For those of us foolish enough to live in a crime-gripped city that summarily denies our constitutional right to protect ourselves, this week's massacre at the Washington Navy Yard pretty well sums up our insane, defenseless existence.
Our Capitol Hill neighborhood drowned in the screams of sirens as police cars, vans, trucks and armored vehicles streaked through the narrow streets at deadly speeds. The skies filled with the constant whopping of countless helicopters.
Just back from dropping off children at school, neighbors began frantically calling, texting and emailing one another to see what was wrong. The crisp morning reminded many of Sept. 11, 2001.
Police dispatched text and email alerts to residents that there was an "active shooter" at the nearby Navy Yard, just blocks from where our children play Little League Baseball. Many were dead and more injured, we were told.
Then the terrifying news: As many as two more shooters were on the loose and being sought.
D.C. police concluded their advisory to residents with the same all-capital-letters admonition that punctuates every crime alert: "Do not take action." Instead, we are given an "event" number and instructed to call 911.
As any decent American knows, there is no feeling more powerless than to realize that a couple of mass murderers are loose in your neighborhood and you are denied the right to keep a gun to defend yourself, your family or your home. A sickening knot tightens in your gut.
"Do not take action."
Then came the latest Orwellian phrase in the "homeland security" lexicon: "Shelter in place!" So, not only are you not allowed to defend yourself against mass murderers, you are not supposed to run from them, either.
This, my fellow countrymen, is pure insanity.
And all the terror and real bloody carnage took place inside the most impenetrable fortress of gun-control utopia.
The very guns Aaron Alexis used to kill 12 people are banned in this city, unless you submit to an exhaustive, invasive and expensive process and prove to the city bureaucracy that you are worthy of your Second Amendment rights. Clearly, that failed.
We now know that Alexis was run through the normal background checks already in place to purchase a gun from a gun dealer. He submitted to even more exhaustive background checks to get his job and access to the Navy Yard. All of those background checks, and he still massacred 12 people.
We also now know that Alexis had multiple run-ins with police in various states and was accused of committing numerous gun crimes, including firing a gun into his neighbor's occupied apartment and blasting the tires off of a car in a fit of rage. In those cases, existing laws were already in place to nab the lunatic and strip him of his gun rights. For whatever reason, these laws that should have flagged him as a dangerous criminal were not enforced.
So here we are with 12 good people dead, living in the land of gun control, where terrorism reigns because the criminals have guns and the rest of us are scolded: "Do not take action" and "Shelter in place."
The great cartoon philosopher Gary Larson once drew a panel of what he imagined a boneless chicken ranch might look like. Already flightless, the limp birds lay all about unable to even raise their heads with their legs splayed out in ridiculous fashion.
That is what we are here. Flightless and defenseless. As a cartoon about boneless chickens, it is hilarious. As a way of life, it is terrifying.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.