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This time, it’s different.

December 20, 2012 3 comments

The shooting of twenty innocent children in Connecticut has caused me to rethink my position on gun control.  I hope that it causes others like me to do the same.  The rights of small children to attend school without being gunned down outweigh anyone else’s right to own any firearm they want.  The NRA will paint this an attack on individual liberties.  That’s a bullshit argument.  There’s a very big difference between regulating access to particular firearms and banning all of them outright.  This is about individual rights versus responsibility to community.  This time, the community wins.

This time, it’s different.

When a shooter entered a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado, and gunned down adults, I thought, “Well, if someone had been armed, they could have defended themselves and others.”   A short time later, when a shooter entered a crowded shopping mall in Portland, Oregon and gunned down Christmas shoppers I thought, “If someone with a concealed weapons permit had been there, they could have defended themselves and others.”  Then, about ten days after that a crazy person walked in to an elementary school and shot and killed twenty small children and six adults.  Again, I thought, “If one of those adults had been armed…”

And that’s when I realized just how completely crazy my thinking had become.

Kindergarten teachers should not have to go to work armed to the teeth.  We should not be living a society where we must surround our schools with armed guards.  I don’t want my children or grandchildren attending any school that operates like a maximum-security prison.

This time, it’s different.

The weapons used by these killers were modular, assault rifles developed for use by the military, not hunters.  The only difference between what the military uses and what these madmen carried is the ability to operate at full automatic.  Nevertheless, they are capable of spraying bullets as fast as one can repeatedly pull the trigger.

I spent 21 years in the military.  I am more than familiar with these weapons.  They have high clip capacities in order to allow for the most death and destruction with the least amount of effort.  They are not very effective at long-range accuracy; their barrels are too short for that.  They are designed to hunt human beings in the dense jungle or an urban environment – close-quarter fighting.

As I have stated in a previous post, I am a gun owner.  I like guns.  I sell guns.  But I have no legitimate reason to own a modular AR and neither does anyone else in the private sector.  I can’t carry it concealed.  I don’t need it for the defense of my home and hearth.  I have plenty of other guns that are more than capable of that.  I don’t need it for hunting.  If I can’t take an animal down range with one shot, I shouldn’t be pulling the trigger in the first place.

These guns were marketed to the private sector for one reason: they have macho appeal.  They may be fun to shoot, but the rights of little children outweigh anyone else’s right to a good time.

There are some who will argue that the Second Amendment affords them the right to own these weapons.  I disagree.  If the right to “keep and bear arms” includes, by definition, weapons that can be carried and used by one person, then by that logic we must also include fully automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missile launchers.  I cannot, in good conscience make that argument.  Some limitations must be made for the common good.

This time, it’s different.

Some have made the ridiculous argument that these atrocities would not happen if we would all just get down on our knees and prostrate ourselves to god.  That argument is so completely stupid it doesn’t even warrant a response.  Magical thinking will not solve our problems.

Some have argued that we should arm teachers and school staff.  That, too, is utterly ludicrous.  The people who committed these crimes were well armed.  They were fearless.  They were ready for death.  Only SEALs and SWAT teams are prepared such an adversary.  Effectively fighting an opponent such as that requires dedicated, daily training and readiness, not a weekend seminar.  Even seasoned police officers fire a number of shots that miss when they are faced with a gunman.  Arming teachers would only get more people killed and cause massive confusion among the police officers once they respond to the scene.

Some (myself, included) have argued that we must place more attention on our identification and treatment of the mentally ill.  And while this is true, it presents even more challenges than our other options.  People who are mentally ill don’t see themselves as mentally ill.  As far as they are concerned, you are the one the problem, not them.  Getting them in to treatment is next to impossible unless they agree to it.  You cannot simply label someone mentally ill and start shoving pills down their throat.  They have to want the treatment.  Only after they have done something wrong or dangerous can you effectively force treatment upon them.  By then, the damage is done.  By then, they’ve already sprayed bullets into a crowded restaurant.

The only sensible solution at this point is to limit access to these weapons.  Hunters can have their bolt-action rifles and revolvers.  Competitive shooters can still have their semi-automatic 9mms and .45s.  Homeowners can have their 18.5-inch shotguns.

But nobody needs an AR-15.

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Time for a New Conversation

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s time we had a rational, sensible, adult conversation about gun violence in America, just like it was time we had a rational, sensible, adult conversation about drunk driving.  I like guns.  I own guns.  I use guns.  Hell, I sell guns (and other sporting goods) for a living.  But I don’t walk into a crowded classroom and gun down innocent children just like I don’t drive drunk or punch another person in the face (as much as I would like to sometimes) just because I disagree with them.

We glorify guns in our culture.   We shouldn’t.  We glorify violence in our culture.  We shouldn’t.  We preach the virtues of gunpoint diplomacy and the evils of sex.  We tolerate hundreds of images of violence against others (particularly women) on television but become apoplectic over images of physical pleasure between consenting adults.  Don’t think that doesn’t have an impact on the developing brain.  Neural pathways are formed by observation of the familiar and routine and are designed to produce consistent outcomes according to those established rules of order and algorithms.  We are what we experience and observe on a regular basis – what is acceptable and what is not, what works and what does not, which thoughts and actions produce results and which ones do not.  It’s time to start changing that development model.

Brave, rational thinking is the only way out of chaos.  Keeping a gun in your closet and Jesus in your heart will not save you from the madman.  Faith and hope are nothing more than excuses for inaction and cowardice.

We need to make an honest and productive assessment of our cultural priorities.  It’s time to start allocating resources toward illegal gun trafficking and the untreated mentally ill and less time on busting pot smokers who built the pizza delivery industry.

We need a national healthcare system that makes it easy and inexpensive for people with mental illness to get the treatment they need before they go off the deep end.  Arming kindergarten teachers with 9mm automatics won’t change the equation.  The madman will still come – and he will be fearless and ready for death.  Only a team of SEALs are prepared for that kind of enemy.

We have a problem that goes far deeper than guns.  We need to examine our relationship with confrontation and violence.

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