My mouth went off

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By John Pawlak

I was sitting in the lobby of the “Innocent Little Angels Child Care Center,” waiting for my friend as he was picking up his toddler.
Suddenly, I started cursing, spitting out a stream of obscenities that would make a sailor blush.  I did feel a bit guilty about all those crying children.
 This incident reminded me of the week before when I was visiting the “Golden Years Nursing Home.”
There too, without warning, I suddenly blurted out a few hundred choice verbs, adjectives, and colorful metaphors.  I’m not sure why so many old people were clutching their chests.  Maybe something they ate?
Of course, no charges were ever filed.  You see, it wasn’t my fault.  It was my mouth.  It just, well, it just went off.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if you could make excuses like that?  “I’m sorry officer, but I’m not responsible for running that stop sign.  It was my car.  It just went off.”   “Gee buddy, I’m sorry about punching out your grandmother.  She cut in front of me in line and my fists just went off.”
 The real world isn’t all far off from that level of insanity.
After a church service in St. Petersburg, Florida, two parishioners were admiring a gun that one of them had brought to
While holding the gun, it “went off” and shot through the wall, hitting the pastor’s daughter in the head.
 At an airport in Atlanta, a TSA agent confiscated a gun at the checkpoint and attempted to unload it.  The gun “went off”.
 In the Bronx, a 14-year old boy was showing his gun to some friends and the gun “went off,” shooting a girl in the arm.
  At a gun show in Mesa, Arizona, a gun “went off,” injuring three people. In Michigan, a man was holding a gun and the gun “went off,” shooting his friend.  A Plymouth State University student was unloading a gun and was killed when the gun “went off.”
  These stories are always truly tragic.  Well, not all of them.  A Wichita man limped into a hospital after being shot in the groin.  He was putting the gun in his waistband (like the really cool guys in movies) and the gun “went off.”  
  Story after story of guns going off, and the people who pulled the triggers getting off.  No charges being filed because these are accidents.  It’s the gun’s fault.
  That’s the phrase used by the media, four little words that scream out the dangers of these metallic demons that at any time can (apparently on their own accord) decide to “go off” and kill one of us.  
The gun went off.  The gun went off.  Just say it a few dozen times.  It “rolls” off the tongue so nicely.  The gun went off.  
Yeah, I didn’t mean to shoot him.  So the police pulled sixty slugs out of his chest.  Well sure, I had to reload a couple dozen times.  But the gun, you know, it just, well, it went off!
People seem to forget that in every one of these cases, someone’s finger was on the trigger.  Funny how the media never says “His finger went off.”
 Or maybe they should say, “His finger went on.”
 Either way, I guess it just doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely.
In 2002, Jayson Williams, a Philadelphia 76er basketball player, accidentally killed his limousine driver.  Jayson was “playing with a shotgun” and as he flipped the gun up to close it (with his finger on the trigger), the gun - well, you know.
Now, maybe guns are in fact innocent bystanders, but mouths certainly can and do just “go off.”  I’ve heard plenty from politicians running for office this year shooting their mouths off.  Some of them are shooting blanks.  
Some are shooting dumdums.  And yet others shoot incendiary, slugs, or hollow points.
Yes, lots of mouths going off.  And usually half cocked.  
Not to bite the bullet here, but I do wish they’d stop every now and then, if only to reload.
 John Pawlak
 Los Alamos Columnist