Someone tagged me on Facebook with an article from the libertarian web blog the jack news. The piece was written by former presidential candidate Gary Johnson. It was advice on how to have a “proper” conversation on guns after the latest massacre. The phrase that bothered me the most was “after an appropriate time of mourning and respect…” My question is when is that going to be, after the next murder, the next, the one after that?
I understand that people want to own guns. To me it is no different than someone wanting to own a car, fertilizer for their gardens, an airplane. The difference is that these items have specific restrictions, and some strict protocols to try to ensure safe use. All three have also been used to kill people.
We’ve changed safety protocols, regulations and restrictions to what we can take on a plane, how medicine is packaged and distributed, how roads and bridges are designed, that cars not only must contain safety belts but must be worn, and with many other things that we use every day. The reasons are always the same, to minimize potential harm. What is distressing is that the opposite seems to be happening with gun ownership, with more powerful guns being more easily accessible, with less restrictions, despite clear evidence that there is a history the danger of owning these devices.
So i have to ask, just when is the right time to have a discussion and seek solutions about responsible gun ownership, and the lives such ownership impacts the people around them on a daily basis?
After an appropriate time of mourning? When people are murdered or injured every single day? When a woman is at most risk of being shot to death by an spouse or lover when she tries to escape an abusive relationship? South Carolina ranks at the top of the nation for that, and one woman died that way, in another city the night of the loss Vegas massacre.
What about after a child is killed because they inadvertently come into contact with a parent or grandparent’s gun, or a family member being mistaken for a thief when coming into the house? What about when an altercation between friends breaks out and someone shoots another in anger? All of these are the more common deaths involving guns
This should have been settled after Columbine as we recoiled from the horror of two teenagers killing their classmates using the guns taken from the boys parent’s homes. We should have said, this will not be accepted, and we cannot allow this to continue. We should have demanded a change to the amendment right there clarifying that gun ownership, although a right did not negate the right to live free from the danger they present. We should have strengthened the Brady bill, made ownership of firearms a responsibility the part of the owner, restricting how they were sold a distributed and enacted licensing protocols, much like car ownership. We should have told the NRA to take a flying fuck for daring to use human tragedy for profit, bribery and extortion in it’s quest for power. We should have told all the preachers and Pundits to stuff it for daring to claim that the deaths and injuries from the use of guns are “god’s will” or the result of living in a “godless nation” and making the tragedy after tragedy an excuse to use race, religion or culture as an excuse for why people kill one another, completely Ignoring the victims.
America has turned turned gun ownership into a religion and the second amendment as it’s religious text, claiming it’s our God given right to own and use guns, and demanding everyone convert to the faith. We often hear the liturgical cries of, “if we restrict guns, then only criminals will have them”, “I need this gun for protection”, when there is nothing to support these claims.
Meanwhile mass shootings are more common than ever, most not as horrific as the latest one, which will not be as horrific as one in the future. Most mass shootings involve a handful of victims, but they don’t give talking points for the NRA and don’t help firearm sales, so they are largely ignored.
The time for talking about this issue is now, every day. We need to respect both those who want to own guns, and those who want reduce the risk of harm that people owning guns can represent. There are solutions, which gun owners will not like, and those of us who want less death and injuries because of the presence of guns will not find enough. But we have to do something, before the next toddler reaches into her grandma’s purse for candy and finds death instead, or a woman estranged from her spouse is killed outside her children’s dentist office, or another person decides to kill as many as he can for whatever perverse reason he concludes is right.
People want to say that guns are not the problem. They would be correct. Guns, however, are a major symptom. People believe that they are entitled to own them, which points to the root cause. What blows my mind is when people demand the right to own guns, while ignoring the right of others to live free of an environment awash with guns, to vote, to choose who they marry, how they manage their reproductive health, whether or not they choose to partake in political rituals, whether they want to be subjected to religious rituals on schools and government settings, to live in this nation at all, to have access to quality affordable healthcare, to have a living wage.
The causes of the obsession with guns are entitlement, pride, selfishness, fear or to put it more simply tribalism 101.
i am not going to stop talking and suggesting solutions to the damage done when guns are the tools used to cause disaster, on purpose or by accident. I just want discussions to turn to solid results so that deaths and injuries as the results of someone’s gun are prevented. Meanwhile the rest of the world watches us in sorrow and wonder, hoping we come to our senses, and take similar steps as they did to end the madness. Unfortunately, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.