So we’re all still reeling from what happened in Newtown, CT. Or, I know I am. I wanted to hug every child I passed on the street just to know they were safe, even though I was a stranger to them. All of my friends who have children live out of state, so I have no children to hug. This, of course, would just be to make myself feel better.
I’m not here to proselytize. I’m not here to court your opinion on gun control. I’m not here to argue. This is a statement of my own personal reflections on guns. My reflection on the tragic state of our (lack of) mental health system will be completely separate, though the problems do, unfortunately and frequently, feed off one another.
Guns. Oh, guns. Our love/hate relationship with you has reached a despairing new low. Believe it or not, despite my (very) liberal views on most things, I have no problems with responsible gun ownership. I don’t care if people hunt (as long as it’s not trophy hunting) or if it’s for protection in their own home, or even if it’s just a prop to make you feel better about yourself when you go on a gun range and shoot up a paper target. Whatever. Live and let live…
Ah, but that is the problem, isn’t it? That’s not what’s happening anymore. Not when “mass shootings” happen so often. When I started this post, I could name 4 off the top of my head that happened this year and a simple google search turned up a total of 12 more mass shootings with a total of 88 people dead. This isn’t just a tragedy, it’s an atrocity and a shocking, horrific state of affairs to my mind.
Gun laws as they stand clearly aren’t working. I admit complete and (previously willful) ignorance on the specificity of federal and state guns laws because they just didn’t apply to me. Honestly, I didn’t care. That will no longer be the case for me. I’m not advocating taking anyone’s guns away, but the status quo is not working. Shouldn’t it be a matter of common sense to have a standardized waiting period and background check and not allow felons of any kind to be able to legally buy guns? Shouldn’t federal and state laws match up so that prosecution is fair across the board? Shouldn’t automatic weapons made for war not be available for sale to the public? Because from what little I currently know, none of that’s the case.
I can already hear people protesting, “That won’t make this stop! People will just buy guns illegally!” Sure. They probably will. The only thing we can do about illegal gun sales is, I dunno, crack down on them? Oh wait, maybe we could even make that a priority! *gasp* There’s a concept. Working together regardless of state or federal lines to take guns off the street and keep them out of the hands of people who use them for crimes be it for drugs, to rob someone, or commit (mass) murder.
Maybe I’m not educated enough to understand what the big deal is about having tighter security on who gets to buy guns. I honestly don’t understand why people get so ticked off at even the idea that they have to (god forbid) wait a certain amount of time or pass a background check to buy a gun. Don’t we have to take a test to drive a car? Don’t we have to register to drive a car? Aren’t our pictures taken and a licence needed on our persons at all times to drive a car? Cars, which are nominally, a lot safer than guns, depending on who’s driving them. It’s not a government intrusion into your life to make sure you’re (probably) not going to use a weapon to go out and kill someone. It’s just not. No, there’s no way that we can put everyone through a psych test in order to buy a gun, but there has to at least be criteria in order for someone to own a weapon.
You know, my twitter feed exploded with acrimony about gun rights, mental health, and the second amendment and people just going off on one another because they hold different views about what should and shouldn’t be allowed and how now isn’t the time to have this “discussion.” I don’t understand that, either. This is the time for more than just discussion. When 20 children and 6 adults are murdered, the very least we should be doing is finding a way to make sure it never happens again!
If we don’t work together to fix this then all we’re doing is waiting for the next mass shooting to happen. No more denial. Mass shootings are happening and will continue to do so unless things change. It’s time to put aside the rhetoric and get down to business. There will always be a madman ready to use whatever weapons he/she has available to kill, be it a bomb, a plane or, in this case, legally purchased guns he took from his mother. No. We can’t prepare for everything. We can’t avoid those who are smart enough use the system to perpetrate horrific events like today. Stronger gun laws won’t always work, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them.
We need to make it as difficult as possible for anyone with a history of violence or mental instability to perpetrate anything like what happened in Norcross, Georgia; Jackson, Tennessee; Chardon High School in rural Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; North Miami, Florida; Oikos University in Oakland, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Seattle, Washington; Wilmington, Delaware; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Texas A&M University; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Brookfield, Wisconsin;Portland, Oregon; Aurora,Colorado; and Newtown,Connecticut.
Eighty-eight children, teens, men and women dead this year because of mass shootings. It has to stop. It needs to stop.