The subject matter of this post often stirs up strong and opposing viewpoints, so please be aware that these are simply my opinions. You may agree or disagree, but if you choose to comment, please do so courteously.
* The second part of this post explains why I’ve chosen to write about this topic, as I feel it is important to explain where my thoughts and emotions are coming from.
It’s been just over a year since the Newtown, CT school shooting. A little more than a year since I read the horrifying news and saw the heart-breaking videos. It still breaks my heart today. But as time has passed, I’m more than just sad – I’m angry and frustrated too. Angry that something like this can happen and frustrated that as a nation we seem incapable – or worse, unwilling – of doing anything concrete to stop it. Instead of trying to work together to find a solution, everyone obstinately clamps down on their own opinions, unwilling to listen to others. Our government, even us as a people, has seemingly become incapable of open, civil and effective discourse on issues that really matter. And doesn’t something like gun control, mass shootings and our rising number of gun related deaths warrant such discourse?
I am aware that gun control is a complex issue, one where everyone seems to have a strong opinion on opposite ends of the spectrum. I know there are many factors that should be covered in a conversation on gun control. Perhaps the true problem with finding a solution is that no one seems to want to address the entirety of the issue. Some focus solely on the mental health aspects, others focus on the lack of control for selling and buying legal guns, while still others focus on the role of illegal weapons. These are all part of the problem and we should work on them simultaneously. It is true that in many of the mass shootings the perpetrators suffered from psychological troubles. We have heard time and time again “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” – but without guns, it is more difficult to kill. We shouldn’t ignore the mental health aspect, but we also shouldn’t forget that we’re letting these people have relatively easy access to legal weapons. That we are unable to recognize the severity of the problem and find a unified solution is disheartening.
We seem to forget that legally purchased weapons are the biggest culprit for gun-related deaths. There’s so much concern that restricting gun access infringes upon the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens, that we lose any rationality when discussing these issues. What does it say about us, that we seem more concerned with protecting our right to bear arms than protecting our people? We could drastically cut down the number of deaths due to guns; cut down all those devastating mass shootings that have become a normal part of our lives. We seem to have become de-sensitized to such crimes if the shooting of 20 children under the age of 7 does not spur us into action. Real action, not empty words.
I have lived in many different countries, and I have never seen as many reports of shootings as in the U.S. In fact, I almost never saw reports of shootings, because they were so rare. And I did not only live in Western nations. Since we moved back to the U.S. just over 3 years, I have noticed nearly daily reports of shootings and far too many mass shootings. Even that phrase betrays the depth of the issue – “far too many mass shootings”. Isn’t one already too many?
Oh, everyone is appropriately shocked after they happen – but as soon as conversation turns to gun control, one roadblock after another pops up. First it’s the supposedly caring version: it’s too early after the tragedy to talk about gun control. Then it’s the psychological view: the shooter was disturbed, so it’s the health care system that’s to blame. Then the usual slogan: ‘guns don’t kill people; people kill people’. Then we end up at the final roadblock, which I find to be so illogical, and yet so clearly sums up the problem: the true solution is that more guns are needed – “the victims should have been armed, then they could have defended themselves”.
And I worry…
* Why I Write:
Many may ask why write about a topic like gun control? Why write about something so controversial and that stirs such strong emotions?
Because it matters.
Do we not care what we’re becoming as a society anymore? Should it not matter that so many are getting killed by guns, including defenseless, innocent young children? How is it that 20 children under the age of 7 are killed and we’re still incapable of taking any real action to prevent another tragedy like that?
I worry about my future children.
I worry for all the children and all of the innocent victims.
I worry that so many seem to think that only criminals and illegal weapons are responsible for these horrifying massacres.
I worry that our government as a whole is more concerned with getting money from lobbies and getting reelected than about protecting the lives of their people.
I worry that as a society and a country we’ve become completely de-sensitized to the real tragedy of mass shootings or of any shootings really. We seem to accept them as simply another part of our daily lives. Does that not speak volumes about the gravity of the situation?
I worry that we’ll never have a real solution – not because there isn’t one, but because we’re not willing to implement it.
I worry that no matter what is said, no matter what is written, it will fall on deaf ears.
And yet, I write.
I write because of all these worries, these frustrations and these indignations.
I write because sometimes I feel that is all I can do.