Stopping Gun Violence Starts Here!
Emotion Not Logic
We Teach Kids Stop, Drop & Roll for Fire Protection
I have seen some postings on social media demanding we "stop gun violence!" I agree, we should do just that - what I disagree with is the plethora of emotional gimmicks the President of the United States and people like multi-billionaire and former Mayor of New York, Bloomberg, would have you consider.
Let's take one step back from the fray and try to cool down the emotion just for a minute on all sides of the argument. On the one hand, we have a problem that is in all regards multi-faceted at least. No matter what answer is given, it can only be a partial answer to a very broad issue. So the next step would be in deciding what the problem is and breaking it down into solvable bites we can manage.
The Ultimate Goal
What is the ultimate goal for everyone? Well, we already have division there. You see there are some people who have the goal of zero accidental deaths or injuries from firearms as their goal. Others would add to that reasonable goal that their never be another mass shooting. Still others would be that there should never be the possibility of another shooting - mass shooting or individual. Quite a number of people believe that there is inherent evil in the metal parts that come together as a firearm and when combined with chemicals that make up gun powder and bullets - jump out there and start shooting and killing people.
I put in that last line so a number of you would say - great - another gun-nut that just doesn't get it and wants to make everyone who is against guns look way out there. No, not at all, but just so you know - there are real people who do believe that way.
My point is that we have to figure out what is a reasonable goal. What is it we are trying to attain? The Second Amendment guarantees (and the Supreme Court has agreed) the rights of citizens to own firearms. So citizens are going to own firearms. A large group of well funded people believe if we can just collect all the guns then gun violence will disappear from America, which means confiscation of all citizens guns. It hasn't worked anywhere it has been tried, although they will try to sell you that it has. Do some research - it hasn't. Again, what are we trying to do? Reduce the chances of gun violence.
OK, so we want to reduce the chances of gun violence. Can we agree to define gun violence as an illegal act? That takes away a few other definitions from this discussion. Gun accidents, if it is gun violence we are stopping is an accident really violence? So let's remove that for now (although I will pick up on it later). Are suicides "gun violence?" I don't think it fits the description of Newtown or Fort Hood. It doesn't fit the description of Freddie Grey or Michael Brown. According to President Obama it is responsible for 2 of 3 gun related deaths (20,000 out of 30,000). So let's focus on the last few thousand violent situations attributed to guns.
The Suburban Ran Over 10 People Before Being Stopped by a Tree!
Reporters write stuff like the headline above. Not that Mary Jo Smith, driving a Suburban, ran over 10 people - but that the Suburban did it. Guns shot 70 people in Chicago last week! Dang, my guns must be lazy! I have them in the same room with ammunition for weeks on end and they have never shot anyone! Wait, I guess someone would have had to load them, point them, and actually pulled the trigger for that to have occurred - so wouldn't the person not the gun be responsible for that action?
President Obama says in some areas it is cheaper for a 13 year old to buy a gun than a book, and he intends to change that! What does that mean? He is going to tax the sale of illegal guns so they are more expensive? He is going to make the illegal seller of the stolen guns register and get a Federal Firearms License before he sells illegally to minors - but will register the stolen firearm in the transaction? Maybe he is really mad and going to lower the cost of books?
You Can't Be Trained - You are Just A Woman
At a recent Town Hall meeting on guns held by President Obama, a young lady stood before the President and very confidently asked why he was making it more difficult for people like her to purchase and own guns - as she had been brutally victimized and raped and said this won't happen again so she has her own gun to protect herself and her children. The president basically said to her, having a gun in the home may lead to a tragic accident and you would need quite a bit of training to know how to handle yourself and a firearm in the event of an attack (not knowing if the lady had gone to any NRA sponsored firearms training classes or not). Keep in mind, only two weeks earlier women were demoted to being allowed to fight in any combat roll (with guns) in the Army. Basically, the president just said - look, you are a woman, you can't suggest having a gun would be in any way a deterrent or equalizer!
Where Is The Answer?
Again, what is the question? If you want to ask how we eliminate the chance of gun violence or move it to a risk of 1 in 1,000,000 chance of occurring, we have to start having more gun violence. You see, right now, if we had 3 mass shootings per year that would be 3 in 313,000,000 people. If we had 300 (More than 30 times what we normally see), it would be closer to 1 in 1 million. Would you agree there are more than 1 in 1 million nutcases walking around the streets of the US? Why aren't there 290 more mass shootings per year already? There are 200,000,000 guns with ammunition out there - at least - so it seems logical we should be seeing mass shootings every day X 100. But we don't.
