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September 17, 2004

the gun shop.

ruby posted about the gun shop

since this is the second time this has come up, and since my blog has been devoted to a lot of starlite stuff lately, i've decided to go on record with my position on this in my blog, rather than just posting a comment to ruby's blog.

first, it really is rather insulting for anyone to assume that the save our starlite folks have not "thought critically" about the gun shop. i made my peace with the gun shop long ago, back in the mid-90's when i ran my first WXDU fundraiser out there. it's not my favorite thing about the starlite, but it honestly doesn't bother me that much.

i think it's also important to clarify the financial relationship between the gun shop and the theater. i haven't asked bob about this because honestly, i don't care that much, but i am certain that the gun shop subsidizes the starlite-- as does the video store and the flea market. the theater doesn't make enough money to support itself just by showing films, so he uses the facility for other businesses.

so at worst, the two have a symbiotic relationship-- the starlite provides the facility for the gun shop, the gun shop helps pay bob's living. however, i think it's more likely that the gun shop subsidizes the starlite and makes it possible for bob to keep showing films there.

so that means that letting the starlite slip away into oblivion won't necessarily also cause the gun shop to go away... but getting rid of the gun shop probably means that the starlite will go away.

so... by helping to rebuild the screen at the starlite, i am not affecting the gun shop one way or another. i'm not "supporting this drive-in/gun shop" because combining the two in that way is disingenuous and misleading. i'm not helping to keep the gun shop in business, because it would stick around even if the starlite screen were never rebuilt. i'm definitely not subsidizing the gun shop, which is how one person put it to me in an e-mail several days ago.


i first moved to old north durham about 10 years ago. i was a renter. gunshots were a regular part of life-- at least weekly i'd hear a few rounds go off, then a car go rushing past on mangum st.

after a while, the gunshots started to go away. now they are almost never heard. five years ago, i bought a house in OND. i love that neighborhood very much. it makes me thrilled to the core to see derelict houses being restored, to see that the reports of murders on 300 Trinity have dwindled to nothing. to see that the neighborhood can come together to make that block a better place for the people who live there-- most of whom are renters.

a couple of years ago, i finally heard the story of the gunfire in OND and how it went away.

there was a small block of apartments near my place on lynch st that were occupied by drug dealers. the gunfire was centered around those apartments. a group of OND residents banded together, bought the apartments, evicted the tenants, renovated the apartments, and now i believe they are usually occupied by TROSA guys. the gunfire went away.

essentially the same thing happened on 300 Trinity. the landlord was threatened with having his property taken away because of neglect. he's cleaned up his act. the neighborhood also went in and put in permanent plantings with stone surrounds, and had the city take action to get people parking on the street instead of on the grass (which is really just compacted dirt at this point). things have really improved-- and by things, i mean that people don't get shot on that block every other month the way they used to.

so the point i am making at great length here is that the solution to gun violence is not to shut down a tiny gun shop out in east durham. ond residents didn't approach our problems by shutting down one gun shop, or all the gun shops in the vicinity of ond, because it wouldn't have done a damn bit of good! we still would have had just as many guns in our neighborhood, just as many people dying from gun violence.


i went to a quaker college for two years, and the experience solidified my position as a pacifist.

i have held fast to this position, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 when the word "revenge" was on the lips of half of america. i reconnected with old guilford friends at that time just because we all needed to be in touch with other people who believed in nonviolence.

when i first met ray ubinger, who is a libertarian, and who is a great believer in the right to bear arms, i vehemently disagreed with the notion that, in our modern world, an arm-bearing populace would ever be require to ensure liberty in this country.

as of the last two years, i'm not so sure about that. particularly now that tom ridge pops up in the news from time to time saying that the terrorists may want to disrupt our election-- so therefore he'd better be ready to postpone it!-- i'm extremely wary of this administration in a way i've never been about our government before. i think the libertarians may not be crackpots after all.

i think the possibility exists that an armed revolution might be needed in this country, even in this modern world, because our checks and balances aren't checking and balancing any more, and i see a risk of our right to vote being removed under the guise of keeping us "safe".

would i participate in such a revolution? i don't know. i don't honestly know if i could bear an arm against a fellow human being. i might not. i might be a pacifist so deep through that i could not. but i would sure as hell want those who are able to do so, to do so, should such a need arise.

my belief that we still require a constitutional right to bear arms has evolved. i think that's still a good thing to have in the constitution, and therefore, i do want it to be legal to sell arms.

