I haven’t posted anything in a long while, and I have so many feelings swirling around in my head right now that, well, here I am.

First off, as a mother of four very young children, my heart breaks for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre as well as their families, the first responders, and everyone else involved.  We will likely never be able to make any proper “sense” out of this lunatic’s actions.

But, the knee-jerk reaction to “ban guns!!” is also disheartening.  I read in the news media that every public mass-shooting event since 1950 (with one exception – the Tucson shooting) has taken place in a “gun free” zone.  We’re sitting ducks, folks.

So, what is the real problem here? It’s a mental health issue. We almost always find out, after the fact, that the perpetrators in these events are, well, crazy.  Often family and friends are aware of the mental health issues, but don’t think that anything would possibly come of it.  How is this possible?

My feeling is that often for the perpetrators of these crimes, their families and communities have failed them.  They nearly always come from a divorced or single-parent home.  There is no close family connection, few or no genuine friendships, no community or church connection. These folks, usually young men, are loners and apparently have nothing to lose — truly a tragedy.

As a homeschooling parent, I know what my children are up to pretty much every moment of the day.  Granted, my kids are young and still fairly dependent on me. But, the lifestyle that Ellis and I have chosen for our family allows us a level of involvement with them that we would not have if we both worked full time outside of our home.  If we both worked away from home 40-50 hours a week, we’d have to rely on someone else to provide the bulk of the care for our kids – government school, private nannies, private school, in-home daycare, or some combination of the above.  We’d have little control over the day-to-day influences on our kids, but we could probably afford a few extravagant vacations every year, lots of toys, nicer cars, you name it.

Unfortunately, this seems to be increasingly what government is trying to offer us (public school, after-school programs, and “free lunch” incentives often seem little more than “free child care”, freeing parents from the “burden” of responsibility for their offspring).  And, government programs – including entitlements — “empower” women to be single parents, able to bear a child and shirk all responsibility for raising that child if they so choose.  I’m not saying this happens 100% of the time, but it sure happens more than it should.  It was once a disgrace to have children out of wedlock, or to divorce – now it’s perfectly acceptable and you can practically make a living out of it at taxpayer’s expense.

So, when you take your child away from the other half of the parenting equation (or the other half of the parenting equation removes themself of their own volition), life gets really complicated for the children involved.   If there is no extended family or close friend network to fill the void (the phrase “it takes a village” was coined for a reason), it is my feeling that these are the children who fall through the cracks, and are failed by society.    There are a lot of them, and they certainly do not all evolve into evil sociopaths (thankfully!), but some do.

I don’t have all the answers.  However, I can say that loving our children, taking personal responsibility for their physical and emotional well-being, and knowing what they’re up to is one step in the right direction.   Did Adam Lanza’s family know he was troubled? (Seems to me that anyone who is “Goth” is crying out for help…)

Being able to possess and carry a firearm for self-defense against some lunatic is yet another key.  Some food for thought:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/10/did-colorado-shooter-single-out-cinemark-theater/

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/229929/gun-control-and-mass-murders/john-r-lott-jr

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-obama-ready-meaningful-action-gun-control/story?id=17977115#.UM4A9JtQBtJ

 

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Gun ownership is not what’s wrong with America.

One thought on “Gun ownership is not what’s wrong with America.

  • December 19, 2012 at 10:57 am
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    THE PROBLEM:

    Even gun-owners are appalled by what has occurred. But there is a difference between meaningful legislation to prevent this type of recurrence, and the knee-jerk political posturing where individual legislators look to push their own agendas. Of course this mentally estranged person has used a gun to murder children. Not a hammer or a car, or an axe. And while hardcore right-wingers will say “guns don’t kill people” and hardcore left-wingers will immediately react by trying to ban the tools of destruction themselves, the truth lies in the middle. One item on which both are correct; something must be done to change this. But don’t think the right-leaning among us are all gun hugging bible thumping rednecks without any compassion.