I coach kids in competitive shotgun shooting. From 12 years old to college age, learning first firearms safety then how to shoot - eventually how to shoot well. We used to go the the National Competition every year and the Nebraska teams would clean our clock! I asked about their practice schedule and the coach told me they practice right there at the school. I said, wait, you mean the mom jumps in the station wagon and drives 70 miles one way to bring little Johnny his shotgun and a bag of shells for each day's practice? He said, "Heck no, little Johnny gets on the bus with his book bag in one hand and his shotgun and ammo in the other hand!" Then he said, "you see, its the guns that are the problem!" BINGO!
The kids I coach are usually the cream of the crop. Respectful, smart, unique athletes that maybe haven't excelled in football or soccer, but still athletes with skills and eye hand coordination. But most of all they learn safety - respect - and safety. These kids shoot in competitions affiliated with their schools in the case of the ones I work with currently, or with their county - but have been regulated and provided trained coaches through that boogie man terrible organization that trains more people including police officers than anyone else - the NRA. The NRA even has a program that literally received the "Good Housekeeping Seal" as well as endorsement by dozens of Governors around the US to teach firearms safety to children called Eddie Eagle. At the start of this dialog I mentioned and you probably remembered fire safety of "Stop, drop, and roll" if you were to catch fire. The Eddie Eagle program teaches through word finds, coloring books, videos, and lecture that when kids find or come across a gun they should "Stop, Don't Touch, Leave the Area, Tell an Adult!" Yes, that radical organization tells kids to not touch that and tell an adult. Yet many schools ban the program, even though it says nothing about firearms ownership, the 2nd Amendment, anything political in the material for kids or for their parents - because it is offered free by the NRA. In school systems where the program has been instituted, even school systems in urban settings, the number of firearm accidents involving children plummets or is eliminated all together. Macon, Georgia implemented Eddie Eagle almost 25 years ago, and even though I don't have current numbers I do know that for 20 years in the program they didn't have a single accident involving kids. The books are cheaper than guns, President Obama. To use his own line - "If we could prevent just one accident...."
"If We Could Just Prevent One..."
This is a false or straw man argument and I will explain. If we could prevent just one death or accident is it always worth changing things to do so? Apparently when it comes to guns it is. Let's think about that. There are a small number of people shot by police officers in the United States every year - some few of them may well be unjustified. If we removed firearms from all of the police, sheriffs, CIA, NSA, Secret Service, we could, by definition, potentially prevent one death by gun violence, wouldn't you agree? But would that be stupid? I hope you would also agree. This administration has made military decisions to remove guns from our troops in military bases in hostile areas and it has resulted in "green on blue" shootings where the locals are still allowed to have their guns but our guys aren't.
OK, you are saying that is just ludicrous, of course we wouldn't take all the guns away from police and law enforcement. If you are saying that you are missing my point. How many more gun deaths would occur if no law enforcement had firearms? So if we are just talking about citizens, what if we confiscated every firearm in the United States? 200 million of them that we know about. Made it a law that you had to turn in your guns or face jail time or fines or both.
That would do it, wouldn't it? No one would have a gun legally anymore. No one would be able to commit terrible mass shootings again. Suicides would come to an end. No more accidental shootings. 30,000 people would be alive at the end of the year that would not have been before the round-up. Only law enforcement would have firearms and the military of course.
Wait, hold on there. Just how many times a day are firearms used by law abiding citizens to prevent a crime and never fire a shot? If those firearms are gone, what are those same law abiding citizens going to use, a fork? Literally hundreds of thousands of cases a year are thwarted by a law abiding citizen that would no longer be stopped. Keep in your mind that these are law abiding citizens - not the lawless criminals who didn't follow gun laws before they were enacted.
The bumper sticker on my 1973 Vega said "When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns." Back to President Obama's statement, "If we can prevent only one..." do you see now why that doesn't work? Only outlaws will have guns - so if they can go into any gun free zone today and wreak havoc killing at will - when the entire country becomes a gun free zone where will it end?
Concealed Carry vs Open Carry
Personally I'm not a fan of Open Carry. In a situation where a bad guy enters a business with nefarious intentions, and he can see who has a gun, who do you think he is going to shoot first? If the same guy enters with the same intentions and can't tell, he has to think twice which may well take him long enough to allow the right person to thwart his crime - it has happened many times. If someone wants to carry open, and it is legal, fine, but as in anything they are 100% responsible for all related actions because of their choice. I just feel like it can be provocative in its own and isn't needed in most cases. I do see changing some laws where having to put my shotgun in the trunk and my ammunition separated in another compartment of the vehicle as overreach. Or separating my personal protection weapon, whatever that is, from the ammunition while traveling as stupid. It is nothing more than a rock at that point. But it is an example of a law that is different from one jurisdiction to another where someone could be arrested just driving from Georgia to Iowa to go pheasant hunting and break a law without any ill intention.
So What Is the Answer!
