Monday, June 13, 2016

Growing Up with Guns

As the nation wrings its hands over yet another mass shooting - 50 people dead in Orlando in what appears to be a homophobic rage - and the "thoughts and prayers" that do absolutely nothing are prostituted by the politicians, I sit and wonder about a solution to this obviously major problem.

Statistics and numbers can be jockeyed around and source matters, but a source I like, and believe to be close, states that in 2010, just over 31,000 U.S. citizens died because of guns.

That's the total population of my county, just about. In one year, everyone around me was wiped out. And this happens year in and year out. On average, there are 33 homicides a day in the U.S. There are 49 suicides committed each day in the U.S. That means that around 80 people a day die in the U.S. because either someone shot them, or they shot themselves. So every year, somewhere close to 30,000 people die.

Every year.

Back in May, we had a food recall of over 400 items because of the possibility that these products were tainted with listeria. If I remember correctly, eight people died or were sickened. Not even a dozen, and we did something.

I am in favor of more stringent gun control laws. I think the current questions on the gun purchase forms are jokes, and the background checks are, too. Apparently even if you have certain things on your police record, or if the FBI is watching you, you can still buy a gun.

Here close to me, a young man with a known history of psychiatric problems was able to buy a gun, legally, and he shot up Virginia Tech in 2007, which, up until this weekend, was the largest mass shooting in the USA in this century.

I don't see why we can't regulate guns like we do cars. I don't see where regulations violate the Second Amendment. I mean, it spells it out right there, "A well-regulated militia." It even uses the word regulated. That means to control or direct, by rules or laws.

Regulations already exist. I can't go out and buy a tank and drive it down Main Street. I can't own a bazooka or a machine gun.

To drive a car, I have to produce a birth certificate, take a test, and have a license. I also have to have insurance or pay an uninsured motorists fee. I have to have the vehicle inspected annually.

I have no problem with having to take a test or a class in order to own a gun. When I was in middle school, gun safety was a featured class. We all took it. It was required. We learned how to safely handle a weapon, how they worked, and what they could do (kill and maim), and when to use them. At the end, we received a gun safety certificate.

I don't know when they stopped giving these courses in school, but I think, given our gun culture, that such classes should become available again. Teach kids to respect guns, not honor them.

My father had guns. I owned a gun when I was 10 years old, a little .22 caliber survival gun. It was black and it came apart so that its pieces could fit into the empty stock for easy carrying. I learned how to break the thing down and put it back together. I was a good shot, knocking cans and things off of fence posts. (Yes, I was too young to be handling a gun, but that is how things are done around here.)

I did not hunt or shoot at living things. I knew better. I feel spiritually sick when animals are killed in front of me. However, I live in the country and knowing how to properly use a gun, even if it is just a .22, is, if not a necessity, prudent.

Other people take great sport in shooting and killing, and do not feel the spiritual aspect of the death of an animal. My husband, brother, father, nephews, and others hunt. These are all men; I know there are women who hunt but I am not aware of any of my kin who do.

Personally, I'd rather shoot at things with my camera, so that is what I do.

My answer to the problem of gun violence is regulation. This doesn't mean you can't have a gun, unless you've some reason not to have one. If you're a spouse beater, you shouldn't have a gun. If someone takes out a restraining order against you, you shouldn't have a gun. If you're depressed and suicidal, you shouldn't have a gun. There are many reasons not to have a gun, reasons that good classes, professional oversight, and more honest background checks would ferret out. Or so one would hope.

I don't see regulations happening, so this post is nothing more than a musing, my thoughts on the matter. It is as useful as the "thoughts and prayers" of the proselytizing politicians. I think it is horrible that we will recall food for eight deaths and do nothing over 50. I don't run the world. I do vote, not that I am sure it matters, but there you go.

Death is sad. Loss is terrible. Orlando, like Virginia Tech, will be scarred for a long time. I think the nation, over all, is already scarred and battered. I also think that since 9-11, we've become a bunch of scared little children, fearful of our own shadow, and that is really why people want their guns.

Because in the deepest of any heart, fear strangles logic, and wins out every time.

(Comments are off.)