole ear. Just a bite-sized chunk. That was
back before they bothered to re-attach missing appendages. If someone
bit it off, it stayed off. So Dick just walked arounda little
lopsidedwith that nub of an ear, resenting people who stared at it.
"Here he comes," we'd say. "Don't look at his ear."
That kind of dismemberment, incidentally, has long been a staple of
American culture. Back in 1833, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet wrote a
wildly popular book called Georgia Scenes in which two half-man,
half-alligator types fight over some trifle. By the end, the winner
was missing the middle finger of his left hand and "had entirely lost
his left ear, and a large piece from his left cheek."
But what, you ask, has all this to do with the NRA? I'll tell you.
The NRA believes that "Guns don't kill people. People kill
people." And stories in which people resort to the most primitive and
low tech of weaponstheir teeth, saysupport the NRA position: It's
not guns that are the problem; it's our wicked nature. Take away our
guns and we'll bite each other to death. Extract our teeth and we'll do
our damnedest to gum one another into early graves. The only solution
to our violence is Universal Purification of the Human Soul. And until
that comes to pass, we need guns to protect ourselves.
But that position has been getting a lot of bad press lately. And
not just from wise guys who point out you hardly ever see a drive-by
biting anymore. Twice within the last year or so, gun owners have
protected themselves by shooting down foreign innocentsa Japanese
teenager who went to the wrong house for a Halloween party, and a drunk
Scotsman who banged on a door to get directions.
The Truth, Mainly
A study last fall by a researcher at Emory University undermined
the self-defense argument by concluding that having a gun in your house
triples your chances of being murdered"usually by friends or
All sorts of schemes are being tried to disarm the publictrading
in guns for football and basketball tickets in Denver, for $100 gift
certificates to Toys R Us in New York City, for Bibles in Brooklyn's
And the government is trying to raise taxes on ammunition and raise
licensing fees on gun dealers.
The most innovative move is one proposed by Post columnist Ed
Quillenwho takes a narrow and literalist view of the Second Amendment
and the original intent of the founding fathers. That means, he says,
the arms we have the constitutional right to bear must have been made no
later than 1791. And we have to make our own ammunition with what was
available thenblack powder, lead, and flint.
The anti-gun propaganda seems to be working. According to a USA
Today-Gallup poll, 67% of us want stricter laws on gun sales, 81% favor
handgun registration, and 87% agree with the Brady bill.
True grit gunmen don't retreat though. They're working to loosen
up the laws against concealed weapons, the idea being that if enough
law-abiding people carry handguns under their coats or tucked in their
garters, criminals will get discouraged.
As one advocate explained it to the Colorado legislature, killing
is not a bad thing when the person killed is evil.
Dirty Harry couldn't have said it better. The idea does have a
make-my-day kind of appeal. Imagine a stranger approaching you on the
street. He looks like a foreigner! He looks like he just lost a game
of pool! He looks like he intends to bite off your nose!
BLAM! BLAM BLAM BLAM!
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.