Gun Violence in America – What Now?

Where will the next massacre happen?
Where will the next massacre happen?

Last weekend I awoke before the dawn and switched on my computer. I boiled the jug, poured myself a quiet cuppa (my family was still safely tucked up in their beds). I flicked on the computer and started my morning routine of reading

the news headlines. One jumped out at me and hit me suqare between the eyes – like a baseball bat making firm contact with a sinking fastball sending a frozen rope to deep left-field.

In fact it did more than make contact – the headline made my stomach drop, my head spin, and my eyes haze over. I clicked on the story and read, in stunned silence, what was known at the time. Another school shooting had happened in my home country – and this time the majority of the victims were children of the same age as my little girl. The media outlets called the story “breaking news” perhaps this is because hearts were breaking all over the world already.

I flipped on the TV to double-check that this was actually happening. That the online world hadn’t set up some cruel joke. But, no…it wasn’t a cruel joke. It was a harsh reality. And, as a throng of media descended upon Newtown, CT I sat silently in deep thought asking the same question that the most of America was asking and is still asking now:
How has this happened again? Good god, how has this happened again…

What we’ve learned in the ensuing days is pretty stats-quo really. A mentally troubled young man who lived in a house where guns were accessible snapped. He murdered his mother in cold blood and then drove to a primary school. He then shot and killed 20 small children and 6 adults in quick succession before taking himself out of the equation.

I can’t imagine the horror of the families and the community of Newtown. The shock. The numbness. I’m far removed, my child is safe and accounted for – yet my heart is broken. My mind is disbelieving. My amazing country, a place of hopes and dreams and liberty allowed this to happen. How in the hell do we keep allowing this to happen?

I personally abhor guns. I was raised around them (hunting in Missouri is a past-time “in season”), I’ve been trained in their safe usage, and I’ve fired them. I understand the power of guns and how easily they can take lives away. For this reason, I’ve never owned one – and most likely never will. That said, I don’t think Americans should be disarmed – so to speak. I do however question the ridiculous arguments of  self-professed gun enthusiatsts who believe that owning semi-automatic asualt weapons is a “sport”.

Bullshit. That’s what that is. Guns like the ones used in Newtown shouldn’t be in the population – they shouldn’t. The gun laws in Newtown, CT didn’t fail. The cowardly, troubled young man who committed these crimes wasn’t able to legally obtain a weapon. But he didn’t need to, did he? His mother had an arsenal of weapons and ammunition at his disposal. I ask you – did this woman “need” all of these weapons? No. Did she like having them? Yes. You know what…I don’t care if people like having guns anymore, this is getting Guns stupid.

When our founding fathers said that the American public had the right to bear arms they were thinking in the context of the times. The USA was a wild land where English troops forced new colonists to quarter them. The rifles were single or double shot and took a while to reload – if the writers of our constitution knew what guns would be like in time, I’m sure they’d have had other provisions written into the consitution – at least into law.

Now, just for a minute, let’s step away from the issue of guns. Let’s think about mental health problems as well as the fact that people hellbent on hurting others will ultimately find a way to do so whether they use guns or not. Firstly – the USA needs to address mental health issues with more guts.

We’re so politically correct about everything that helping families with members that need mental treatment are, a lot of the time, not given the support they need. Guns, voilent video games, violent movies and everything else don’t make normal human beings want to go out and shoot up a school full of children or blow up a building – but, for people with mental health issues, they help blur the lines between reality and fiction. How will we help families and mental patients? I don’t know the answer to this.

Changing tack to not “blaming” guns for violence in America – I heard an argument today that said “A 747 was used to kill 5000 people, but you don’t see them (America) banning airplanes!” What a stupid, ridiculous, dumbass argument. Seriously? Not many people (especially crazy people) are given the controls to a jumbo jet and told to fly. By not addressing the problem that having so many guns so readily available in the States we’re not addressing a causational effect. I get the argument – baseball bats, crowbars, knives…they all are used as murder weapons, but they’re not outlawed! No, they’re not because, like guns, most sane people don’t use them to hurt others. However, it seems to me guns are used to kill Be it animals or people – something’s got to give.

Today I had someone (non-American) tell me I was sensationalist and emotional. Sensationalist? Let’s try passionate, shall we. And emotional? Well, f*ck yes I’m emotional! Something’s not right in my country – a country I am damn proud to call home. And you can’t change things without emotion and without passion and without a good dose common sense – which seems to be lacking in Washington DC these days.

I could go on for ages about this. About how I believe that the media fuels the flames of violence by holding murderers up as martyrs of evil. What would happen if all Americans never watched NBC, CNN or Fox again? What if we never clicked on the story to find out about the thoughts/tweets/FB updates of the latest massacremurderer? I can tell you now it won’t happen. The media is feeding the public a big dose of drama, and we’re all letting us spoon feed us. Someone in power needs to grow a pair and say “Enough is enough!” we will not show the face of evil. We will not immortalize them or burn their image in our collective psychies.

NewtownKidsSomeone, anyone…stand up for the kids. For our nation. Not for the “right” to own weapons. I hope beyond hope we never, ever have to face a day where school teachers feel they need to be armed. I hope beyond hope we never, ever have to raise our children to look for exits and escape routes on play grounds. And I hope beyond hope that, more than anything, we start changing our society.

Pick apart my argument. Get angry. Get passionate. Whatever you do…whether you agree with me or not…just don’t sit back and accept the status quo. You want to keep your guns? What price are you willing to pay for your “freedom”?

President Obama spoke eloquently about enacting change – let’s see if he, and if we as a nation, can actually get anything done. I believe that we can do better for our kids, and for their kids after them. As I’m sure you can tell, I’ve written this in haste. My arguments aren’t as clear or as thought out as I would usually put down on paper – but I believe time is of the essence. We cannot let the importance of enacting change quickly – before the pain dulls and our memories fade – happen. C’mon America, we can do this!

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