Thursday, February 15, 2018
American Gun Violence: What's the Answer?
The following blog is my opinion and my opinion only. I do not write this to offend or call out any group or person. I am expressing my opinion. If you do not wish to hear my opinion, or of you prefer telling someone they're wrong or stupid for not agreeing with you rather than having a calm discussion about differences of opinion, I would ask that you refrain from reading the following.
By reading beyond this point you are not saying you agree with me, but that you will refrain from abusive, insulting language when expressing a different opinion.
Those of you who know me know I don't get involved in much when it comes to politics or expressing an opinion on world events. It's not that I don't have political views or that I'm uninformed, it's just that I don't feel the need to force my views on others. Live and let live.
But today I feel compelled to speak out.
What did it for me was the mass shooting yesterday at a school in Florida. I was watching the coverage and all I could think of was, "how many more of these images of our children running out of schools do we have to have before something is done?"
It does not matter which political party you belong to, or if you don't belong to one at all. It does not matter what religion you are, or if you don't worship at all. IF YOU ARE A HUMAN, you should be looking at these pictures and saying ENOUGH.
Don't misunderstand me, people to have the right to own a gun if they want to and are legally able to. I don't think MORE gun laws are the answer because laws only affect law abiding citizens. Those determined to do harm and break laws will.
But something needs to be done. I've said too often, "Thoughts and prayers." As a Christian, my faith is in God, and I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that God gave us brains and the tools we need to survive. Why do we go to doctors, if God is the ultimate healer? Because God gave the doctors their brains and technicians the skills to perform the operations and use the tools that heal.
So yes, my thoughts and prayers go to the families in Florida who have lost loved ones. I weep for you.
But people, honestly, how much longer must this go on?
I, for one, can no longer watch the images and think, it's a random thing. It's not. It's the middle of February and we're already near 30 mass shootings in this country (media sources vary from 20-30), 8 of which have been in schools (No one varies on that fact).
I'll give you a moment to absorb that.
Schools are supposed to be a place of learning, a place where children learn to socialize and interact with other people who might not look, speak, act, or worship like them. I realize kids are human and therefore not perfect, but honestly, the WORST thing that should be on the radar in a school is kids picking on kids, which a teacher, a parent, or a guidance counselor can deal with.
Grief counseling should NOT be a common thing in schools.
We are so careful these days to not cause offense for any reason...but I think we're missing something someplace. While we're building gender neutral bathrooms and outlawing bake sales, and arguing about the Oxford comma (which I'm in favor of), all for the good of the kids, we're still letting people walk into buildings and slaughter our children.
We are so divided when it comes to matters of faith, politics, ideas, life choices, lifestyles, opinions, and race, that we can't band together and figure out a way to keep people from walking into buildings and slaughtering our children.
While we're wrapped up in the latest Hollywood or DC scandal about who sexually assaulted someone (I include myself in the list of women who have been harassed and/or assaulted), we can't stop pointing fingers long enough to figure out how to keep people from WALKING INTO BUILDINGS AND SLAUGHTERING OUR CHILDREN.
The point is, I'm not belittling all the other issues we have in our society because we have many and they are serious. But shouldn't our first priority be to stop people from walking into buildings and slaughtering our children?
What's the answer?
Some will say a better mental health care system.
I'm all for that. But blaming mass shootings on the mentally ill is a cop out. It's a crutch. I have known several mentally ill people, I live with mentally ill people, and I live with my own depression. And NOT ONCE have any of those people thought it was a good idea to walk into a school and start shooting. The vast majority of mentally ill people in this country understand that it's wrong to go into a school or a movie theater or any public place and start killing people.
But still, better mental health care is a good idea. Maybe a system where needing mental healthcare wasn't still looked on as a failing of some kind.
Some will say, outlaw assault weapons.
I'm totally in agreement on this. And gun fans, don't start with the "if you take the assault rifles away, you'll start taking away hunting rifles."
It's not a slippery slope. It's common sense. There is not ONE PERSON, except possibly the military, who NEEDS to fire off 13.3 rounds PER SECOND. I'm not a hunter, but my guess is if you hunt like that, you're going to obliterate the animal you're shooting. And how many targets do you REALLY need to blow away like that? No, common sense tells me that the only reason someone wants a gun like that is to cause massive trouble. (Go ahead, yell at me, but when the Founding Fathers said, "right to bear arms" they were NOT thinking about a gun that could potentially kill 12 people a second.)
