Before I get too far into my opinions, I would like to make a couple of things very clear. I am going to be as fair as humanly possible in this post. I am not going to get crazy, and blame all of our problems on the NRA, or attack gun owners. So please take the time to read through the whole blog and I would love to hear what you think in the comments section. I think we can make a big difference if we have mature dialog. I am not an expert, and either are most of you. For one second, I wish we could all just keep an open mind.
Times they are a changin’…. As all of you know by now, there was a horrific tradgedy that happened on Friday morning. Beautiful innocent lives were taken too soon by a monster who carried a gun. When I heard the news, I immediately posted something on Facebook about how the conversation had to begin on gun control. Some people took issue with my comment saying that it was too soon to start this conversation. I saw other people post things about keeping your politics to yourselves in respect for the fallen. I, respectfully, disagree. I don’t think it is too soon to have the conversation, I think it is too late! And, I don’t think that speaking up in this way is in any way disrespectful. It is thru my outrage and sadness at their unnecessary deaths that urges me to speak. Below I am going to lay out some ideas and I hope you consider them.
We (of course) need better mental health care in the United States. Medical experts have been saying this for years. We can replace your joints with lasers and kill your viruses from space, but our mental health care for majority of our citizens is stuck in the dark ages. We need to invest more of our time, money, and research in identifying these troubled individuals and helping them before tragedy happens. We also need to de-stigmatize mental health disorders and educate parents on what to look for in their children. Unfortunately, people with mental health disorders do not hold down stable jobs with insurance and see a doctor regularly. This point alone is a whole other post, but I think you get what I am saying.
We need to completely re-think guns and gun control. Now, I am not saying we need to get rid of guns completely. I don’t think that is the answer. I have seen a thousand posts and memes and status updates on how ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. No shit. Obviously, it is people that kill people. The point I would like to make is that it shouldn’t be EASY. It should not be easy to take out 30 people in a school, mall, movie theater, etc. I know that you can kill people with knives, with baseball bats, and with your bare hands. But, it is a heck of lot harder! There was a horrible story out of China too, where a man went into a school with a knife. The difference is that those children didn’t die. It’s horrible, it’s sad, it’s traumatic, it’s unthinkable, but those kids got to go home to their parents.
Let’s think about the right to bear arms. When this was written, automatic weapons didn’t exist. There is no way our fore-fathers could have known how our world was going to change. And, a lot of our thoughts have changed with the times. We evolved on slavery and women’s right and hopefully soon marriage equality. I don’t believe that a right to bear arms means that you have a right to automatic weapons and as many guns as you want.
Why don’t we make less deadly guns? Why don’t we make only guns that shoot 2 rounds a time and it takes a minute to reload? Let’s think about why we ‘want’ guns.
1. To protect your family/property. I get that. If you want to have a gun in your home to protect you from crime, great. You do not need an automatic weapon for that. Two rounds and reload. (That burglar now has to hope that you are a bad shot).
2. Hunting. Great. I know that this is a huge hobby and lifestyle for many people. If you want a hunting rifle, go for it. Two rounds and reload.
3. Sport. Some people enjoy shooting guns. I don’t really get this one, but I respect that. Two rounds and reload.
4. Collections. If you are a gun collector, it really should not matter how many rounds you can get off.
Those are the only legit, non-violent reasons to want a gun. Did I miss anything?
Regulation! This goes without saying. We need to enforce the laws that we have and then some. You shouldn’t be able to buy any ammunition without a gun license that matches the bullets you are trying to buy and show a photo ID. If your gun is stolen and you had it ‘under your mattress’ or some other easy to access place, you should be penalized (i.e. a kid taking his dad/moms gun). If you want more than one gun, you should have to wait one year between each purchase and have to pass a psychological evaluation every time! I could go on and on. Again, though, the argument I am trying to make is that it shouldn’t be easy.
So, what about the argument that making these guns illegal is not going to work. I saw the argument on-line that it’s not working with drugs, so why would it work with guns. Well, there are about 700 reasons why these two things can’t really be compared, but I’ll name a few. I can grow a pot plant in my house, or make meth, but I can’t make guns. Guns are a lot harder to manufacture. Drugs can’t be detected with metal detectors. You can’t smuggle guns into the country by putting them up your butt. Okay, I’m being a little sarcastic there, but trying to make a point. Of course there will be a black market for these weapons. There is ALWAYS a black market! But the average 16-year-old kid that snaps and wants to shoot up his school probably doesn’t have a lot of black market gun contacts.
Another thing that I saw all over the internet this weekend is comments about ‘if only god were allowed in our schools’. I take huge issue with this! Yes, if only that shooter had been exposed to more god, maybe he wouldn’t have done what he did. It didn’t work with in the actual church with people that had dedicated their life to god. If ‘crazy’ can happen to a priest, it can happen to anyone and has nothing to do with prayer. I don’t want to make this a religious argument, but don’t blame a lack of prayer/worship in our schools as the reason this happened. If this had anything to do with god, I would be more concerned with how he let this happen. It wasn’t gods fault, it wasn’t ‘not-gods’ fault. It just happened and it sucks.
More guns? ‘If more people were armed, people would be afraid to break the law….’ Are we going to start arming our children in schools? The teachers? More weapons doesn’t work for school shootings. Not to mention, getting shot is not a very big deterrent for someone who plans on killing themselves anyway.
Security? People argue that we just simply need more security at our schools. Well, you’re probably right. We do need better security. But, what about when they are out on the playground? Are we going to get rid of recess? Are we going to close public parks, libraries, etc. We can’t possibly tighten security of planet earth.
Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough. I was going to go into gun buy-back programs and penalties for carrying illegal weapons, etc. but I’m sure you’re sick of reading.
Something has to change and the time is now! I saw something on-line that said there have been 30 school shootings since Columbine. We should be ashamed of ourselves! Our selfishness, our politics, and our stubborn outdated beliefs are preventing meaningful change. We need to get over ourselves and what we think we are entitled to. Unfortunately, we are never going to get rid of crazy, we are never going to get rid of violence, but I firmly believe, if we work together on a compromise, we can make it harder to take innocent lives.