Because I needed a good cry(?), when I got up this morning, I watched the father of the recently slain news reporter give an interview*. I’ve said over, and over again that since having Thor, I cannot see a parent who has lost a child and not see myself there. That child is the only person in the world who literally knows me inside and out, and I’ve known him since before he had fingerprints. That child has made smiles happen on his father’s face that no one else can touch. To say that he is the best thing in our world is to say too little. I cannot, and do not want to imagine a life without him.
But that girl’s father and mother? They aren’t imagining this morning. They weren’t imagining, yesterday. This is their reality: Their daughter is gone, and their daughter is gone because of senseless gun violence.
I posted to my Facebook this morning, wondering what we can do? I’m not anti-gun at all. We own guns. I grew up with guns. All of them were within reach for me–I had easy access to the shotgun, and the pistols. Because my parents were very clear about what a gun can do, and because I’m a big chicken, I left them alone. Today, I don’t fool with the guns we have** because I don’t know enough about gun safety to feel comfortable with my ability not to accidentally shoot off my own big toe. I can barely shoot an air rifle without busting my lip.
So, for me the answer is always education. Education means safety. Swimming lessons mean fewer drownings. Driving lessons mean fewer traffic accidents. Electrician school means fewer electrocutions. See, I say fewer. I don’t say they solve the dangers lurking in an under-tow, or on a slick roadway, or a broken power line, but they allow people to make smarter, safer choices.
For me, the answer is requiring continuing education to obtain a license, and a license to purchase insurance, and that license, and insurance to purchase and then register a gun.
I think you ought to be able to own whatever you like. You want a .22, learn how to use it, follow the route to purchase, and go get it! You want an AR-15? Same deal! You go to school and learn to use it, buy your insurance, pay for your registration, and go to town.
Is that going to stop pure crazy? No. Pure crazy, like the kind that shoots up schools, and trains, and movie theaters, usually has an exit plan. No manner of restriction, or amount of hoops will deter that kind of crazy. That kind of crazy has a plan, and that kind of crazy knows exactly how it is going to end, so they aren’t worried about The Government finding out who they are.
But maybe it stops A Little Crazy. Or maybe it stops Crazy In The Moment.
Or, when I start stockpiling for my armory, maybe the government starts keeping an eye on me. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with The Government knowing that I have enough guns to establish myself as a leader of a militia. If I’m trying to hide that, there is probably something wrong with me.
The government doesn’t limit the number of cars we can have, only what kind of license we can have to drive them based on our levels of education and experience. Ditto airplanes. Ditto operating tables. I mean, I could probably learn how to do an appendectomy from YouTube tutorials, but if I go into the hospital in a white coat and cut you open, that’s a rightful felony–whether I’ve saved your life, or not. My Lib Arts degree is not the same as an M.D.
Also, you don’t want me driving a semi. I nearly creamed a car in my little Saturn the other day, and I know how to drive that!
I know people argue that guns aren’t the problem because you can kill someone with anything. That is true! I don’t think guns are the problem either. I think lack of education and easy access are the problem. You know why I get nervous when those Open Carry guys are wearing their assault rifles in Chipotle? Because I’m afraid one of them is going to accidentally do something that will end up with me being the special sauce in my burrito. I’m not afraid they are going to purposefully shoot me. I’m afraid they don’t know how to properly handle their weapons–actually, they’ve proved that to me by showing up, wearing one to Chipotle.
You can kill someone with a machete, or a car, or a fork, or a frying pan, or an icicle, which will melt and disappear leaving no evidence of the murder weapon. However, it is very difficult to commit a mass murder with an icicle, or a frying pan, or a fork, and it is harder to do with a car, or a machete. It is very easy to kill a lot of people, in a little time, in a big, or small space with a gun.
And, more to the point, a gun’s purpose is to kill something. That’s its job. Let’s not pretend that guns were invented for target practice. Target practice was invented to get better at killing things. Let’s not pretend that guns were invented so they could sit in a gun locker as a potential defense against home invaders. Gun lockers were invented to store weapons safely. Let’s not pretend guns aren’t for killing.
Guns are for killing.
Why wouldn’t you want to know if I was amassing an armory of things meant for killing?
Why wouldn’t you want to know if I was buying and arming myself for big game hunting, when I live in a suburb, and the only lions and elephants are in the zoo?
Why wouldn’t you want me to learn how to use those weapons before someone set me loose with them?
If I buy it, you’ll pry it from my cold dead hands, but if it would save one mother from waking up to a world without her child, I would happily take the class, buy the insurance, and pay the registration to own it.
*I always hear people saying that we need to wait after a shooting to talk. Wait until the emotion dies down. But, I think that’s part of the problem. You have to talk about it when what’s at stake matters. What’s at stake with gun crime is the worst thing that can happen to you: You lose someone you love.
**And we keep the guns and ammunition in very different places, safely away from the child, who isn’t even aware of what we have.