First things first: I believe we have the right to bear arms. Even in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy, I do not think we all need to give up our guns and destroy every weapon inside American borders. I believe in the forefathers’ principles that explicitly state we have the right to take up arms against a tyrannical government hellbent on enslaving its people. Yes, that, okay. All for it. Ra Ra United States, Liberty, Freedom Rules, Do Not Tread On Me, etc, etc.
Now, go read this. God, I worship the quicksand Lili walks on sometimes.
What I believe ALONG with the right to bear arms is responsible management of a tool designed to kill things. Regulate the people, not the instrument. Facts am facts, guns have no other purpose than destruction. This means I believe in training and education for carriers and — cry about it if you want — wait periods before you walk out with your boomstick. This means screening for people that wish to own something that serves no other purpose than to destroy. I believe that people with a medical history of mental instability or a criminal record — yes, even fucking misdemeanors because rules aren’t as hard to follow as you think they are — should not have access to guns. In the case of the non-violent misdemeanor, maybe one day you can have your gun, but prove you’re a rule-abiding member of society before you get your license to shoot. I believe that people should have to go in for a micro-screen before they renew their gun permit because circumstances change and things happen in life, like messy divorces and job loss, and the person you were a year ago is not the person you are now.
Regulating how easy it is to go get a gun is not infringing on anyone’s rights. It’s not taking weapons away or ruining Sally’s Shoot ‘Em Up Christmas. Most responsible gun owners won’t really be effected in the long run by a longer screening process, anyway. They’d go through their clearance, have their new shiny in a week or two, and they can hunt and shoot bottles and go to the range and do everything they could before, just two weeks later. The NRA folks would (by a vast majority) have all of the same cool things they have now, just with a little more paperwork involved. What regulations would do, however, is make the guy that’s roided up on rage and hate have to cool his jets. It’d give him two weeks to really think about things, and maybe that’s enough time for him to change his mind. It’d give a trained mental health professional the chance to advise against a gun license for him and maybe just save a life. Or twenty.
I don’t believe the answer to gun violence is to give people more guns. People pushing for armed teachers? No, thank you. I had an unstable teacher in fifth grade that threw a kid into a locker and was fired for his rage issues midway through the year. Sure, let’s give that guy a gun. Only not. If I had a kid, I wouldn’t want it in a household with a gun never mind a classroom, because you can’t get accidentally shot if the gun’s not there in the first place. Plus, putting the burden of, “You need to have this just in case” on our already under-appreciated, under-paid teachers sucks. It’s just one more thing. Should schools have a lockdown policy, a trained professional on site (as in security) and a buzz-in policy for kid pick-up during class hours? Yes, probably. Metal detectors would likely help, too. But go there before you decide to perpetuate the easy access to firearms thing.
Also? And this is probably something that deserves its own post, but I believe mental health can no longer be deemed a suburban, Prozac Princess thing. It’s a real, toxic problem for a lot of people. As a person who navigated the system WITH good insurance, it was a nightmare at times to get the help I needed. For people without the benefit of insurance, there’s nothing out there for them. The resources are ridiculously limited. And while it’s great that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can walk into a hospital when they’re bleeding to death and get attended, what about the guy whose brain is just fucking broken? Whose chemicals are off the charts? Who thinks that popping caps in little kids is the only way to get attention? He needs just as much help as someone whose been eviscerated. It’s just a different kind of help and it doesn’t exist.
The long and short of my post is this: what happened in Arizona and Aurora and Connecticut is too commonplace now to ignore. We can’t just say crazies be crazing and leave it at that. It might be ten million little things we can do to change the system so we’re safer, but we have to look into doing them. More cops, gun regulation, mental health resources for all – something. It has to start somewhere. Arizona didn’t start the ball rolling. Aurora didn’t. Maybe it takes this mindless, tragic sacrifice for people to realize something is really fucking wrong here. And on that note? Yesterday, twenty two children were wounded in a knife attack in China. Yesterday, twenty of our kids died. Something is seriously broken when China’s got it all over us.