Personal responsibility is no longer a part of our language. It starts with everyone getting a trophy for participation. It starts with little Johnny's "feelings" being more important than his obeying rules. It starts even earlier with little Johnny's daddy marrying his mother and being there to help raise him. It is even bigger where little Johnny's father has a job and his mother isn't dependent of the government for their income, housing, food, and transportation.
In New York City, kids that commit what would have been a crime now get a "Warning Card" that doesn't even have a place for a parent to sign. No responsibility for bad behavior. But it isn't just New York City - it is everywhere. Schools aren't reporting criminal activity because they don't get money if their statistics don't improve! Can you believe that?
Would you believe a teacher cannot tell students to turn off their cell phones and put them away during class? During tests? Want to know where the answer is on gun violence? It begins with society remembering responsibility for their communities and their country.
A Word About Diversity
America used to be known as the "Melting Pot." When you take the best from many countries around the world and bring those best minds together on a regular basis with a common set of rational beliefs and commitments. Then, sometime in the 80's, groups seeking their own piece of the pie separate from everyone else, pushed to be recognized for their contribution separate from the whole. It was their "diversity" that made the difference and improved society. It was politically incorrect to not recognize their separate diverse ingredient in the now "tossed salad" of America. Well now 30 years later - we are a divided country, more divided now in some cases than before the Civil War. How is that working for you? We divide now on race, national origin, sexual perversion, age, accent, educational level, but certainly don't look for any commonality. That would be racist or homophobic or anti-women or something negative.
The reason that fits into this offering is because some cultures don't believe life matters as much as others. In the United States up until the 1980s, before diversity, the idea that devaluing life itself wasn't on the drawing board. It is now. Judaeo-Christian beliefs had been the primary system for the huge majority of Americans until that time. Atheists, individuals of other faiths, Islam, have been heavily weighted into the system and supported by television and movies - music - and has reduced the value of life itself with a large part of the citizenry. So why does it matter if someone kills someone else? Will that ever be seen as not being a crime? It that too far out there? There are a lot of things that used to be unacceptable but are just common as dirt now - so is it really too far to go? I surely hope so, but when do we reign it in and who will do it?
This is NUTS!
Going back to the 20,000 suicides and attempted suicides in the United States that make up 2/3 of the gun violence according to President Obama. Let's throw into that group "suicide by cop" where a perp knows he is outgunned but wants to end it all so he intentionally draws down on a cop or a dozen cops. Let's also include in this group the people we have seen in the US involved in mass shootings. I'll explain.
Now look at who these people are. Suicide is a terrible, terrible thing. I will not minimize the effect it has on all those people affected by someone making a choice to end their life. The factors in their life, whether it is a physical or mental health issue, drugs, relationship situation, whatever that is that puts them in the situation to end their life - they will ultimately be successful. Blaming guns for being effective is just wrong. I had a very good friend who was in a terrible marriage. She attempted suicide by being in her vehicle in her own garage. Someone found her before she died and she had to go for evaluation and help...in a hospital where everyone was trying to kill themselves. She was released, but now with the knowledge of what she had done wrong the last time. What a terrible loss - but it makes my point, if they are going to do it, a lot of other things are going to have to change - otherwise they will find a way. Taking away firearms from the other 199,980,000 because of the actions of 20,000 doesn't make much sense, does it?
The people from the boy in Newtown to the theater in Colorado who were not terrorist oriented, generally were known to have "issues." President Obama, to his credit, says he will provide funding for research about gun violence. Unfortunately, his goals do not align with finding out how to help these people - instead he wants the CDC studying how to take guns from law abiding citizens as research. That is documented. Why does your doctor need to know if you have a gun in your closet? Why is he asking your son or daughter? CDC research - where that information is now part of a larger government database. Instead of helping these people who will harm themselves, we are more concerned with disarming everyone.
Let' Wrap This Up
Back to the question, how do we stop gun violence? Stop the misinformation, recognize the problem where it is and why and start there. Further restrictions and actions against law abiding citizens will have, again the President's own words, "....no effect on any of the crimes and shootings that have occurred." We have gun laws on the books this president and his administration refuse to enforce for two reasons. One reason is if they enforced them, the problem wouldn't be as bad and he wouldn't be able to make his case - the second and just as despicable - if they did enforce the laws on the books he would be considered racist due to the unbalanced number of minorities that would be going to jail for a long time. So don't look for either to happen. Background checks on the law abiding do very little - but if you require the sellers to get an FFL and register all their guns to sell one - now all those guns are registered. Remember, that person didn't do anything wrong and there is a 99.9998% chance they won't do anything wrong, but if we want to confiscate all of his guns at some point in the future we now have a list.
When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. I never thought of myself as an outlaw. I hope we just get a better idea of who the problem is before these intentions move forward.