Saturday, June 20, 2015

So tired of this

I am very frustrated with the state of affairs in the U.S. today; this will come as no shock to anyone who knows me. It has taken a particularly nasty turn over the past few days. A dear old friend of mine is very angry with me because I have dared to question the sanity of America's destructive love affair with guns. He says I shouldn't talk about it in the aftermath of Charleston, that it's just playing politics. Perhaps we should spend more time away from these incidents decrying the gun obsession, but we don't. Then, when things like Charleston happen, as they inevitably do in our country, the pro-gun crew try to shush anyone who complains about it. That's how they change the subject.

I have shared this before, but it remains one of the better responses to the gun crisis in America, so I share it again:

Matt Gottschling, a friend from Portland, with whom I had the pleasure of teaching for a couple of years, posted this after another mass shooting a few years ago. It is the most reasonable response I've heard so far.

"A lot of pro-gun advocates use the argument that “vehicles kill people too, and no one talks about banning them”. Okay, let’s treat guns like vehicles. Here’s how:

1. Require those who wish to own a gun to first... obtain a license. They must pass a test, complete a background check, and periodically have to renew their license. First-time gun owners should also have to take a course on gun safety, and how to properly secure their firearms.
2. Those who have conditions that prevent them from safely operating vehicles are not legally allowed to operate vehicles. The same should be true of guns.
3. Require all firearms to be registered. Also, any transactions of firearms (whether sold by a dealer, at a gun show, or by private parties) must include an official transfer of title or bill of sale (just as a vehicle does).
4. Vehicles can not be purchased or operated by the very young, despite the fact that they are not intentionally designed to hurt people. Guns are designed to hurt people, and yet I know many who believe that it is okay for young children to operate them.
5. Vehicles can’t be used everywhere. I can’t drive my car on a sidewalk, in a store, or through a park. Guns should not be allowed anywhere and everywhere. Contrary to what elected officials in my former state believe, guns should never be carried in schools, bars, or college campuses – except of course by law enforcement officials.
6. Vehicles have regulations to ensure their safe operation. Guns should as well. I can’t drive a vehicle that is forty feet wide and seventy feet long – even if it makes me feel empowered and awesome. Guns that serve functions that go well beyond the reasonable uses of “sport” or “self-defense” should not be legal. No automatic or semi-automatic weapons. No extended magazines. No armor piercing bullets.

There's no way of knowing if any of these ideas would prevent a tragedy like the one that occurred yesterday. However, I believe that it is important to fundamentally change our "gun culture" in this nation. I do not believe that it is too soon to have this conversation. If we won't do anything about it in the aftermath of such a stupid and senseless act, then when will we?"

I'd much rather find a way to restrict access to guns, as they did in the U.K. when there was a massacre like this. I don't think that will happen. Maybe I will just keep posting this every time one of these gun massacres happen. At least until there is no one left to read it.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.