    If banning guns would prevent this type of tragedy and ensure security, most all gun owners would gladly give them up. After all, most gun-owners are forward thinking individuals. That is why they bought those guns in the first place. They are not content to sit on the sidelines and wait for others to protect them. They have thought a few steps ahead. The problem is that banning guns will not ensure anyone’s security. The statistics speak for themselves. During periods of increased gun control, crime statistics are higher. The country of MEXICO in which most all guns are completely illegal for the general citizenry has some of the highest rates of gun violence in the world (ahead even of active war zones in the middle east). Despite a recent rash of mass murders using firearms, gun related murders and crimes of all types in the US are at historic lows, while gun freedoms have never been more prevalent. Put yourself in a criminal’s shoes. Will you be more likely to attack a soft target (a population whose gun ownership rights are severely limited) or hard targets where every person has the potential to easily carry concealed? Criminals prefer those who are unlikely to fight back. President Obama and the Mayor of Chicago find themselves in such a quandary. Chicago and Washington DC have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, while simultaneously having some of the worst gun violence rates in the country. Is that the model we want to follow nationally? Learn from these well-intentioned but disastrous mistakes.

    The recent mass-murder acts speak for themselves. The Virginia campus shooting was a place where firearms are prohibited. A school full of kindergarteners is likely to be less armed than a police station. The federal government cannot legislate away the 310 million firearms held for private use in the United States. Therefore the only sensible option for everyday Joe Citizen is to purchase a firearm. Legislating away firearms or bullets or whatever short-sighted plan is being concocted will not reduce these incidences; it will increase their frequency, while giving rise to many undesirable second-order effects, some of which are covered below:

    1) It will turn the 310 million legal firearms into illegal artifacts now sold exclusively on the black-market. There will be no background checks. Mental defectives and criminals who do not mind breaking the law in the first place will acquire them while most law-abiding citizens will relinquish them. The ensuing crime wave will make the tragedies of today pale in comparison.

    2) It will turn today’s law-abiding citizens into criminals. Face it, you know who you are, gun-owners. There is a (large) cohort of gun enthusiasts for which “from my cold dead hands” is not a mere expression. And firefighters, construction workers, entrepreneurs whose completely legal lifestyle of gun ownership today will make them felons as soon as the laws are passed. In the same way that thousands of families are “saved” from poverty every year with a re-definition of the term, millions of citizens whose only crime is to enjoy the shooting sports will now be needlessly reclassified and additionally tax the overflowing prison population.

    3) There is no learning-curve for the relinquishing of gun rights. We will not get those rights back, ever. Be sure you want to give them up. The government seems unreasonable even now; do you think it will become more agreeable once the threat of revolution is removed? To be honest, the founding fathers were mostly liberals. But they were gun-toting liberals. They learned from hard-won experience, and included the 2nd amendment so that we would not have to do the same. Let’s think on that hard before we decide we know better. It sounds cliché and idealist to tout the “free men own weapons, slaves do not” line, but that is not far from the truth. In the same vein Jefferson’s line “those who would sacrifice liberty for a little momentary security deserve neither liberty nor security,” is applicable. It makes no difference whether that liberty is a knife or a flintlock or an assault rifle. Relinquish it at your own peril.

    4) The economic aspect is so large that it cannot be ignored. In a society as interconnected as ours, any hit to one industry eventually trickles out to all. The gun industry and all its associated industries is an astronomical business, and legislation preventing them from legal manufacture and distribution will remove all of this business and tax revenue and push it into the black market in a similar way that the “war on drugs” has caused more problems than it has solved.

    Jason Whitlock writes about sports. On that subject he is very astute and I have agreed with numerous of his commentaries. However it is telling that he is not a paid political contributor or military strategist. He thinks the 2nd amendment does not protect us from drones and nuclear weapons and stealth fighters. What he does not realize, is that those systems are controlled by ground stations. Now while those stations are guarded militarily, even a small town with the weaponry already existing therein is capable of capturing most any one of these. And America is full of towns. His feeling of helplessness in the face of the military might of the United States is not shared by those with sufficient knowledge of military logistics, nor those trained correctly in the use of weaponry. As for his blatantly odd comparison of the NRA to the KKK, his conspiracy theory that the NRA is somehow arming inner city black youths and supplying them with drugs is baseless enough that any moderately competent person will question the logical validity of his entire recent gun control commentary. That said, I share his and Bob Costas’ sentiment that it is a tragedy that a former NFL player murdered himself and his girlfriend. However their comments also seem transparent and diversionary.