This opinion is backed up by stats.
Some will say, outlaw guns completely, like other countries. Or really restrict gun ownership.
Here are some facts about other countries and their gun laws.
Here's where those in favor of the 2nd Amendment get really prickly. I'm not a revolutionist. I'm not about banning an Amendment.
But do we all need so many guns? REALLY?
I've heard people justify buying a gun because "Obama is going to take away our guns." Seriously, people who NEVER in their long lives through about owning a gun have gone out and bought one because they were afraid a president was going to outlaw owning guns.
I realize Obama wasn't everyone's cup of tea. But come on.
Back in 1999. when we were all freaking out about Y2K (wasn't that a lovely, simple time?) I suggested to my husband that we buy a gun. He thought I was nuts.
In the years since, I realized I have no business being a gun owner. Not because I'm a criminal or mentally ill or whatever, but because I refuse to be the person who ends someone's Time of Grace.
See, as a Christian, I believe we are given a Time of Grace by God. This is our time to come to faith and prepare ourselves for our eternal life.
If I die by illness, accident, or someone's hand, I know where I'm going for eternity.
BUT I refuse to be the person who ends someone else's time when they could have come to a faith that would give them a good eternity. I believe that in the eyes of God everyone is truly equal, and therefore why would I try to play God and take away someone else's life?
But, Sarah, what about your family? What if someone threatens your family?
When my children were small yes, I would have done anything to defend them from harm. Turns out, in many ways, I was not able to because the harm they suffered ultimately came at the hands of people I trusted, and while it did not involve guns, I still wasn't able to protect them. Now my children are adults and they have made their own choices when it comes to defense. I do not force my views on guns on them. One child fully believes in abolishing guns, and one has a less dim view of gun ownership. That's their right. My husband as well has a different view on gun ownership.
I choose non-lethal weapons, which is why I've picked up a childhood passion of mine in archery and started working with a hand held crossbow. I'm not good yet, but my goal is to get good enough that I can hit a threat within forty feet and it will hurt enough that he thinks twice.
Still, I know I haven't given an answer to this question. How do we stop the violence?
I do not have the perfect answer.
I'm going to put this out there: how about if first an foremost, we DEMAND that our government actually DOES SOMETHING? Our federal government is made up of part time working millionaires who do not live under the laws they pass, they do not have to use Obamacare for their health care, they get to decide THEIR WAGES as well as OURS.
Hmmmm, sounds like Taxation without Representation to me. Who's ready to dump some tea in Boston Harbor?
I'm not part of the two party system anymore. I realized that both parties in power have a game plan that's quite simple: Get us shouting at each other loudly enough so they get elected and then sit there in Congress where everyone's a pal and the only goal is to get reelected.
It has to stop. Our Government has to look at what is happening and DO SOMETHING.
But, my friends, we cannot wait for those who have long gotten fat off of our labor to actually work. We have to take it upon ourselves to find a way to make the gun violence end. And here I'm not just talking about school shootings. I'm talking about unjustified police shootings, drive by shootings, people walking into a McDonald's and shooting up the place and then killing themselves. IT. MUST. STOP.
We are Americans. No matter what we look like, how we worship, who we love, or what language we speak, we have a long history of putting it all aside when tragedy strikes. I don't think there's a person in this country who believes mass shootings should continue, or that it's just not that bad. We need to figure out what we can do to HELP instead of causing a divide. If we are screaming at each other, nothing is going to get done. We need to link arms and form a chain and say, NO MORE.
My friends, I've long a been a states' rights advocate. What works in Florida may not work in Wisconsin and may not work in New York. I say all of you, my writer friends, those who read my blogs and my books, and those of you who simply want our children to grow up to look at what gun options might work in your community. We cannot depend on our Federal Government to do anything, we need to depend on our neighborhoods. One giant, sweeping piece of legislation bogged down by 100 pounds of pork isn't going to do it.
We must work together. This must end.
My thoughts and prayers are with us all.