a gun, an individual & a society
“Even as we learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this.
Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living.
The people we lost in Aurora loved, and they were loved.
They were mothers and fathers. They were husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future, and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled. And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited, and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives.
Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.”
President Obama after Aurora shooting
<originally written & posted October 2, 2015 and again on November 5, 2017 and, yet, appears relevant today>
The shooting at the community college in Oregon.
As the president said last night … we seem to be having this conversation far too often in the United States.
Any shooting of innocent people is bad.
Unexplainable shootings seem worse. And because they seem unexplainable we seem to want to go back and reverse engineer information and try and explain the action of someone who does something which seems unexplainable to the everyday schmuck like me <to be clear … reverse engineering is 99% accurate … its predictive engineering that is less accurate>.
The reengineering always seems to offer possible solutions … and yet … offer no solutions at all.
And, yet, moments like this make us want to do something … to say something … to solve whatever this something is. All the while serious looking overly somber news people all over the country, as well as an obviously aggravated President Obama, comment on and lament what can only be called a tragic situation. That is all good … but what none of these people seem to nail down is a cohesive strategy to address fundamental reasons for the amount of gun violence that has somehow seeped into the everyday American Life.
Please note I said ‘cohesive’ because the voices shouting seem anything but aligned:
One shouts ‘its guns!!!’ <gun control issues>.
One shouts ‘its mental health !!!’ <psychological profiling and privacy issues>
One shouts ‘its domestic terrorism !!! <implying it is some thoughtful effort to change something>
<and a few oddly, and slightly absurdly, shout ‘its Obama’s fault !!!’>
How about we put all the ‘ones’ together and think about a common strategy.
What do all of these events have in common?
There is a gun.
There is an individual.
There is society <the environment in which the gun and the individual reside>.
I get steamed at both sides on the gun control discussion. Freedom to own a gun does not absolve the freedom from ‘responsible gun ownership.’ On the other side … eliminating guns is just not feasible.
While I certainly don’t have all the political answers I do admit that some aspects of calls for more gun control resonate with me <all the while fully understand that Americans are hardly agreed on the issue with less than 50% wanting stricter gun laws but a majority want better background check>.
And I do know that “a feeding frenzy of new gun legislation is not the answer.” What I do know is that I would rip up all gun control legislation <I believe it is something like over 200 things> and start from scratch.
– I want responsible people who accept the significant responsibility that comes along with owning a gun to be able to own a gun.
It doesn’t seem absurd to demand some level of ‘prove responsibility’ to own a gun. Force registration at police offices or military facilities. Prove you know how to handle a gun <all guns you may have>.
– Any weapon the military uses for military action shouldn’t be in the hands of the everyday citizen. Period. Full stop.
If someone has military experience, then maybe they have earned the right to own an assault like weapon. But I would also make the Military responsible for military trained people who own these guns.
– Ammunition used for hunting or ammunition for non military use.
That’s the only kind of ammunition you can have.
– No more concealed weapons. If you have one, show it.
If I am a non gun owner I want the opportunity to decide to not be near a gun if I want to. If I am a gun owner I want to be fully aware of who else has a gun around me. If I am a police officer I want to be able to see who has what and who doesn’t.
I am sure I am missing something but this whole situation and discussion aggravates my sense so much I leaned in with what I would call the basic common sense thoughts.
The individual <and mental state of mind>.
One cannot live without the other.
The flippant “it’s a mental health issue” … well … suffice it to say “yes” … and then point out if you truly believe we can profile everyone in the entire united states, evaluate them on some set of ‘possibility criteria’ and then track them … well … you are on drugs <which is a completely different issue>.
We cannot institutionalize everyone, or anyone, who has thoughts of suicide, moments of anger at society <or some aspect or group they focus their anger on> or even people with depression and some inclination of some public display of their overall dissatisfaction with Life.
