We don’t have guns in our home and never will. I have never wanted to be a hunter. I don’t mind if other people are shooting Bambi in the woods, since we do have a major deer over-population problem in our area, but I seriously doubt that I could ever pull the trigger to kill an animal in the woods, unless it was a bear about to attack. Deer, rabbits, pheasant, and turkey all look pretty innocent to me and shooting one of them would be far out of my comfort zone. Target shooting was never very appealing. I tried it many, many years ago with a long-since-gone guy I was seeing at the time. He wasn’t for me and neither was the target shooting.
But honestly, those are the only two reasons I can think of that people should use a gun: hunting and target shooting, unless they are in law enforcement or the military and are protecting a community or country. The reality is that even the military has found more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction now and the old hand-to-hand combat, boots on the ground and weapons in hand type of procedure is becoming outmoded when it is more effective to take out a target from the air. I admit that I am no expert on these matters, but I do pay attention to what is happening in the world and can see that we clearly have a problem which starts with the simple fact that we have too many guns and too many bad actors using them.
Now, I have never been a full-on “ban the guns” kind of thinker. I do believe that there should be thorough background checks before people are allowed to own a gun. The critical issue for me is, “why do you want one?” When people tell me they want a gun for personal protection, I can’t get on board with that. Honestly, I am a bit of a klutz and owning a gun could have more potential for personal harm than personal safety. But here’s the deal: we have hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are not getting help for mental health issues, and they have access to guns. We also have hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are serious criminals, and they have access to guns.
Because we have moved from hunting deer in the woods to hunting people on the street, in their workplace, or in their school, it is time to re-evaluate everything we have always thought we understood about guns and their place in our society.
The argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is extremely narrow rhetoric. Of course it is people firing guns who are actually doing the killing. But when the weapon is a military style assault rifle, one gun-wielding person can take out many other people in a very short period of time. Those guns are specifically designed to wipe out multiple targets.
We have all become targets, you know. If you dwell on that too much you won’t even get out of bed in the morning, but the new cultural reality is that when we do something as routine as go to work, go to school, or go shopping, we are putting ourselves in harms’ way. I refuse to let that scare me. I will feel free to go about my business, even though there are people in the world who may decide to do harm even if they don’t know me, my family, my friends, or my coworkers.
Read the Second Amendment. Here’s the text: “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.” Please keep in mind that guns were critically important to people in the 1700’s, since they had to kill their own food. They were also overthrowing another government in order to form “a more perfect union.” In addition, the guns they carried at the time were muskets, not AK-47’s. What we have allowed to form in this country is a non-regulated militia that threatens the very freedom we hold so dear.
We live in a world where terrorism is real. We cannot continue to allow home-grown terrorists to carry weapons and assault our citizens. We have seen too many mass shootings in this country. Don’t kid yourself that outside terrorists are the only threat to our society, we are threatened from within on a daily basis. The most recent incident in California was not a single crazed person with a gun, it was at least two people making what was obviously a planned attack on a community center for the disabled.
Sure, I will continue to send up prayers for those who have lost loved ones in mass shootings on our soil, but let’s get real about finding ways to stop this. We can’t seek security from the rest of the world and ignore security issues within our own borders. There is no panacea, no single right answer, and (pun intended) no silver bullet. But I am pretty sure it begins with a reasonable discussion about more restrictive gun laws, and includes discussions about mental health treatment, crime, drugs, and domestic terrorism. What we really need is an open dialogue, without the usual rhetoric, that brings people to societal solutions. It would be great if the gun lobby could actually bring some meaningful solutions to the table instead of continuing to fuel the fire with a cry to arm every man, woman, and child in the land.
Discussion around this issue will be hard work for a nation that prides itself on allowing individual rights. With freedom comes responsibility. So far we have been willing to stand firm for personal freedom, but we have been ignoring our responsibilities to the whole society. Time for an honest negotiation that leads to change? I think so.