    What is clear is that football is a violent game (I say that without any hint of derision). That is its appeal. Of course a tertiary aspect of this is that young men pumped full of legal hormonal supplements with an unusual psychology prone to violence as a way toward solving their problems on the field have increased testosterone in their systems and sometimes, considering their young age (and perhaps insulated personal lives), will use that violence off the field in a moment of poor judgment. But Jason Whitlock and Mr. Costas anxiety that we will somehow blame their game is misplaced. Nobody thinks football is polite. Anyone with a high school education knows that most men of the size required for NFL play would have been warriors if born at any earlier time, and that these men would have buried their weapons in dozens of faces of their opponents in battle. Today we put them to more constructive use (entertainment), but once in awhile their instincts will play out off the field. That in no way condones their violence, but it is something we have to accept, as opposed to the knee-jerk reaction of blaming the machine used for the actual act. People died (and in higher numbers) before any gun was ever invented. Instead of partisan rhetoric, wild conspiracy theories, and knee-jerk emotional reaction, let’s prevent this in the future; starting with an honest look at how these mass killers acquire their means of killing.

    Columbine and Newtown come to mind instantly. As do all of the killings of law enforcement south of the border in Juarez (the US/Mexico border town which has the highest firearm murder rate in the world). These killers, along with a host of others did not acquire their weapons legally, (which right there says that even the most stringent gun laws would not have halted them from killing their victims). They stole or borrowed these weapons from others. To those who decide emotionally, this seems like an intractable problem. It is not. While gun-toting yahoos want to keep all their guns, all their violent media, and all their privacy, a closer look at the perpetrators of these heinous crimes reveals that a few relatively painless steps would go far in preventing future occurrences. This is because there is a specific cocktail of 3 behaviors that most all of these killers possess: psychological makeup (predilection for anger, depression, and violence), access to guns (either legally or illegally), and conditioning (media depiction of violence, notably movies and video games).

    THE SOLUTION:

    While the gun lover’s mantra “tens of millions of gun owners killed no one today” is true, the same can be said for any single factor above. Thousands of Asperger’s syndrome sufferers also killed no one, nor did the millions of people watching violent movies and logging hours of time practicing violent acts within video games. While almost none of our citizens are prejudiced against the blind, we all agree that the blind should not operate motor vehicles. Unfortunately, blindness is a more straightforward diagnosis than the anomalous “mental defective” (which would prevent someone from legally purchasing a firearm).

    So for conceptual economy, the Democrats have chosen their target correctly. The easiest of these three factors to attack is the access to weapons. While a democratic senator from the east coast may have never owned a gun, odds are excellent that he or she has watched an act of violence in the media or have children who own scores of violent video games, or that they have at least one family member with some degree of mental illness. Pragmatically, both of these are unpalatable targets for attack, as both are covered by either 1st amendment defenses, or healthcare privacy defenses, and are political suicide to attempt to regulate. I agree with them, the access to firearms is the point to attack (though honorable mention should go to reforming how mental defectives are logged so as to trigger an FBI denial in the event that a mental defective attempts to legally purchase a firearm).

    Notice this is not the same thing as legislating away firearms or magazines. Someone of remedial mental capacity, if unable to legally purchase a hundred round clip will simply buy ten clips with capacities of ten rounds each, or illegally acquire one of the millions already in circulation. However simple, responsible legislation could be passed to prevent many of these weapons from being accessed.

    We have safeguards to prevent those who should not drive from driving. Likewise, the federal government could pass and enforce laws requiring everyone with more than a certain number of guns or magazines over certain capacities to own a safe with some minimal set of desired security features. This would incite no opposition from pro-firearm forces as they themselves advocate strong safety practices and actually would likely curry their favor as it funnels more assets into their industry. The federal government could likely also enforce a delayed (for example a 1 year window) section of the law whereby individuals can opt to either sell off firearms over the limit before the law takes effect, or receive a credit toward the purchase of a safe to hold them. In doing so they would be likely to pass a “no grandfathering clause” which would not allow anyone with more than the set limit of guns to not own a safe. This would stimulate not only the economy, safety, responsibility; it would also decrease illegal access and have the advantage of support from a large portion of the citizenry. Though many other such simple steps exist, the emotional rhetoric runs high…

