Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Come to Jesus about Guns

Enough is enough.

We all need to sit down talk about what’s going on with guns and violence in our country.

I understand that the right to keep and bear arms, against an oppressor or tyrant presumably, is a bedrock principle of this nation.

I understand that we are not Japan, or England, or Germany, or France.

Neither I, nor anyone in my social circle, is in favor of guns.  But I like people and I like to talk.  How else can we learn about and appreciate different perspectives? Recently my mother was on a trip. She became fast friends with a husband and wife pair from Arizona.  This couple lived in a rural area on the border, and had had several scary incidents with illegal immigrants on their property.  

I can see the idea of gun ownership in their case -- for protection in the middle of nowhere. I hate, hate, hate to admit this, because I know that in countries where people do not own guns gun violence is rare.  

But for better or worse, I do understand in their case. I know there are friends of mine who are shaking their heads in disbelief.  That is not to say I want a gun in my house or anything to do with one.  I do NOT.

If I can be understanding, if I can see the grey areas, the complexities, can you, gun advocate?  I’d love to talk. Just two people having a come to Jesus.  Here, I’ll start:

  • Do you believe that your individual right to have access to/carry a weapon trumps my child's right to feel safe at school?  Or my right to feel that my family is safe at a mall or other public place?  That it trumps the safety of the whole? 
  • Do you believe that the Founding Fathers would want us to sit idly by if they saw mass shootings happening almost monthly? To say nothing of the inner city violence that is a cancer in cities like Chicago?  
  • Do you find it at all absurd that we live in a country where we protect children from their pajamas, cribs, formula, food, strollers, high chairs, car seats and cribs via constant recalls, but refuse to ban assault rifles?
  • Do you think that having more armed people would solve our safety issue?  If more and more people are armed where does it stop?  What is the endgame?
  • You are proud of being an American, as am I.  But the fact that we have over 10,000 gun related homicides – almost 20 times that of most other G8 nations—is shameful.  Are you okay with this?  Is being so different from other countries a good thing when the stats are so undeniably appallingly negative?  Is there anything we can and should learn from these other countries?
  • You admit that it is the lunatics, the mentally unstable, who are committing these horrific crimes, not law-abiding gun-owning citizens.  But such crimes are happening more often, which means that more mentally unstable people are getting hold of guns somehow.  How do we change this? 
  • Given the increasing frequency of mass shooting committed by mentally ill people, do you think that medical care and treatment should be put forth as an urgent matter of public policy?  How can we figure out which models to follow? 
  • You say that people will still manage to be violent.  And that they still might gain access to guns.  Just look at what happened in Norway last year. It's not that these countries are without violence, just without so much of it.  Shouldn't we at least try something different?
  • Where should we start?

Please. Let’s just talk, okay?  I’m being civil and courteous.  I’m leaving my sarcasm and bitterness and anger outside.  I’d love it if you would do the same.  Maybe you don’t know anyone like me either.  If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer. 

I feel numb and raw today, and you probably do, too.  I have no more tears, just an unease.  I feel less safe and less able to protect my children.  I feel beyond sad and shaken when I imagine the empty beds and places at the dinner table that too many families in Newtown are coping with. 

Of course I know random violence and random freak accidents are always a possibility.  Like most parents, I wake up in a cold sweat envisioning all sorts of crazy catastrophes.

But this nightmare was real.

Let’s make sure no one shoots twenty small children, five and six year olds, souls who saw the light of day in 2006, again in our great country. Let’s honor the families by making sure no one loses a child in that way again.

Let’s resolve to do that.  The status quo isn’t working.  It is an abysmal failure. 

Let’s try to come together as human beings trying to solve a problem.  Let the fiscal cliff be a contentious political issue, but not the safety of our children. 

Saving our children from gun violence should be easy.  It is imperative.  We owe them, we owe each other, so much better than this. 


  1. I think one of the the things we can learn from this is there is evil in the world. No amount of arguing, agendas or rules will stop that. I feel that we should all have the right to protect ourselves. That couple in AZ knows this because they have experienced the need to protect themselves. Luckily for many of us we have not experienced that. What happens when you do experience violence against you? You may be in an unlikely place such as a mall, school or even your own home. For me, I want to be prepared and ready to protect myself and my family. That's just my opinion.

  2. Well said. Some good, though provoking questions. I, personally, would like to see stricter gun laws. Did you hear there's a guy in LA that made threats to a school there? They searched his parents' house and found 9 guns with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

  3. Although I do not know what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the 2nd amendment, I can surmise that they did not ever imagine a day when citizens would have access to military level assault weapons or that weapons would even exist that could cause the death, destruction and devastation they cause now. I don't understand why it must be ALL OR NOTHING. Can we all agree that the right to bear arms should not mean any and all arms? Can we agree that a military assault weapon does not need to be readily available and in the hands of citizens? I feel there is middle ground here if everyone can come to the table willing to make compromises for the greater good. And, I can not listen to the argument that more (and more and more and even more people) should have guns. That is not safety...that is anarchy.

