SHOE FETISH COLLEGE PROFESSORS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE ~ HA HA HA
Chris Pyle and Community
Take Aim at Handgun Violence
Professor of Politics Christopher Pyle is leading the campus effort to rally support for a silent march against handguns. He aims to collect 5,000 pairs of shoes, one pair to represent each American under age twenty killed by handgun violence in a single year.
Students used to hearing Professor of Politics Christopher H. Pyle criticize "the politics of easy gestures" were not surprised in March when he challenged them, along with faculty and staff, to take a stand against what he believes is the excessive manufacture of guns in the United States.
Pyle has not only asked the community to join in a "silent march" against gun violence in Springfield on May 2, but he has also sought its help in collecting 5,000 pairs of shoes to symbolize the number of children killed by firearms last year. The shoes will be set up in front of Smith & Wesson's gun manufacturing plant in Springfield on May 2 to encourage that company, in Pyle's words, "to make fewer lethal weapons and more golf clubs." Smith & Wesson is the world's largest maker of handguns.
American companies make approximately 1.8 million new handguns each year, on top of the 50 million already in circulation. Pyle sees no need for so many handguns, or for the one million assault rifles that gun dealers tried to import this year. "One million assault rifles," Pyle has computed, "would arm sixty-nine divisions of infantry, or four times more people than we had under arms in Vietnam." Each year approximately 35,000 Americans are killed by guns, according to the National Center for Disease Control.
The purpose of the silent march, Pyle says, is not to deprive sportsmen of their pleasures, or persons in need of self-protection. But "there is no need for Smith & Wesson to market little 'LadySmith' revolvers to suburban women, or for other companies to make cheap 'Saturday night specials,' cop-killer bullets, guns machined to accept silencers, pistols with fingerprintless coatings, or guns with names like 'streetsweeper" Pyle argues.
Boxes in the dormitories are overflowing with donated shoes, from worn-out ballet slippers to pristine Birkenstocks. Contributors have been asked to include a note, poem, or other remembrance of gun victims they have known. One pair of sneakers, given by Assistant to the Dean of the College Nancy Larson, belonged to her son Dan, who was murdered with a handgun in 1991. Rolled inside one of his sneakers is a memory book published in Dan's memory by family and friends. "The pictures alone speak volumes in terms of Dan's love of life and the impact he had on everyone with whom he came in contact," Larson said.
The silent march and shoe display in Springfield is one of seven being organized outside of gun plants by Americans Against Gun Violence and its founder, Tina Johnstone. Pyle met Johnstone in 1997 when, as a member of the awards committee of the Petra Foundation, he helped select her for one of that foundation's "unsung hero" awards. Pyle is now helping Johnstone raise money for a lawsuit against gun makers modeled on the successful tobacco litigation.
Members of the community interested in helping with the march, contributing to the litigation fund, or obtaining transportation to Springfield on May 2 are encouraged to contact Pyle.