    EVEN IF SOLUTIONS SUCH AS THIS WERE IMPLEMENTED:

    It is hard to swallow, but people die. No matter how safe we make cars, some people will die in automobile accidents. And even if all the steps were taken to make guns as safe as possible, some people will still wind-up as gun victims. There is no perfectly safe society. But every other option results in MORE victims, not less. I’m compassionate, capable, and reasonably intelligent, as are most all of you. It is the plight of compassionate reasonable intelligent people that when something undesirable occurs, we move to prevent it from happening again. I believe this is the place where most all those in public office find themselves, except, banning firearms (or just assault rifles, or high capacity magazines or any specific type) will not contribute to this. It is hard not to want to do something, but let’s make sure that what we do is well-thought-out. Sometimes when you don’t have a hand to play, you don’t play one. What we should not due is mistake taking action (“We have to do SOMETHING”) with taking the WRONG action; which always exacerbates a problem, as opposed to solving it (or coming as close as possible to solving it).

    We’re smarter than this. We can’t let a knee jerk reaction to a coward (who stole the weapons he could not legally possess in the first place) who went to a place he knew would be completely unarmed sway our great nation. Let’s learn from this.

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    Though I believe most of the politicians want to stop this violence, they also seem clueless as to how to deal with it. With ridiculous propositions coming forward it seems the only political death sentence is to do nothing at all, so every legislator is coming out in support of one plan or another, despite the fact that most of these “plans” (to be charitable) are worthless. They are playing a hand when they have no hand to play. However, it’s not the worthless ones that concern most gun-owners, but rather the ones that are blatantly pursuing a track of disarming the populace at large.

    Obama himself disagreed with the Supreme Court decision to uphold the 2nd amendment as an individual’s right to bear arms in 2010. As an Illinois senator he backed every major piece of gun control legislation that crossed his desk. This doesn’t make him an idiot or evil or a tyrant bent on world domination. But it does clearly illustrate his ideological feeling on firearms. Something else about our President that can be said is that he is reasonably, if not very, intelligent.

    So it came as some surprise to the gun community that he pursued no major gun control agenda during his first term. In fact, he passed two small but appreciated measures expanding gun freedoms in places such as parks. However, there is a limit to the number of terms a President can serve, and now Mr. Obama is not on the hook to cater to the gun-toting American public. This is his last term and he knows it.

    Now let’s study the UN arms treaty timeline. The Obama administration postponed backing the treaty for months and gave no timeframe for possible approval during the entire election cycle. Therefore the issue did not come up as a problem for Obama (who as a smart person must know that the majority of citizens do not take well to attempts to disarm them). Within hours of re-election the administration ratified the treaty as written.

    This wouldn’t be too suspicious in a vacuum. We could chalk it up to a smart President knowing his constraints and choosing not only his battles wisely, but their timeframe as well. However, within moments of the story breaking about the Newtown shootings, it was stated that the scene was crawling with FBI and *ATF.* Why? This is far from the ATF’s purview, at least as first responders. Their track record as first responders is exemplified by the Waco siege in which they burned and shot dozens of people including minors (more than the 20 of Mr Lanza). The ATF will not come to help your investigation when an armed mugger breaks into your home. They deal with the lawful possession and distribution of firearms, and would have surely been in the following investigation, but how would they have had immediate knowledge that the shooter was an illegal possessor of firearms? Even stranger was the fact that initial reports across the news spectrum reported the perpetrator as having only 2 handguns. Yet hours later it was reported that the perpetrators vehicle was found to have an assault rifle which then the next day was said to have been found inside the school.

    So now we have a mysteriously appearing (and migrating) “assault rifle” and the unexplained instantaneous appearance of ATF on scene, days after the administration has approved vague and over-arching legislation at the UN level endorsing strict gun control measures. Coincidence? I’m not a paranoid person and I won’t take the Jason Whitlock approach and cry “Conspiracy,” but the timeframe of all these events seems highly suspect. To say nothing of the fact that “Fast and Furious” operations by the federal government allowed these same “assault rifles” into the hands of drug cartels so that they could use these as future argument against their legal possession in the US. The fact that it blew up in their face and they were excoriated for their calculated risk is a tribute to the educated US public at large.

