Talking Guns with Texan Molly Ivins

I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults. – Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007)

Although Molly Ivins was born in Monterrey, California in 1944, her family wasted no time in moving her as a young child to Texas where she grew up and  lived off and on for the rest of her life. As a native Texan I claim Molly not only as a fellow Texan but also as one of my favorite women “essayists with humorist tendencies.” When I come back in my next life, please God, let me come back with the writing ability of Molly Ivins and the voice of Maya Angelou.

Molly Ivins was a writer best known for her columns in more than 400 newspapers across the country – columns which poked fun at her favorite targets: the corrupt Texas legislature, George Dubya Bush and Bill Clinton, her adopted state of Texas, bubbas in that state, herself, and the breast cancer that eventually killed her. A best selling author, humorist and speaker, she became one of the most famous female storytellers ever to claim the state of Texas as her own…to run with that image as the tall Texan in her cowboy boots, pickup truck and her dog named Shit as she mixed it up with the most powerful people in the state capital of Austin. At her height of six feet she was easily spotted at the bars and cocktail parties where she drank with enthusiasm, frequently overserved. Alcoholism was an addiction she considered necessary for her humor, but the laughs came with a steep price.


On March 13, 1993 Molly Ivins published this column called Taking a Stab at our Infatuation with Guns.  Twenty-seven years later they sadly still ring true:

Guns. Everywhere guns. Let me start this discussion by pointing out that I am not anti-gun. I’m pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife.

In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We’d turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don’t ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.

As a civil libertarian, I of course support the Second Amendment. And I believe it means exactly what it says: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Fourteen-year-old boys are not part of a well-regulated militia. Members of wacky religious cults are not part of a well-regulated militia. Permitting unregulated citizens to have guns is destroying the security of this free state.

I am intrigued by the arguments of those who claim to follow the judicial doctrine of original intent. How do they know it was the dearest wish of Thomas Jefferson’s heart that teen-age drug dealers should cruise the cities of this nation perforating their fellow citizens with assault rifles? Channelling?

There is more hooey spread about the Second Amendment. It says quite clearly that guns are for those who form part of a well-regulated militia, i.e., the armed forces including the National Guard. The reasons for keeping them away from everyone else get clearer by the day.

The comparison most often used is that of the automobile, another lethal object that is regularly used to wreak great carnage. Obviously, this society is full of people who haven’t got enough common sense to use an automobile properly. But we haven’t outlawed cars yet.

We do, however, license them and their owners, restrict their use to presumably sane and sober adults and keep track of who sells them to whom. At a minimum, we should do the same with guns.

In truth, there is no rational argument for guns in this society. This is no longer a frontier nation in which people hunt their own food. It is a crowded, overwhelmingly urban country in which letting people have access to guns is a continuing disaster. Those who want guns – whether for target shooting, hunting or potting rattlesnakes (get a hoe) – should be subject to the same restrictions placed on gun owners in England – a nation in which liberty has survived nicely without an armed populace.

The argument that “guns don’t kill people” is patent nonsense. Anyone who has ever worked in a cop shop knows how many family arguments end in murder because there was a gun in the house. Did the gun kill someone? No. But if there had been no gun, no one would have died. At least not without a good foot race first. Guns do kill. Unlike cars, that is all they do.

Michael Crichton makes an interesting argument about technology in his thriller “Jurassic Park.” He points out that power without discipline is making this society into a wreckage. By the time someone who studies the martial arts becomes a master – literally able to kill with bare hands – that person has also undergone years of training and discipline. But any fool can pick up a gun and kill with it.

A well-regulated militia” surely implies both long training and long discipline. That is the least, the very least, that should be required of those who are permitted to have guns, because a gun is literally the power to kill. For years, I used to enjoy taunting my gun-nut friends about their psycho-sexual hang-ups – always in a spirit of good cheer, you understand. But letting the noisy minority in the National Rifle Association force us to allow this carnage to continue is just plain insane.

I do think gun nuts have a power hang-up. I don’t know what is missing in their psyches that they need to feel they have to have the power to kill. But no sane society would allow this to continue.

Ban the damn things. Ban them all.

You want protection? Get a dog.

Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007)

photo by Carol Kassie

Tell it, Sister Girl.

Stay tuned.

(Full disclosure: the above comes from blogs posted here 01-31-2012, 10-19-2019)

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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9 Responses to Talking Guns with Texan Molly Ivins

  1. Molly Ivins is our kinda girl! What a great piece about guns. Somewhat worried that there are queues round the block to buy them before virus madness takes hold…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne says:

    Loved this! Thank you! Was that really her dog’s name at baptism? Lol so great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JosieHolford says:

    Always good to be reminded of the incomparable Molly Ivins. I’ve been missing her forever it seems. And your post does her justice. In fact – write ten more posts about he and it would not be enough! Did you see the documentary that came out last year?
    Raise Hell- The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.
    I thought it did a good job of revealing a little of who she was and what made her tick.

    What would she have made of the marmalade moron we are currently infested with…? She took on the Bushes who were monstrous but with the veneer of civility and decency. We now have an evil monstrosity with no veneer save that of division and racism.

    Ok! Rant over… Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you liked this post on Molly Ivins. And yes, I did see the documentary last year. I loved it and was thrilled to learn a bit more about her. I also have many Molly stories – my favorite aunt Lucille lived in Beaumont and went to see and hear Molly at Lamar University years ago. Said she was one of the funniest people she’d ever heard.
      I can’t begin to imagine what she would have thought about the “marmalade moron” we have today. I would love to have her throw the weight of her words and wit against him and the thugs who surround him. Sigh. Rant never over.
      Thanks for reading and your comments!


  4. Thom Hickey says:

    She was some broad!

    Writing humorously is a very rare gift.

    Stay well


    Liked by 1 person

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