All of this anti-gun talk is making me crazy. Everyone is focusing on the fact that guns are used to kill. But the fact of the matter is that if a person is going to kill – whether premeditated or not, mentally stable or not, criminal history or not – if a person is going to kill, they will find a weapon and a way to do so. People seem to think more restrictive gun laws are the solution to the mass shooting epidemic in America, but more restrictions on our first line of defense as citizens only weakens us; it does not solve the problem. What we need to focus on is why people are feeling the need to kill in the first place. Society’s ignorance of (or just plain ignoring) symptoms of mental illness or mental distress, poor parenting, an individual’s lack of a personal support system, various issues that are the underlying causes of political outrage…these are the problems that need to be addressed in order to reduce violence. Guns are not the problem. Still, we need to address gun control. So let’s do so from a true Independent’s perspective, approached with an open mind.
Words cannot describe the sadness we are feeling as a nation over the senseless loss of too many innocent lives this past week. The Sandy Hook School tragedy in Connecticut is incomprehensible. Massacres like this are rapidly becoming more prevalent in our country. Each is just as shocking as the last. It seems these days we can’t go anywhere and truly feel safe – that even our most sacred “safe” places are no longer so: churches, schools, community shopping centers and movie theaters have been targets of gun violence relatively recently. We are shaken to our very core over our general safety, as individuals and as a nation. From the center of this horrific awareness rises the age-old debate over gun control. Because these tragedies have been committed with guns, anti-gun lobbyists are demanding stricter gun laws. This scares me more than the thought of sending my own small children to public schools in today’s world.
They are too young for school now and I plan on homeschooling when the time comes; nonetheless, if it were my own children returning to public schools after the Newtown shooting, a law further restricting gun ownership would not make me feel better about them walking through the school doors. I am more sensible than to believe that criminals follow laws in the first place. What would make me feel better would be if I knew that at least half of the staff was trained, licensed and carrying a concealed firearm. Better yet, I would love knowing that there were a number of military veterans at the ready in every school to protect our little ones (sign this petition to make it happen)!
I admire and respect the women who gave their lives to protect the lives of their children at Sandy Hook. Trying to imagine putting myself in their position, I can’t help but wonder how I would react in a similar situation. Putting it in more real-time terms, I think about how I would hope a situation like that would be handled at my own child’s school. If one of the first adults that a terrorist encountered once they forcefully and violently entered a school building was armed, then a significant number of lives could be saved. If it was common knowledge that faculty may be armed, it would not be so appealing for people to target these buildings in the first place. It is proven that predators prey on the weak. Restricting gun ownership for average citizens makes the average citizen the weak, easy target. We are so scared of guns in America. We fail to remember that one of the reasons those before us gave their lives in the American Revolution was so that every human being who lived here would have the right to live his or her life as freely as possible without fear of losing our freedom to government. This means being able to live and pursue life in whichever manner we think is best for our own lives so long as we don’t infringe on one another’s rights.
The general principles behind the framework of the Constitution are truly timeless. One of those pertains to the right to bear arms because it is inevitable that evil exists in the world. In America we like to think that if we all do things the right way then we can somehow stamp out evil and live in an ideal world where evil does not exist. But the reality is that in all of history and with all today’s technology, no one has yet discovered a way to overpower all evil at once. Until that day comes, I want to be given an equal chance at defending myself and my family against the evils of the world. (And equal chance, by my definition, means having access to the same weapons that can be used against me and therefore includes assault weapons.) I want this right, not so I can fight the citizens with whom I share a love of my country and all it stands for – these are my neighbors, friends we have just not yet met, my brothers and sisters in the kingdom of heaven – but so that I can take a stand against those who endanger my family, my friends, and my freedom. We need to educate our children as well.
Just as much as kids need to learn about basic hygiene, health and social standards, the truth is that they should be equally knowledgeable about various safety and survival methods. I believe that includes firearm awareness and training. The aim is not to put guns in the hands of children so that they can fight back against their attackers (though I suppose kids being able to fight attackers isn’t all bad) but really to prevent situations like this from occurring again in the first place. Teach children to respect guns, not fear them. Teach them how to safely handle and disarm a firearm if need be. Teach them that guns can be effective tools (think hunting or security) or harmful weapons. Teach them about what happens when one man takes another man’s life. Take away the stigma; take away the ignorance/curiosity/taboo; take away the fear and turn it into knowledge (true power). Then take your children outside to play. Spend time with them. Hug them. Talk with them. Listen to them. Practice healthy living and develop acceptable ways of managing negative feelings. Ask for and readily accept help when you need it. This is how we are going to get to the root of the problem.
Gun violence is indeed a problem. A complex problem that President Obama acknowledges we need to address NOW. Something has to be done. So what can we do to reduce gun violence without infringing on our second amendment rights?
How to take action –
1.) Raise awareness: remove the stigma, remove the fear – guns are a tool and a resource that are capable of producing both beneficial as well as harmful results. Much like a car, firearms can be weapons of mass destruction or life saving tools. The result lies in the hand of the operator.
2.) Give every law-abiding citizen the opportunity to purchase AND carry legal firearms so that they can be used when needed. Say NO to Gun Free Zones, which weaken our defenses.
3.) In order to legally purchase, own and carry weapons, require citizens to meet the following criteria:
- Provide proof of US citizenship
- Pass a weapons safety, instructional training and concealed carry course
- Have a clean bill of mental health as determined by passing a psychological evaluation (not just answering a questionnaire that can be falsified)
- Pass a background check that shows no violent criminal history.
- Provide proof of ownership for a secure, locked gun safe, large enough to house all guns owned.
4.) Hire unemployed military veterans, police officers and other undercover armed security to work in places currently unprotected and therefore vulnerable to attack (i.e. libraries, schools and malls).
5.) Refrain from overextending one way or the other-we need to find a happy medium to maintain balance as a nation. I am by no means suggesting that every single person living in America today should have totally free and fully unregulated access to guns. This is extremely unrealistic and will clearly lead to disaster. But extreme control and restrictions in the other direction are not good either because it leaves us too vulnerable.
Together, guided by our Constitution, we CAN take a stand and defend our nation from all threats, foreign and domestic. And we can do so with guns in the hands of responsible citizens.