    To be fair, I understand where the President, Miss Feinstein, and Miss Pelosi are coming from. The Secret Service is the highest paid most complex bodyguard service in the world. If it were at my disposal I would not see a need for personal firearm ownership either. Does anyone really believe that Mayor Bloomberg (whom I have immense personal respect for) has no security detail? That the NYPD would leave off your 911 murder call to go save him first if he were in danger? Make no mistake, these leaders and politicos require protection. But so do I. And so do you. And we are not them, with budgets in the tens of millions to be spent protecting ourselves and our families around the clock.

    Some think the police fill this role. The ratio of police to citizens is about 1 officer for every 385 people (and officers are only on duty less than 1/3 of the time, while crime never clocks out, meaning the actual ratio is 1 officer [on duty] for every 1155 or more citizens). Meanwhile the Secret Service protects a handful of people with over 3,200 full-time agents. What’s worse, the police have no mandate to protect you at all costs. They provide a “best effort” level of service which has no lower bound. Time and again unarmed (and in some cases armed) citizens have attempted to sue their local law enforcement for failing to protect them, their family members, and their belongings from criminal predation. “It is unfair,” the courts have ruled, “to hold law enforcement accountable for failure to protect individual members of the populace from crime.” There is no case, no precedent, of any ordinary citizen winning a lawsuit of this nature. So they want to tell you to disarm yourselves because the police will take care of you, but when the police cannot, they do not want to be held accountable on a case by case basis. Will we allow them to have it both ways?

    It’s often used as a derisive comment from gun-control advocates that “the United States is the only civilized country in the free world to allow such free possession of firearms.” The connection not made in that sentence is that the United States is THE greatest country on earth today or that has ever existed in human history. Gun control advocates may want to observe this connection. For every vastly unfortunate mental case that shoots up a school, how many countries, how many wars, how many invasions has our collective heritage of individual firearm ownership deterred? How many military commanders of foreign nations have advised their heads of state to not invade the US for fear of “awaking a sleeping giant which keeps a gun behind every blade of grass?”

    The emotional will argue that nothing is worth more than 20+ innocent lives, but anyone with a rudimentary grasp of numbers will disagree. All our lives are worth more than these 20, and while the cost seems unimaginably high, and our hearts are freshly wounded from the lives snatched away at such tender ages, the United States citizenry will heal from our collective heartbreak, we will continue as an armed populace against enemies foreign and domestic. Whether the foreign are nation-state militaries that would do us harm, or radical extremist terrorist groups. Whether the domestic be highly skilled criminal elements, or well-meaning politicians mistakenly punishing all in a vain attempt to stamp out the few who will commit their crimes regardless of law.

    As education levels increase so does our collective understanding that at a broad level no set of laws ever compiled is as elegant and as liberating as the Bill of Rights. Concurrently, those with knowledge of history come to see that these rights, though beautifully written and sworn to by every federal employee, would not be possible if not backed by the full power of an armed populace guaranteed and made a reality by the 2nd amendment.

    Gun enthusiasts, don’t waste any vitriol on gun control advocates. Their hearts are in the right place. They simply misunderstand that their efforts would not deter the criminal element and tragic nature of events like the Batman Rises shooting, like the Timothy McVeigh bombing; like the Newtown shooting. Instead, help them out of their ignorance by inviting one of them to learn how to handle a firearm safely. By explaining to them the odd “coincidence” that in over 200 years no American Leader has even attempted to set themselves up as a dictator, much less come close; and which amendment is responsible for that.

    Those who would advocate increased gun control, and especially those families who have lost someone to firearms: Your emotions are completely understandable. Let’s all work together to keep this from happening again, but not by passing laws which won’t have any effect. Instead of giving our support blindly to those whose agenda is to disarm the populace at large, let’s have them pass legislation focused on the secure storage and use of these elements of destruction, because no matter which laws we choose to pass as a nation, the guns are not going anywhere. The only option we have is who possesses them, the law abiding citizens, or the criminals.

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