There isn’t better scenery than a snowy landscape.

Yes, it makes the roads terrible, the air is excruciatingly cold, work always seems to go by slower, there’s the chance the power could go out, shoveling feels like you’re engaging in trench warfare, plans can get cancelled, and your pets ruin the floor simply by walking in from outside. If you’re able to distance yourself from the negative aspects of a snowstorm, then they become a truly beautiful thing….until the power goes out. I had to put my foot down on that one. That’s the worst. I hope the world doesn’t end in my lifetime. If the globe’s power goes out, I’ll immediately start eating my own arms off.

But, I find the snow, for the most part, unifying. It’s becoming one with nature all over again. Having grown up surrounded by trees, I’ll tell you that’s very easy to forget that they are there when it is nice outside. The forest just blends into the background and there’s no point of trying to separate the woods from the void since it IS the void. Nothing ever changes in the woods.

When it snows, though, the outlines become more defined. The depth gets depth-ier. It’s like a new forest was planted on your property over night. I’ve never done acid, but I sincerely hope dropping it feels like a snowfall in your own personal brain forest.

Nature and understanding nature is a pretty dominant theme in the ‘Shire (that’s short for New Hampshire, long for N.H., and it’s sort of from Lord of the Rings). Since the ‘Shire is one of only four states that has trees in the first place, we take a strong sense of pride in being at least somewhat familiar with the outdoors. For some people, that means being into guns.

Guns are popular with folks who like to spend a lot of time outside. Strangely enough, guns are also popular with people who refuse to step outside of their underground bunkers. New Hampshire has a lot of “Free Staters,” which are a group of psuedo-Libertarian minded folks who likely traded any semblance of tact or empathy they might have had for people other than themselves at one point in their lives, for a cache of weapons, a reinforced concrete barrack, and a “NOBAMA” bumper sticker. What am I trying to say is that New Hampshire has gun owners of all sizes, shapes, and political affiliations. The only uniformity in New Hampshire gun owners one can find is that nearly all of these people are white. Like snow!

To further my point in the Granite State’s widespread gun consumption…Yesterday, as I was coming back from the gym, I saw, as my friend Connor puts it, a, “God damned Samsquatch [siHILARIOUSc].” I was stuck behind a Toyota Prius (the hack writer and unoriginal comic’s perfect encapsulation of what a stereotypical hippie drives) that was adorned with several Tea Party/Free State/NRA related bumper stickers. It brought a tear to my eye. I never thought I’d be able to find a counterpart to my Hummer H2 plastered with Kucinich ’08 paraphernalia.

New Hampshire: We’ve got guns everywhere. They are omnipresent. One of the roads near my house has two gun stores on it within a mile of each other. This isn’t uncommon in other parts of the country, but this particular area isn’t exactly heavily populated. There are two guns stores in close proximity to each other since the economy that Hooksett, New Hampshire operates under is a “need-based” system. People like dem gunz up hurr.

So as you probably can tell, I am not the biggest fan or advocate of guns. This wasn’t always the case, though. Once upon a time, I wrote a pretty scathing piece directed at the University of New Hampshire’s “Young Democrats” club. I, at the time, felt that strict form of gun control would be counter-productive in regards to the safety our state. Gun control laws wouldn’t matter to criminals, just to law-abiding citizens who would now have a tougher time getting strapped. I was a “pro-gun” liberal. Not exactly a white elk in these parts, but different enough from a “mainstream” democrat.

But over time, I broke. I couldn’t deal with gun aficionados anymore. I now hate guns. I now want the powers that be to put forward intelligent programs and barriers that are actually within the realm of possibility of implementation in order to curb our RIDICULOUSLY high levels of gun violence.

While the Newtown shooting certainly didn’t help matters, my mind was finally made up for various reasons and thoughts.  In no particular order, here they are:

– Ever since I watched the Michael Moore doc Bowling For Columbine, I’ve been aware of the NRA’s tendency to hold big pro-gun rallies in or around towns where tragedies happen almost immediately after they happen. How can one of the biggest associations in the entire country all be so callous and heartless?

– Why aren’t we getting a TOTAL consensus on universal background checks? I know that most polls conducted are coming back with OVERWHELMING support for it, and we probably couldn’t even get 100% support from all Americans on any poll, even if it’s a question along the lines of ‘do you like Jesus or pizza?,’ since we are fairly divided these days , but I don’t get how some people are categorically against any sort of step that makes gun buying the slightest bit more difficult even if the step makes the society that we ALL live in safer. I see this categorical rejection on display pretty often when I’m at work. People come into my store and talk about how we “already have universal background checks” and “we’re adding legislation for no reason.” That’s all bullshit. While there hasn’t been any recent work on this subject, it’s been estimated that 40% of all gun purchases in America are done without background checks.  This is done by making on-line purchases and going to gun shows. I should also point out that the last survey the Brady Campaign did about this sort of thing was back in the late-90s, before internet gun purchases skyrocketed. It’s very possible that more than 40% of all gun purchases are done without a background check. Anyone who thinks that universal back ground checks are already in place is misinformed, and probably on purpose in order to make them feel like their own arguments actually have clout.

– Gun culture is terrible. Being an NRA/gun nut is a step above being a Juggalo.

– People who carry guns on their person when they are walking around in New Hampshire….why does that happen? When was the last time you were mugged in fucking New Hampshire? Hiking the Presidential Range? While getting the mail? At Canobie Lake Park? Where are people getting mugged? It’s silly. A gun in the home of a responsible owner is TOTALLY different, and I have no problem with that…assuming they went through the proper channels of course.

– I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would want/need an assault rifle. The only one I can muster up after a serious brainstorming session involving coffee and listening to orchestral post-rock is that some dudes wish that they could hang serious dong. Sadly, they are unequipped to do so. So, they get a big gun instead.

I’ll leave this entry where it is after saying “hang serious dong.” I can’t top that. I’ll just point out that in the two months since Newtown, there have been just under 2,000 homicides committed by firearms in the United States.

Can’t we just work out our differences over a snowball fight? There will be hot cocoa served after…for unifying purposes.