You should be, too.
Americans should be incensed.
The entirety of media has been inundated with responses to the unforgivably horrid tragedy that befell Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. The liberals are crying out for gun control, the conservatives have their crosshairs on the FBI for having missed signs of impending irrational doom from the murderer. Forty-five offered thoughts and prayers. Again.
Again - a school was targeted.
Again - students and teachers were murdered.
Again - an AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon was used.
Again - parents are burying their babies.
Again - a white male perpetrated the murders.
Again - vigils will be held.
As a teacher, I think, often of what I would do if a shooter entered our building. I could jump out of the window - two floors above the grass below. My students and I may break our ankles, or legs, but we'd still be alive. We have been through ALICE training as a staff. For those of you who don't know what ALICE is, the acronym stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Confront, Evacuate. How often do you have to consider these scenarios as part of your daily life? It's my reality. For fuck's sake, I went to school to be a teacher. To read books with students, to raise the level of articulation in their writing, to talk about how author's make commentary on humanity - and now some of you want me to be armed? I am a teacher. I TEACH.
I've seen the arguments. I've read the articles, the comments, the memes, the cartoons.
It's a gun issue.
It's not a gun issue, it's a mental health issue.
The second amendment; the only way to stop a bad guy with guns, is a good guy with guns.
Rules aren't going to stop bad guys; if they want to do harm they'll find a way.
It always comes back to the gun argument, doesn't it?
A charged and frenetic discussion, at that. Why is it that a pole has shown that *most* Americans are in favor of increased gun legislation, but nothing has been done? I know, I know - it's not a gun issue, it's a people issue. Gun owners are afraid that the government is coming for their firearms, and that "..the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.." will be infringed upon. And it's not like the US has an inordinate number of folks who live with mental illness. Girls also deal with mental illness just as much as boys, but it seems as though white males are the ones doing the harm.
So why do we have such an issue with mass shootings?
First let me say: keep your guns, folks. No one is trying to take them all away.
I'm all for responsible gun ownership. While I'm not a fan of guns myself, I don't think everyone should be stripped of their firearms - really. Go ahead, protect yourselves and your families with your handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Keep them locked appropriately. Practice gun safety.
What I'm for is common sense gun reform.
I get that most guns sold and collected in the United States are semi-automatic, firing a single shot with every pull, automatically reloading between shots. But gun owners - I ask this of you: Why do you need to own an "assault weapons" such as TEC9s and AR15s? Those aren't necessary to protect yourselves and your families. Why do these need to be available to civilians? And my goodness, a zero waiting period at that in some states to make such a purchase.
There is a steep mountain of gun reform to climb in this country, and it's going to take a whole lotta folks, knocking down some serious money-backed walls, and maybe even those who have remained silent. The ones who own guns, but perhaps don't agree with the NRA. Frankly, it's daunting to consider the idea of controlling firearms traffic in a country with hundreds of millions of citizens and almost as many guns. The students of Florida that are speaking out and pointing fingers at the adults in this country who govern our laws, are making waves. They are angry, and they are doing something. Let's not forget, as well, the tireless crusade of the parents turned activists, left devastated by the horror in Newtown. Who else is going to march, protest, write letters, call representatives, and join this conversation, willing and ready to DO SOMETHING?
Gun control laws won't eradicate all problems - we'd be naive to believe so. But why not make things a little harder? Often I hear the argument that cars are lethal objects, and if we're going to strip folks of their guns, shouldn't we take cars away then, too? Where would it stop? Take a moment, though and look at history. As we have learned better, we do more. Regulations WERE put into place with cars. Laws were made about seat belt usage, speed limits, and now, even cell phone usage while driving. Does it stop everyone from breaking those laws? Of course not, but many people DO in fact follow those rules, and lives HAVE been saved. We as a country and society put limits on several facets of life, including how many animals one can own, what blood alcohol level is acceptable while driving, how many hours you can work as a minor, etc. We don't stop instituting laws and following rules simply because we know that not everyone will follow them. We don't throw our hands up in the air and yell, why bother! Good grief, by many accounts we are a civilized society, and we follow rules. Just read Lord of the Flies if you'd like an alternative version of life without parameters.
We ask folks to apply for permits, take tests, and seek licenses to own and operate cars - can't, at minimum, we ask that? How about:
- Permits to own and operate all firearms.
- Required registration of all firearms, that requires yearly renewals.
- A ban on assault style firearms like TEC9s and AR15s.
- Ban the use of bump stocks (or any other device that could be used to modify guns so that they become automatic).
- Ban the sale of large magazines and armor-piercing bullets.
- Extended waiting periods, and background checks on ALL purchases (close the gun show and private sale loopholes).
- Require certification and tests that have to be renewed.
- Do not allow those deemed mentally ill, or with a history of violent crimes, to own guns.