It happened again. Just like before. Same as it ever was. And same debate after it happens, and most likely the same thing will happen again, and nothing will change and we will wait for the next one to happen. As a parent, after I heard the news on Friday, I struggled to think what the parents in Sandy Hook could be thinking. The first thing out of my head was this: fuck guns, which I posted to Facebook. Now that I have had a couple of days to dwell on it, my response isn't as pointed, but still remains in the same tone. If you care to keep reading, these are some of my thoughts...
And if you know me, you know me. I have been blogging, tweeting, youtubing, and everything else online for pretty near a decade now, and I can't really think of many times I have used vulgarity online. This is a time that it calls for it. I just can't fathom what happened. The thought of those children and their parents and that town, and we have seen it happen before, and we keep punting the discussion, and all because of these metal objects that shoot metal pellets for one purpose, to kill.
Now you can sit and claim I am politicizing this or that, but I'm not. I am calling it as I see it, and that is my right. You can disagree with me, which I am sure many of you already do, without thinking about the issue, but feel free to write your own response in your own way. I am not politicizing anything. I am humanizing it. Do I usually write about things like this? No. (Well I do, just not in public). Why should I share this? Because I am human. And as a human, I believe we need to stop killing each other, and start figuring out ways to make our society better. One of the ways we could accomplish this is to diminish, reduce or completely eradicate easy ways to kill one another. Guns tops the list (and it is not lost on me, yes, bombs, etc - I am talking person to person here, not country to country, army to army). I am going to do my best to try to stay on topic.
One of the biggest things to remember about the gun debate, is that people like to spin, oh boy do they like to spin. Misdirect. Make the conversation about anything but guns. Try to throw out analogies as fast as they can think of them, to try to move the conversation off of guns, but no, the discussion needs to be about guns, period, I could probably write a dissertation on "How the Pro Gun Lobby Misdirects Discussion" - It is hard to have any conversation without try to quell the misdirection that you know will happen in comments, responses, etc, but over time you learn to see them all, and realize they are all the same.
The comments about how "guns don't kill people, people kill people" and "why don't you just ban baseball bats" (and whatever other irrelevant object you think is analogous to guns) arguments are old hat, old responses. What they fail to address is the actual problem, guns. It is misdirection as a response, and it doesn't work. People with guns kill. Guns have one purpose to exist, to kill. Baseball bats (and every other object used in some misdirected response with "item x"), while can be used to kill, are meant for hitting baseballs or some other non violent purpose. Now I will wait for a response with "knives" or whatever else someone trying to misdirect can come up with, and the answer still is the same. Guns kill, and not just one person, 20-30 lives, and last week, children, in minutes. No other item beyond bombs or items turned into bombs can do that and there is no reason for either to exist - that is an entirely different discussion, quit misdirecting.. Cars is another one that comes up all the time - same thing, quit misdirecting the issue. Guns are the things that consistently kill mass quantities of people in very short times - intentionally.
There is a graph/statistic floating around "compare the big killers in the USA" the Internet saying all the things that kill people and shows firearms as the lowest, and that baseball bats are the #1. The problem is that no one thing walks into a school and kills 20 kids in a minute. As stated earlier here the argument for any other "killer" object is invalid no matter which way you spin it. Wait for the response of "drugs are banned but people still get them!" - yes, but unless I missed something, I don't recall someone killing 20 kids in minutes with illegal drugs they are taking themselves. And talking about drugs being legal or not in a discussion about guns is again, another misdirection. Misdirection is the pillar of the pro-gun debate.
It is a sad day for humanity and our society where we hold the right to own or use killing machines over the right to live without the fear of getting shot by a person wielding an item with no express purpose but to kill as many things as it can in as little amount of time possible. Schools, malls, churches, anywhere, it has happened. Sad that people think their right to own a gun supersedes the right of society to not live with fear of massacre. And to the people that will respond with "give teachers guns" or "more guns" have an even more invalid argument. More of a bad thing does not equal a good thing. And yes, guns are a bad thing, I will repeat again,their sole purpose is to kill. Killing is bad. Yes, it has happened, and will happen, but that doesn't make it good.
Less guns, or better yet no guns means less death from guns or no death from guns. Logic should prevail in these arguments but for the most part logic is blinded by what people think is some god given right to own and bare arms. A civilized and intelligent society would and should see as a whole that, yes, they were wrong about guns, just like they have been wrong about many other things (think: slavery, nuclear bomb use, et al) even though those things are not fully eradicated, most knowledgeable intelligent people in society will agree they shouldn't exist. Every argument about guns goes in circles, but I would hope that "we need to stop massacring each other" would win out, but in this country, we seem to misdirect around it. If guns didn't exist, massacres that were caused by guns would not happen. Period. Advanced civilized societies don't have to ban guns, their citizens give them up voluntarily (e.g.: Japan).
