Opinion Piece: Gun Control

I know this site is supposed to be about my dating mishaps and whatnot, but I just couldn’t sit down and write about something that feels so insignificant when my brain is consumed with something else. This is not a finger-pointing, argument inciting piece. Just my opinion on something that has made me feel very sad, and very afraid.

There were two more mass shootings over the weekend. This is a real headline from CNN.com: “At least 31 killed in US weekend mass shootings”. US weekend mass shootings sounds like a roundup of the activities that happened over the weekend. It doesn’t sound like what it really is, which is mass murder. And we’ve all become desensitized to what that actually means because we are all so defensive about our positions on gun control, the second amendment, and what we think is the answer. All we do is argue now.

It breaks my heart that there were 31 people murdered for absolutely no reason over the weekend. 22 of them were just shopping at Wal Mart at 10:30am on a Saturday. Not to mention the shootings that happened in Chicago the same weekend that were hardly discussed because, well, they weren’t mass shootings, just regular shootings.  

I have been reluctant to post anything about these shootings because I don’t want to get into an online argument with someone who has a different opinion than I do. That doesn’t mean I am closed minded or ignorant to the fact that my opinions are just that; opinions. They are not facts. I know that. No one’s opinions are facts, and yet many people today treat their opinions as such. 

It could be the subject of gun control, healthcare, racism, or immigration. No matter the topic, people are just arguing with each other. Everyone thinks their opinion is the only logical way to look at a situation, and so none of us will listen to what anyone else has to say on the subject. There’s no more discussion or healthy debate, let alone compassion or mourning of the victims, just arguing and finger pointing and everyone is calling everyone else racist. I can’t take it anymore. So I am being vulnerable and sharing my opinion with you, and hoping that it will be met with understanding and not contempt.

I watched a video online yesterday that was a response to the calls for gun control. Did I feel the urge to comment and add my opinion? Only for a brief second. Then it passed, because I didn’t want to engage in an ongoing comment squabble with a stranger who is never going to listen to what I have to say about my own feelings. I’m not saying that I’m right or that I have the answer to this question of how to solve mass shootings. Of course not. But I do have a response to this video that I saw. 

The man was saying that all of these mass shootings are happening because the people doing them are pure evil. Agreed. Then he said that it’s wrong to take guns out of the hands of the people who need to defend themselves. That’s where he lost me. That might make sense if the sought-after gun control had anything to do with the concealed carrying of a handgun, for which you are registered and have a license. I’m assuming that is what this man was referring to when he was saying that the only way to fight people with guns is to have more guns so we can shoot back at the shooter when these attacks start. 

I have a couple issues with that train of thought. First of all, not everyone wants a gun. Not everyone knows how to use a gun. I have never owned one, I don’t want to, and I don’t want to live in a world where if I don’t carry a handgun around all the time it is now my fault if I get murdered at a shopping mall. Or a movie theater. Or an outdoor festival. Or a concert. Or a school. Side note; are children supposed to carry guns now, too? 

Second of all, even if I bought a handgun, was trained in how to use it, and carried it with me wherever I went as devotedly as I do my cellphone, that’s no match for an AK-47 assault rifle. By the time the shooter is shooting, who amongst us, aside from trained snipers and maybe James Bond, would have the reflexes and wherewithal to not only avoid being shot, but pull out our handgun,  locate the killer, train it on the active shooter who is presumably walking and spraying bullets, and shoot to kill? That is some summer movie blockbuster shit, and as someone who has no combat experience or training, I’m gonna go ahead and say that no, I would not be able to do that. That’s like trying to kill someone with a knife who is throwing a hand grenade at you. 

Now, if that same killer was also carrying a handgun and had to take his time aiming so as not to waste his limited bullet supply, then yes, it’s reasonable to believe that a civilian with some proper gun training might have a chance to take him down. But even then, that civilian has to make the choice to go after the killer rather than fleeing the scene. What if they’re with their family? Are they going to get their children to safety or are they going to stay behind and kill this guy? That’s a decision I hope I never have to make. 

And yes, I’ve heard the argument that outlawing guns won’t help because the people who want them will get them anyway. But how do we know that? We’ve never tried it. (Yes, I know they passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 through 2004 but that only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban’s enactment, so still somewhat limited.) Regulation as a barrier to entry or purchase is the simplest way to deter someone from obtaining what they desire. 

For example, a 15-year-old kid trying to buy alcohol at the convenience store. He tries on his own, gets turned down. So maybe he finds an older friend with a fake ID? No luck. So, he resorts to shoulder tapping. Maybe he finds a stranger who will buy him a six pack of beer, but maybe he doesn’t. And there are a lot of people who would give up before that.

I’m not saying that our legal restrictions of alcohol are perfect, but they do limit the amount of people acquiring alcohol who are not supposed to have it. If you have to go out of your way for something, it is a deterrent. How many hand grenade attacks have you guys heard about in the news recently? Or not recently, for that matter. I haven’t heard of any. I looked it up and as it turns out, hand grenades are classified as a Destructive Device, or DD. According to Wikipedia;

“In the United States grenades are classed as destructive devices, a form of Title II weapons under the National Firearms Act. They must consequently be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, are taxed, and are illegal in states that ban Title II weapons. While in principle it is possible to legally obtain and possess hand grenades in some states, in practice they are not generally available.”

Maybe that’s why we never hear about mass hand grenade murders. They are regulated. Does the military need them? Absolutely. Do civilians need them? No. Also, how are AK-47s not classified as Destructive Devices? 

I did not grow up in a gun loving household and so I am fully aware that I have very different perceptions of guns than those who did. I have friends who are hunters. I dated a guy who liked to go to the gun range or go skeet shooting from time to time. I tried it with him a couple times. It wasn’t my favorite thing, but I never stopped him from doing it. 

My Dad was a sniper in Viet Nam. It wasn’t something he talked about often but it obviously had a profound effect on him. The only guns he owned were his rifle that he kept from Viet Nam, which never left the back of his closet (and was never loaded), and a pellet gun that he would use to scare off any bears or coyotes that might come across our property and pose a threat to our pets. That is the gun culture in which I was raised. I know that other people have different experiences with guns, and that’s why I am not here pronouncing my feelings facts.

I know that there are people out there who have had their lives saved by guns, or have saved the lives of others with guns. They can do a lot of good. I understand how much that can affect your feelings towards guns. But we just have to remember that everyone’s experience is different. Proclaiming that the solution to this problem is that we all carry our own weapons around is not a realistic response for a lot of people. 

I support your right to carry a concealed weapon if you are licensed and trained and if that makes you feel safe. I do. Everyone deserves to feel safe. But I personally do not want to carry a gun, and I don’t want to live in a country where I feel like I have to.  So, for those of you who grew up around guns and don’t want them taken away, please just understand that a lot of people did not grow up around guns and they are very scary to us. Please try to understand that we want to feel safe too, but we all have different ideas of what makes us feel safe. 

In my opinion, gun control is not about attacking anyone’s rights, it’s about trying to make us feel safe. Please don’t take that personally or hate those of us who rely on the police and the military to do the shooting. Not all of us are prepared to be our own militia, and I don’t think that we should have to. 

If you have read this all the way through and want to leave a comment, opinions and feelings are welcome. Insults and arguments are not. I’m not stating anything here as a fact, so please don’t respond as though I am. All I want is for us to try and understand each other a little more, because whether we remember it or not, we are all in this together.