David J Smith
David J Smith

Oscar and Chekhov’s Gun

There is a rule in screenwriting that if you introduce a gun into a scene, at some point you must use it. The rule applies to real life too. That’s how Reeva Steenkamp lost her life. A gun appeared in her story, and she got shot dead. Regardless of the circumstances, when guns are near people, they kill people.

I know the gun fraternity will say that it was Oscar Pistorius who pulled the trigger, and not the rest of the gun community out there. But that’s what Oscar would have said a few days ago. He would have said, “I am a responsible gun owner and I will never use my firearm to hurt an innocent person”. Well, whatever happened that night, we can be sure of one thing, he did exactly that. He went from “responsible” gun owner to a man on trial for premeditated murder. And his girlfriend went from a young person to a dead person.

Guns have no real place in our homes any more. The protection argument just doesn’t wash. While home invasion, rape and murder are scary, very real crimes, the murder of a loved one is just as likely when you own a gun. The stats continuously show that the most likely person to die from your gun is you or someone you know. Your children, your wife, your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. Just ask Oscar.

When I was at school, a kid in our year had his head blown off while he and a mate mucked about with a gun. It was a tragic accident everyone said. But really it wasn’t. An accident is an unintentional event. When you pick up a gun, you have declared your intentions, you have made yourself clear, you intend to use the gun. There is no other reason to pick one up. You can’t clean the oven with it, or write a letter, or find your way home with it. It does just one thing. It kills things. Gun deaths are no accident.

Some would like to believe that they still need them to hunt for fun or food or sexual satisfaction, but really all of that stuff can be done quite easily without guns. There are people who will whip you, let you whip them, there are supermarkets where you can get food, and video games that let you shoot up aliens and little furry animals if you like. No one needs to hunt, not any more. And if you really can’t do without the thrill of killing animals, get a job in an abattoir, I hear they pay pretty well.

Where does that leave us? Nowhere really. Just with a dead girl, a fallen hero, and a fairly simple rule: Own a gun, shoot a gun. Shoot a gun, kill someone.

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