The statistics over the years have shown that a society with less guns will have less gun death and less gun massacre. Hopefully our descendants will look back at this period of time and think to themselves, what were these people thinking? What compelled them to feel the need to own weapons to kill each other with? What was with the people who cared more about not losing their "right" to easily kill their fellow man, woman, and children with some material object, they care more about that then say, making sure everyone has healthcare, or food, or we cure diseases, or whatever is more important than killing your fellow human being with your metal object?
The United States as a society needs to take a long hard look at itself and start to realize that it is not the epitome of a mature society, especially when it comes to guns. At current, many in the rest of the world are shaking their heads in disbelief we have let this "gun thing" go on for as long as it has. They are already past this point in many places, and you can see this readily by looking at statistics. Number of school massacres in the last 20 years worldwide might be a good one to start. I don't believe that the US is any more homicidal than the rest of the world, I just think it is too easy to get the object that makes homicide easier than anything else is much to easy or prevalent in the US.
Now, I am sure there are people that might be looking to respond, and will start quoting the 2nd amendment of the US constitution. Great! Here it is
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"
Now, we can sit and try to interpret the constitution all day. Lawyers and courts do that. Citizens can spout off on it, but really it is what it is. We can try to think about "what the framers" thought or intended. We can also take a look at reality 230+ years later. The debate about originalism and the judicial branch could be an entirely different post. First off, the army was really a band of people back then vs the British army. Our army today, bloated as it is, is the best in the world. Not sure we have to worry about the issue of even having a well regulated militia. And to those that say citizens need arms to fight back against the government, are just kidding themselves. The US Military would pounce on any and all attacks against it from its citizens. Air power, bombs, whatever. Even if we equipped everyone in the country with guns, it would be no match for bombers and tanks. So when you think of it that way, we have already lost the ability to "fight back" against the government (oh I can hear some say, that citizens should have bombs and planes and whatever else - take the argument somewhere else). One piece of the 2nd ammendement that most overlook is this, "Well regulated militia". Regulated. Regulations. We need them. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson, in letters, thought that the constitution should and could be changed over time as society becomes more advanced?
"I am certainly not an advocate for for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Jefferson to H. Tompkinson (AKA Samuel Kercheval), July 12, 1816
Some also say that we should keep and bear arms that were the same as when the amendment was ratified. Again, would make for some interesting times. Still there would be gun deaths. The framers of the constitution, while fine minds, were not able to see into the future. Things can change. Slavery again comes to mind. We need to make better decisions as a society and get past this backwards way of thinking. Just as slavery wasn't right, either is the ability for guns to proliferate into every area of society and be used to kill people watching a movie, or kids at school.
Now, the hunting contingent. Yes, hunting is one valid reason to own a gun. I have hunted many times. But with hunting, hunting with guns - it is not necessarily needed to survive - for food. Our ancestors didn't have guns and they got by. Spears, arrows, traps, they work too. They just aren't as good "killing machines" as guns. We should spend more time making food more readily available to all humans than saying hunting is needed, sorry, it just isn't. If hunting is more important to you than human life taken by guns, then I guess that is where your priorities lie, mine don't.
Protection. Well, yes, you could protect yourself with a gun. You could also protect yourself with a security system. We will never fully get rid of perpetrators that will try to invade your house or mug you on the street. But what if they didn't have guns either? Now, the argument of "if you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns" - not true either, places around the world have already been through these trials.
Mental illness.. There is the story going around the internet "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother", which after reading we all might feel the same, that yes, we need to deal with these mental issues, but that is another topic for another debate. But one thing I found interesting from the post: why did she "round up all the knives/weapons" and "we don't know when he could snap" - sounds like a great argument to round up all guns as we don't know who or when the next will be to "snap"
"But you will never get rid of all guns." Why not? Can we have the will as a society to make it so? There will always be people who try to take the illegal and continue to have it, but if society comes together, I believe that we could make it so. Likely to happen, no. Could it happen? Yes. I think reducing the amount of available weapons down to a very low number would have dramatic effects on gun related incidents, especially massacres at schools and places with many people. It takes a society to want to change as a whole, for the betterment of the society itself, before changes like these can happen. We aren't there yet. Let's regulate things. Make it hard. Jump through more hurdles if need be.
We need to make a change. Of course, we probably won't. Most likely not in my lifetime, which is sad when you think about it. Other countries around the world have made the change. Citizens as a whole in the USA need to take a step back and again wonder why it is we value keeping killing objects readily available and in existence more than the advancement of our country, society and future as a human race. Even pro-gun conservatives are changing their song. If people that have held such strong convictions can change, then there is some hope.
One day we may see the light and stop killing each other with metal objects for the sake of some "right". Until then, these types of massacres will continue to happen, and the viscous cycle repeats itself. Please, take a step back, ponder the society we live in, your neighbors, family, friends, kids, advancement of the human race and our future on this planet. When I do that, I try not to see a future with child massacre by guns, but I can only dream for now.
photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/msciba/376000264/