Professional health needs to suck up their pride, and differences, and come up with some basic assessment tool. By the way … has anyone ever heard of ‘social media tracking?’ I can almost guarantee that 90% of all Americans leave an internet footprint … and 99% of the assholes who pick up a gun and shoot some innocent victims certainly do.
I would subjugate one of my privacy freedoms, as a citizen, if the professional health industry said ‘we have a specific assessment tool which will be scanning all online activity which reflects indicators of mental health issues tied with possibility to pick up a gun and kill innocent people.’
C’mon. I have probably met a half dozen social media tracking companies with some technology that tracks words and clicks and even your breathing <it seems> to such a point I am pretty sure they can accurately tell me when I will need to go to the bathroom.
For fuck’s sake. Amazon knows what I want before I want it … certainly we can come up with a tool like this.
Beyond the professionals … there is … well … people … uhm … you & I <and their relationship with potential ‘tragedy creators>. I don’t want to go back to Soviet communism where neighbors reported on neighbors to the KGB … but … for cryin’ out loud … if we simply raised our hands for the people we were 80% sure needed some help … at minimum … they get help … and even better … we cut down on these tragic events by 80%.
To be clear on that last point … perfection may be sought … but will never be attained. Evil does win on occasion <whether we like it or not>.
Let me begin with …
The picture emerging of Mercer is of a killer who had an interest in mass shootings, having reportedly recently posted on a blog about a gunman who killed two US journalists live on air in August.
He described Vester Flanagan as a man who “wanted the world to see his actions” before adding: “Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
Oh. Let me add …
In the usual rush to offer up some breaking information, news reports were embellished with unconfirmed details about the massacre and the assailant that did little but fuel a contagion of fear.
I sometimes think we are our own worst enemy. Regardless. Let me tell ya one thing I know for sure … if someone wants to commit suicide and leave a legacy <be in the limelight> that people will remember forever … just do it, or something, in front of today’s media <and then the entertainment industry will run with it from there with TV specials, movies, docudramas, whatever>.
The core of much of the entertainment industry in America – movies, TV shows and, yes, I consider today’s cable news as entertainment <albeit disturbing entertainment> – is based on killing and violence. We glorify the violence & the violent at the same time as we are saddened by it.
In addition … while we depict the violent as ‘evil’ we just as much showcase them as misguided or ‘faults of society’ <not forcing any accountability or personal responsibility for actions on the asshole who actually pulled the trigger>.
The consequences of this is that our society breeds a sense of ‘victim’ even for the purveyor of the tragedy.
If not us then who?
Look. The champions for gun ownership point out that the Constitution of the country gives people the right to own guns. I would suggest those people think contextually with regard to that thought … at the time America had no standing army … just citizen militia. Everyone was expected to pick up their gun in defense of this new nation we had just created.
Basically, at that time, everyone served in the military.
I would suggest to the people who suggest ‘more guns’ that maybe if we had a mandatory one year military service <or community service if you do not want military> for everyone then everyone would be properly trained as well as properly assessed.
The Swiss require part-time military service from each male citizen between the ages of 18 to 34. Women may serve voluntarily. In a nation of eight million people, about 20,000 soldiers a year attend basic training for 18 to 21 weeks
Do I truly want that? No.
Do I truly believe it would resolve a shitload of the issues we have now with regard to guns and violence? Yes.
I am all for maintaining our constitutional rights, but, please, PLEASE, could gun rights people think about the context in which the constitution was crafted.
In the end.
I am all for responsible people owning hand guns. That is their choice and, as a country, we deemed that as one of our inviolate rights.
I am all for a responsible society.
What I am NOT for is irresponsible quibbling and inaction after a shooting tragedy. It is a complex issue that demands something more than a pithy simple solution soundbite. It is a complex issue that demands we do something because that is what adults do to protect their children.
I am sure I am missing something and I am relatively sure I will come back and rewrite portions of this but this topic makes me so angry and so sad at the exact same time I just gotta stop for now.