I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week or so trying to observe the climate around me regarding the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary here in my home state of CT. This shooting was the worst attack on an elementary school in US history. It also so happened to hit me close to home as I know one of the mothers who lost her 6-year old child to the attack. Photos of her little girl and her family have been all over Facebook, the news, the newspapers, everywhere and anywhere media exists it seems, there she is. The tiny face who so reminds me of my colleague and classmate has become embedded in my heart. Losing my grandfather a scant five days after this tragedy has left me feeling a bit numb and deeply exhausted. As much as I’d prefer to stick my head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong, I have learned that is the sure-fire route to acid reflux and anxiety attacks. I definitely don’t have the energy for either of those things.
Amid all the arguing and memes and FB battles I have sifted through I have yet to come upon anything that satisfied me regarding the massive question of, where do we go from here? You can post all the pictures and quotes you want on Facebook or Twitter, or anywhere else you please but, to me, this is not a question of gun control but a direct reflection on how far down the rabbit hole we have fallen as a society.
Frankly, I don’t believe anyone is entitled to own anything. Guns included. Now, before you start screeching about Second Amendment and blah, blah, blah hold up and try to hear where I’m coming from.
In case you haven’t been to the mall, driven on any roads, or read a single news story – things are not going well. The NRA’s answer to the call for action being something along the lines of, to stop bad guys with guns we need more guns for the good guys to have, is ignorant and, frankly, asinine.
To me, if you want to grow up and play with big kid guns, you better put in the work. Letting any Average Joe McDumbass buy any kind of weapon or ammunition is clearly not working. This is not the guns fault nor do I necessarily think it’s Average Joe’s. In case you haven’t noticed, our country and its people do a lot of things half-assed. We love taking shortcuts and multi-tasking. Faster, faster! We cry. Our patience has been worn away by instant streaming and drive-through food service. When things don’t go fast enough we have temper tantrums and stamp our feet demanding somebody fix it.
Guess what. Nobody can fix immaturity. There is no pill for that.
You can’t BUY safety and security. The towns of Littleton, CO, (home of Columbine High School) and Newtown are both very well to-do communities. Predominantly white, upper/middle class with high levels of education and family involvement. Places that, by virtue of their zip codes, are considered safe.
As far as I’m concerned, I look at cars and guns as equal opportunity killers. They both kill thousands of people a year but I don’t hear anyone shrieking about car rights. Nope, just the gun rights. Why? Because cars really are a necessity for most people to be able to live their lives in any kind of convenient manner. Guns? Not so much. Nobody ever bled to death waiting on a gun to arrive at a crime scene.
Now, now, don’t get your panties in a bunch. I’m not through yet.
Would you give your 16-year old, newly licensed teen driver the keys to your new Maserati? Or Hummer? Or…well, anything new and really fast or powerful? How about your toolbox friend who thinks nothing of drinking and driving? Probably not. Not unless you knew for sure your kid or friend understood what he was in control of when he got behind the wheel. I feel the same type of outlook on guns. Why can any idiot walk into a Walmart and buy semi-automatic weapons? Why can any fool buy thousands of rounds of ammo online?
Because America, we have lost our respect for things. We think we can do anything, use anything, and are, in fact, entitled to do so, without fear of retribution or, even more scary, responsibility. When I look around me I see a terrifying number of adults basically having tantrums because they might actually have to go out of their way to attain weaponry. And well over half of these adults are neither educated nor interested in, learning to respect first: human life and second: the power of a gun..
To me, if you haven’t served in the military or law enforcement or received some sort of intensive training in some capacity that should automatically mean you don’t get to play with the big boys. Say what you want about the military but there is zero doubt in my mind or heart that they teach respect and restraint for the weapons they use and the power they hold. If you are that committed to owning large-scale weapons, as far as I’m concerned, you better put in the work to understand what it is you’re holding. Servicemen and women are taught from day one to recognize what it is they have in their hands. They are taught to respect these weapons. That they are not toys to be used for childish vengeance. They are to be used for protection and self-defense. There are far too many people out there who just think “Guns are fun. The bigger the better.” or “Having guns makes me feel safe.” That’s how we end up with psychopaths getting their hands on things they should never have access to. For what? A false sense of security. The shooter’s mother was murdered in her own bed by her own guns at the hands of her mentally ill son. I’m not saying he wouldn’t have found a way to get his hands on a gun but I’m pretty sure it would have been a hell of a lot more work than simply walking to the gun closet. Maybe somebody out there would have noticed, this kid doesn’t seem right. Did his doctors know his mother had her own armory? What might they have said? I know for damn sure I would have told my clients, the guns are either in a safe that require your fingerprint to open or they stay at somebody else’s house. Period.
In my country today I feel we have lost what it means to respect other people. We have lost our respect for human lives. We have lost the conversations about right and wrong. We have stopped bothering to get to know our neighbors. We have stopped reaching out and instead have curled further and further into our own heads. We have stopped asking the question, “Does this seem okay to you?”
Want to solve the violence problem? Try looking at your neighbor and saying hello. Stop worrying about yourself so much and take a minute to look at your community. Get active, make something happen. Empower yourself through good deeds instead of what you can buy with your credit card. Stop taking shortcuts, America. We are better than that and our children deserve a hell of a lot more than what we’ve left them.