I don't understand the American obsession with guns. There was another mass shooting at an American school last week, this time in Texas. Ten people were killed -- eight students and two teachers -- and 10 were seriously injured. As usual, politicians offered their useless "thoughts and prayers" and still refused to do something -- anything -- to address the problem of gun violence in America.
The arguments of pro-gun people that we hear over and over include:
- More laws won't stop the violence. We already have gun laws, and they don't work. Criminals don't care about laws.
- Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
- You liberals are just trying to take away our guns.
- The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
- Let's put armed guard/s in every school.
- This isn't the time to bring this up.
- Hundreds of people are shot in Chicago every year, and nobody talks about it.
- These deaths are the price we pay for freedom.
Let's address these arguments one at a time. No, laws don't stop criminals from committing crimes. They never have. So since gun control laws don't work, according to some, why do we bother with laws at all? It's illegal to murder someone. It's illegal to drink and drive. It's illegal to rape someone. It's illegal to speed. It's illegal to rob a bank. By this logic, since people continue to commit these and other crimes, we might as well just get rid of the laws that make such acts illegal, right?
Right, people kill people using guns. It's much easier to kill 10 or 20 or 50 people using a gun than it is to kill them with a knife or to strangle them.
Nobody is trying to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. People are asking for common-sense solutions, not to disarm people. Perhaps the second amendment needs to be rewritten to guarantee the right to bear the type of arms available when the amendment was written -- musket loaders.
Sure, once in a great while someone with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. But if police respond to a shooting situation, how will they know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? Police will assume that anybody brandishing a gun is a bad guy until proven otherwise.
Do we really want to return to the days of the Wild West, with shootouts in the streets?
Armed guards in every school is not a viable solution. When teachers are spending hundreds of dollars of their own money to provide needed classroom supplies their districts can't afford, who is going to pay the billions of dollars it will cost each year to put an armed guard in every school? The same goes for the call to install metal detectors in every school. Perhaps there should be a large tax on every gun sold, with the tax money used to fund armed guards and metal detectors in every school.
"This isn't the time to discuss this" is one of the most ridiculous responses I have heard. So exactly when is the right time to start discussing possible solutions to the ongoing gun violence in America? It wasn't time after the Columbine shootings. It wasn't time after the Parkland shootings. It wasn't time after 26 first graders and teachers were gunned down in Newtown. It wasn't time after the Virginia Tech shootings. So tell me, when is a good time to discuss the murder of hundreds of innocent people in the US every year?
Yes, Chicago has a serious murder problem. People should be talking about it. People should be outraged. But the fact is, those are not mass shootings, and people pay less attention to individual murders than to mass murders. That doesn't mean the people killed or wounded are any less important.
Deaths from gun violence are the price we pay for freedom? The cost of freedom is the deaths of hundreds of innocent people every year? No, allowing people to slaughter people just because they got fired or are having a bad day or the wife left them is not the price of freedom. We aren't talking about soldiers protecting their country. We're talking about people attending a concert, going to a movie or going to high school, and being killed because they are participating in everyday activities.
Don't ask me what legislation I think would help solve the problem. I don't know. I'm not an expert in gun violence. I'm not an expert in public policy. Legislation on its own won't make a difference. But I do know that Congress needs to stop blocking the CDC's wish to study gun violence as a public health issue. I do know that there need to be discussions -- minus the rancor, accusations and name calling -- about how to address this problem. As long as the NRA and its followers continue to reject every proposed action, there will be no progress. Nobody is trying to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Stop pretending that is going to happen. It isn't. This isn't an all-or-none situation. I do know that we need to find a middle ground. And that won't happen as long as the NRA and others care more about guns and money than about human lives.
My father and grandfathers hunted squirrels and rabbits. There were guns in the house (shotguns). They were not kept in a gun safe. But we kids knew not to touch them, and frankly, getting them out to play with or use to shoot somebody never crossed our minds. So what has changed over the years?
We can point fingers at a myriad of people and organizations. Despite what that well-known intellectual and rabid NRA shill Ted Nugent says, it isn't preservatives in our food that cause mass shootings. One of the victims of the Texas shooting is now being blamed for causing the shooting because she repeatedly rejected the advances of the shooter and reportedly "embarrassed" him in class. We live in a culture of 'blame the victim,' a culture of violence, where if a driver inadvertently cuts off another driver, there is a risk of road rage escalating to the point where one driver pulls a gun and starts shooting. A 6-year-old girl in the car with her dad and brother was shot and killed in a road rage incident in Albuquerque a couple of years ago. Was her death "the price we pay for freedom"? I think not.
There is no easy answer. There is no "if we do this, gun violence will stop" answer. But don't we -- gun owners and non-gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, city folks and rural residents -- owe it to ourselves and our kids to at least try?