  4. @BadParentingMoments-you said"I can not listen to the argument that more....people should have guns. But, as stated in the above article this is to be a conversation. Anyway, my thoughts on this are: Guns are not the problem. More and more people with guns are not the problem. Yes, our founding fathers thought we should have access to weapons to protect us personally and from tyranny. Our founding fathers and partriots fought the revolutionary with the same type of weapons as the British. Our family has studied history and the constitution and they did expect and hope us to have access to devices to defend ourselves. A little history digging will reveal this. But, we must have the conversation about WHY this happened. People will always be able to get or MAKE weapons. People are always going to kill because evil does exist in our world. So, now Why was a mentally ill person allowed into the school? This is the question to ask. Just because he was a teacher's son? Also, why was he mentally ill? This is another question to ask which will take a lot of digging and studying (including the dynamics of the family) to begin to understand. The people who settled this land ALWAYS had a gun -EVERY FAMILY! what we didn't have was frequent mass murders. That is the question to ask-why more now? Does it have something to do with our culture and morals and values now? That is something to look at, too. Sorry, I'm not shouting at all, but there are many things to look at here about the whys. The guns were the how. But, it could have been a bomb or many other types of weaponry. Also, I want to say that in countries where every young man is/was required to enter military for a short stint was issued a gun, and every home is protected by a gun and allowed to use guns on intruders-THOSE countries have low crime rates. My point is we must ask WHY our young people want to shoot more young people. Then, there is inner city crime. Well, again look at the culture. Usually, young boys and men with no father figure so they form gangs-it's their family. Then, they shoot each other. It's a fact. A little digging will prove this, too. Please let's look at WHY and help these young people the best way possible.

  5. Lisa, thank you for participating in the conversation. I appreciate it. First, I too am a student of history, and although I am no constitutional scholar, I know that the framers meant for the constitution to be a living, mutable document, not one set in stone. So regardless of what they intended, we have the power to change it. We have many times. We have abolished slavery and given African-Americans and women the vote. We have criminalized alcohol and made it legal again. So whatever the framers meant, we have the power to change what is not working. And what we have going here is a hot mess.

    Second, no G8 nation has our gun violence rate, Lisa, regardless of their legality of guns or health system. This suggests we must look at the problem from the two fronts. Not just one, but both. I think that saying there will always be evil and people will find ways to make weapons is too passive. Some people will always be poor, sick and intellectually weak, but we still provide them with financial and medical/social help and educate them. Sure, it has to do with our culture and morals and values now. And guns are part of the problem. A big part. And if the guns, i.e. the how is part of the problem, you have to do something about that too, as well as examine the systemic background, the laws and practices, that facilitate the how.

    You talk about gangs in the inner city, men with no father figure, etc. so they shoot each other. Yes this is fact, but it is grossly oversimplified. Years of systemic lack of access and racism. I am not saying the people are not at fault. But why? But how? We've got to be more curious and willing to do a little more complex thinking.

    The people who settled this land had rifles and muskets and lived in the middle of nowhere. They lived in lawless societies (i.e. the Old West) and had to defend themselves from Native Americans (whose land they were stealing, but that is a whole different issue). That is why they had guns. No one today needs a military style AAR. No one. Why does anyone need access to one of these weapons. I'm not even talking about handguns, although I am not in favor of those. But AAR prohibition would be a great first step.

    I wrote this to stimulate conversation, and hopefully some compromise, and I'm sorry if I rambled. A democracy demands compromise. It demands complex thinking. It asks us to attack an issue from many sides and not say people will do as they will. And no one will. Not even after 20 kids are murdered.That is not America. It makes me sick. It makes me shake with rage.

  6. @ Lisa, he was "allowed" into the school because apparently he took his assault rifle and shot the window out. So that pretty much answers that question.

    More guns is definitively NOT the answer.

    First, consider that where there are more guns, there is more homicide:

    Then consider that in places where combat style weaponry is the most common among the general population, places like Somalia and Pakistan, actual freedom is a etherial dream and tyranny is an every day fact of life.

    Last, I'll leave you with this note about the Constitution. The Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms. The subtext there is that it's a choice. And your choice to bear arms is not permitted to impinge of my choice not to bear arms, nor is it permitted to prevent me from enjoying the privileges of the most basic rights in our culture: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    Your right to bear arms is limited in that respect, just as the rights in the Bill of Rights have their limitations.

  7. Keesha,
    Powerful, smart post!!
    I completely agree with you. Thank you for opening this dialogue with such thoughtful questions!!
    I have nothing more substantive to add to these comments, but did want to let you know that I've been impressed by people's thoughtful responses all over the blogosphere and I've been reblogging them on my site. I don't know how to make WordPress "reblog" from Blogger, but I'll at least share your post on my FB page.
    I was volunteering with my local gun control group in our state Capitol on the day of the Newtown mass murder, and learned about it from a legislative aide. It was a surreal, upsetting, but also empowering experience. I posted a video about it in a post called, "The Right to Bear Harms"


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