Let’s Talk About it Now. Because Now is the Time.

Since the internet allows everyone to post whatever they like without facts and actual data, I would like to post my own bit of conjecture in response to a private message I received regarding a post I made on Facebook. A message that led, ultimately, to someone getting very upset with me because my opinion did not agree with theirs (never mind they inquired about my opinion privately). So, do I think that the gun I posted a picture of is responsible for the death of all those people today?  No. Obviously the gun did not walk into a school and cause the tragedy at hand, a deranged and mentally ill person wielding that gun did.  So why would I post the gun and comment on the 2nd amendment? Because had that individual walked in with a hunting knife and a bat 26 people would not be dead.

In fact, today in China there was a mass attack on children at a school very similar to the one we saw in our on country.  22 children and one adult were attacked.  22 children and one adult were wounded.  Wounded, not killed.  Wounded because the attacker had a knife, not a semi-automatic rifle.  22 children and one adult in China will live to see tomorrow.  26 people (at current count) in the United States are dead today because their attacker had a semi-automatic rifle.

Do I believe had there not been gaps between state and federal gun laws in Virginia in 2007 that perhaps 32 people  would not have died because the gunman would have been flagged AS HE SHOULD HAVE as being mentally incompetent and therefore deemed unable to purchase the guns he purchased “legally?”  Yes.  I also believe if he’d had throwing knives instead of guns, 32 people would not have died.

Do I think people shouldn’t be allowed to have any guns?  No.  I think you should be allowed to have a gun for personal safety and/or hunting if you so desire. Although, I’ll pose the same question I’ve posed to people who have them – what is the REAL likelihood you will be able to get to your gun, get it out of the case, load it, and disengage the safety in enough time to protect yourself from the “bad guy” who has broken into your home with the intent to do you harm?  (If your answer is you do not store your gun in this manner – locked up, unloaded, and with an on-weapon safety engaged-  then you are an irresponsible gun owner – even in the eyes of the NRA.  If you have children or children who EVER visit your home and you do not store your gun this way, irresponsible doesn’t even begin to cover it).

Do I think there is something to be said about the fact that the US of A ranks fourth in the world so far as gun-violence?  Yes.  Do I find it interesting that countries who have much stricter laws (and enforcement of the laws) have statistical data showing they have gun-homicide rates for their entire country that are lower than the number of gun-homicides in Oakland, California alone?

Do I believe GUNS kill people?  Yes. Guns very clearly kill people, though obviously they don’t do it alone.  When they are wielded by mentally unstable individuals, or criminals, or people who are in a blind rage/state of passion, or people who don’t know how to handle them properly.  If you don’t want to regulate guns because guns don’t kill people, well, why stop there?  Let’s take that conjecture, the idea that GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE and take it one step further.  Let’s just do away with all regulation and let everyone have whatever weapons they choose.  After all, bombs don’t kill people, people with bombs kill people.  Nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people who use them kill people. Weapons of Mass Destruction don’t kill people, deranged people use them to kill people.

Do I find it absolutely disgusting that on the same day this terrible tragedy happened you could find an article by the President of the NRA on a news website touting the biggest success of his organization and 2nd amendment supporters this year was how now people “think guns are cool?”  Yes.  And it should disgust you, too.  Regardless of what your stance surrounding this issue is.

Maybe we should take a look at the fact that this country is one of the very few where citizens can purchase the same level of tactical gear as our police forces wear.  Or that people like James Holmes are able to legal obtain 4 guns, tactical gear, and over 6000 rounds of ammunition (and yes, I know that number may sound a lot more shocking than the reality) in a matter of months.  He spent over $15,000 preparing his cache.  He had over 90 packages delivered to him.  He bought all that ammunition and tactical gear legally over the internet. All in a matter of months. And nobody even said boo.

Maybe the trade off to having your guns is to concede to allowing the government to track a few things in our lives. Like the purchase of ammunition.  Or tactical gear.  Or the sudden stockpiling of weapons and things of the like.  Oh, I know, keep the government out of our business!  Well, amazon tracks your purchases.  Your supermarket tracks your purchases.  Facebook tracks your likes. Most websites and browsers track the sites you look at.  If you think you aren’t being tracked already, you live in a fantasy bubble.

Don’t think that tracking ammunition will do any good?  Think again.  “Law enforcement in Sacramento and Los Angeles successfully used local ammunition recordkeeping ordinances to identify and prosecute felons who purchased ammunition. Between January 16 and December 31, 2008, the Sacramento ordinance led to the identification of 156 prohibited persons who had purchased ammunition, 124 of whom had prior felony convictions, 48 search warrants and 26 additional probation or parole searches. In addition, the ordinance led to 109 felony charges, 10 federal court indictments, 37 felony convictions and 17 misdemeanor convictions. The ordinance allowed law enforcement to seize a total of 84 firearms, including seven assault weapons, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.” [http://smartgunlaws.org]

Maybe we should look at the way the media sensationalizes these types of shootings. I know the names of many of the murderers who committed these horrific crimes. I know their faces. I know a lot about them. They are forever burned in my memory.  But I don’t remember many of the victim’s names or faces.  Maybe that’s something in me. Or maybe it’s the way the media portrays these events. The way they are plastered on every television, newspaper, radio program in existence.  While the killers are not “glorified,” they are certainly made famous and declared notorious, and maybe that’s almost as bad.

Meanwhile, maybe we should also look at addressing the problem of mental illness in this country.

The average handgun costs between $200-500 dollars. The guns used in the type of shootings we see so often here can cost around $2000.  And mental health services?

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Maybe we can’t agree that some guns are just unnecessary. Maybe we can’t agree that people shouldn’t be able to buy law enforcement grade “protective” gear.  Oh and I know people will be “up in arms” about any suggestion to track anything, god forbid we give up a tiny bit of ourselves for the greater good.  But maybe we should urge our politicians to take a look at this problem our country faces and to make this type of health care more affordable.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is many of the same people who want to lessen our gun control laws and make it easier to put guns in the hands of the people are the very same people who wish to do away with our social programs – programs that will allow mentally ill people access to treatment they may need.  Affordable treatment.

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