What Would Jen Do - A Discussion About Guns
Yesterday, I shared a story on my Facebook wall from the Washington Post about the Barden family from Sandy Hook, CT that sparked a lot of debate. The article talks about how the Barden’s life has been changed since their son was one of the 26 people killed in the school shooting – and how the gun laws are exactly the same as they were on that day, despite their efforts.
My initial reaction when I shared it was from the place of a mother. I cried when I read the story. I looked at my seven-year old daughter and the thought of losing her in such a horrific way and having it be for no greater purpose, having nothing positive left behind to help others made me want to vomit. I wanted to scream at how awful the system is. It’s horrific that lawmakers are using husbands and widows and parents as “sales tools” to push their political agenda – as long as it is framed the way they need it to be framed. It’s all about talking points and photo ops. It’s not about the victims. It should be about seriously sitting down with the other side and figuring out a way to have a conversation about guns, the Second Amendment, and the greed that is blocking the reform of the industry and GETTING SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED. Instead, it’s about winning, about ego, and about greed – moral and financial.
While I may not personally wish to own a gun for any reason, I don’t disregard that my neighbor may have different feelings on the subject and choose a different path for himself or his family. I will acknowledge that guns as a whole are not a subject that I am well versed on and I primarily come from the place of emotion and simple logic instead of statistics and constitutional history. My ego is not so great that I can’t admit my weaknesses. But I kept asking this question then, and I’ll keep asking it now: why can’t there be requirements on gun ownership similar to the requirements involved with driving a car? The answer I received over and over again from my friends and family (hunters and former military) was that I was comparing apples to oranges. One is a right and the other is a privilege and they shouldn’t be put in the same category. Why not? Because there is a 200+ old piece of paper that was drafted during the time of slavery and women not being able to vote that says nothing about rules but tells us that we can “bear arms”? Does it talk about machine guns? Automatic weapons? I’m sorry but at some point shouldn’t we be able to look at the evolution of society and technology and adapt to what makes sense for the greater good?
Just so everyone is clear on what exactly the Second Amendment says, the Library of Congress website (loc.gov) lists the definition as “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
There have been 100 million firearms made in the United States in the last 25 years. Some estimates say that there are 270 million guns in the hands of U.S. citizens. How many of those citizens have been to a training class? Have fired their weapon in the last 5 years? Know how to clean and store it properly?
I’m frustrated. Frustrated that those who own guns put on blinders to solely blame the person firing the weapon and refuse to see the bigger picture. Frustrated that instead taking a step back and looking at this situation from an impartial perspective, neither side can set aside their ego long enough to get anything accomplished. Guns are everywhere. Companies are making tons of money. People are dying.
A teenager in Illinois needs NINE MONTHS of practice and classroom work before they are allowed to get a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. They will have to prove every 5 years that they are still qualified to drive that vehicle and still have an understanding of the safety rules that go along with driving it. When you can no longer do these things, your license will be revoked.
Take a look at the list of requirements to apply for a new license:
Besides your name and address, here’s the questions on the Firearm Owner Identification Card application in Illinois:
Send it in with your $10.00, get your card and you can purchase a gun. WITHOUT EVER HAVING FIRED ONE. Without knowing how to handle it, clean it, take care of it, or store it. A gun that can be used to kill a person. My child. Your child. Why is asking someone who wants to own a gun to know what the hell they are doing with it so preposterous that it sends people into a tizzy?
For the record, I’m not interested in abolishing the Second Amendment. I believe in more stringent background checks, criminal record and mental health assessments that are recurring every couple of years, proof of successfully completing a training and handling course for the intended firearm that you are looking to purchase (prior to purchase), proof of proper storage, insurance, continued education and training, and continued licensing. I believe that the there should be limits on the type and number of firearms one household is allowed to own. I don’t believe that automatic weapons of any kind should be allowed in the hands of non-military personnel, or even be manufactured for anyone other than the military.
All I’m asking is that we hold gun owners just as accountable as we do people who are driving a car. Cars that weren’t even around when the Second Amendment was written.
According to a USA Today article from April, 2013, guns kill twice as many children than cancer does. TWICE AS MANY. Would asking people to be more responsible prevent things like the tragedy in Sandy Hook? Maybe. Then again maybe not. There will always be senseless violence that rocks us to our core. Where is our obligation to each other as humans? Does the Second Amendment supersede that?
If it saved the life of just one person – a child, a mother, a father – wouldn’t it be worth it?