Posted by lisa at September 17, 2004 09:53 AM | TrackBack


thanks for posting this. much more eloquent than anything i've been able to formulate (as available evidence readily indicates)

Posted by: georg on September 17, 2004 11:10 AM

well said.

Posted by: dave on September 17, 2004 12:28 PM

I'm so glad to see someone else who doesn't equate right to bear arms with mowing down helpless deer. Thank you. There might be hope for us all yet.

Posted by: kickaha on September 17, 2004 01:24 PM

thanks. yes, i have found that it's possible to get my arms around shades of gray in my personal philosophy. :)

Posted by: lisa on September 17, 2004 01:52 PM

it's a tough issue. i wish there were no need for guns. but seeing we don't live in utopia, i suppose there is a need for them. at least in this country, where everyone is so angry. sometimes i wonder how we all hold it together at all.

anyway, here's a link to ray ubinger's website, in case anyone has any interest in finding out more about him. he's running for office in november.


Posted by: christa on September 17, 2004 02:27 PM

[lisa]i think it's also important to clarify the financial relationship between the gun shop and the theater. i haven't asked bob about this because honestly, i don't care that much, but i am certain that the gun shop subsidizes the starlite-- as does the video store and the flea market. the theater doesn't make enough money to support itself just by showing films, so he uses the facility for other businesses[/lisa]

Lisa, this statement doesn't make sense to me. First you say it's important to clarify the relationship, but then you say you don't care that much. Why are you so "certain" of the finances when you have made a point of not asking about it?

Posted by: Ruby Sinreich on September 17, 2004 05:51 PM

Ruby, it's a fact - the gun shop subsidizes the cool drive-in.(*) This, of course, means that anyone who has ever had a great time at the Starlite owes the experience to profits from gun sales, as well as video rentals. But mainly gun sales. Funny, no one's complained about it before. I think it's absurd for folks, like those who wrote in to the Indy this week, to be claiming their donations now entitle them to run the business. Puh-lease. Their conditions would ruin the business.

(*)See this short article in the April 2002 issue of Inc. Magazine for proof:

Posted by: Todd Morman on September 17, 2004 09:51 PM

Lisa, this was a great post. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Christa, I agree that gun availability is a thorny issue, but I think the Starlite is easy. Supporting the Starlite doesn't support their gun shop, since the theater doesn't fund the gun shop, rather the other way around. (Ruby, I believe the Herald-Sun established this in the articles they ran right after the fire, but unfortunately the links are now dead.) Even if it did, as Lisa said, closing one small independant gun shop would do nothing to reduce gun violence. So I don't think there's much of any ethical dilemma here as far as the drive-in is concerned.

That said, I don't have an ethical dilemma anyway because I love the gun shop. I think it's great that we have a drive in theater with a gun shop in the snack bar. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Posted by: Sarah on September 17, 2004 09:59 PM

if you're not satisfied with the level of information i've provided, seek your own. i'm satisfied with the level of knowlege i have, but if you're not, get the information you need another way.

anyone who wants to be certain that money they donate goes to the screen should use the "donate plywood" button we've got on the site. also, the first $8k we get outside of the plywood money will go toward the telephone poles and their installation. so donating early in the game means your money will definitely go toward the screen because that's our first priority. funds collected later might go to things specific to screening films (like a marquee), or they might go toward improving the facility overall. i haven't asked carla to give me a breakdown on their priorities, because everyone is focused on rebuilding the screen right now and that's pretty much the ONLY priority for us.

again, i'm satisified with the level of information i've sought. if you're not-- seek your own.

Posted by: spacegrrl on September 17, 2004 10:35 PM

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ok, so a) your comment won't post right away because i have to approve it first and b) you might get a server error but your comment probably posted anyway and c) previewing doesn't work so i've removed the preview button.


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