“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

14 December 2012

It's time to talk about guns.

The title of the post is relatively self-explanatory. What happened today in Connecticut is almost unspeakable, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try. If you don't want to listen to me talk about guns, or you don't believe there's anything to talk about, then this isn't the post for you.

Whenever a tragedy like this occurs, the pro-gun-rights activists are immediately prepared to tell us that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Factually speaking, though, guns do kill people. A gun killed a whole lot of people today. I'm not arguing semantics, here; I'm just trying to say that a gun is a weapon. To pretend it is only a tool is foolhardy and false.

I find hunting as a pastime confusing. I often want to ask hunters what it is about their hobby that they particularly enjoy. Is it the marksmanship? Because that doesn't require live targets to be satisfying. Is it the outdoorsmanship? Because you could easily enjoy the outdoors without shooting at anything. Do you like the camaraderie involved when you hunt with your friends or family? I can think of many other sports you might try out together. Or perhaps you, like some hunters I know, like to "test yourself against nature." Might I suggest spelunking? Or mountaineering? Or extreme wildlife photography? As far as "testing yourself" goes, I'd argue that modern day hunting isn't much of a challenge. Sure, you can take down a deer from a blind half a mile away with a high-powered rifle and a sight, but the deer isn't really getting a fair shot. I am not impressed.

I'm also not impressed by the argument that you have a right to protect yourself and your family. Sure you do. We all do. But I protect my family through attentiveness, modern security measures, and common sense. My husband was held at gun point this year during a car-jacking, and it was terrifying. Would it have been less terrifying for him (and for me) if he had also pulled a gun? Would it have altered the outcome? Now there are two guns involved, and the situation has escalated, and it's not just about a car anymore... it's an armed stand-off. That's just ludicrous. No, we did not immediately run out to buy a concealed firearm. The gun was the problem, not the solution.

And yes, I know that the second amendment to the constitution guarantees citizens the right to bear arms. It states: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." But I don't feel all that secure. If anything, the fact that anyone and everyone could be carrying a firearm I can't even see makes me feel pretty uncomfortable. Insecure, really.

At the end of the day, I care a whole lot less about your right to bear arms than I do about the lives of these children. These kids are dead. They have no rights. Their rights were taken away from them by a guy with a gun. While the gun did not make him do it, I think we can all agree that the gun made this tragedy possible. In a way that rope and knives and even a bow and arrow would not. Case in point: Chinese man attacks 22 children, 1 adult with knife outside primary school. 23 people were injured but no fatalities. Good thing he did not have a gun.

Seriously, don't even mention bombs.

Bombs are already illegal.

Here's what it boils down to: Guns aren't okay. They aren't fun, they don't serve any recreational purpose, and they don't belong in the hands of ordinary people-- whether those people are criminals or politicians, medical doctors or the mentally ill. If you have one, I don't want it anywhere near me. I don't want you carrying it around me or storing it in a house where I have to sleep. I don't want my child in a home that stores one, no matter how secure you are sure that it is. And I sure as hell don't want my child exposed to anything even remotely gun-shaped until he or she is old enough to understand that they are off-limits. Yes, that includes waterguns and video games. No freaking way.

I don't know how the media and the politicians are going to choose to spin this particular story. I don't know if anyone else will be willing to blame the gun. But I do. I really, really do.

I'm praying for these families, and for this country.