I Have a Plan

Posted Dec 15 2012, 7:15 pm in , ,

It happened again. 

On Monday, I nearly lost my friend Bill Cameron when a gunman opened fire at the Clackamas Mall in Oregon.  Barely four days later, the entire world was sickened over the deaths of elementary school children — babies — sitting in their classroom in Connecticut. 



Virginia Tech.

How many times has it happened? How many more times will it happen before anything changes? 

I spent most of yesterday sobbing in front of my television, trying to answer why. And then author Gayle Forman posted this: 

The WHY has always confounded me. What makes people snap? And why, when they do so, do they take it out on innocent people? The New York Times has an interesting article on rampage killers that I read (thanks to Kristina Martin for posting the link) and realized Gayle is right — screw the why. Killing in any form — heat of the moment, rampage, whatever — it will never make sense to anyone but the killer. 

The HOW on the other hand — that’s what we need to address and fast. I’m going to piss off a lot people, including the gun-loving members of my own family, but guns are a big part of the HOW.  Our country grants citizens the right to bear arms. Okay. Why? Let’s discuss the WHY here — for hunting? For self-defense? For shooting the tails off squirrels because it’s fun? Why does the average citizen NEED a gun? Better question — why does the average citizen need semi-automatic ones? 

I’ve heard all the old songs — guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Or my personal favorite — people can murder with cars — should we ban them?  That argument is stupid — cars are not weapons. Any object can be mis-used and turned into a weapon. But guns have only one intended purpose. Guns are designed to kill the most targets with minimal effort. 

This is why they appear to be the preferred weapon of the rampage killer. 

I want to point something out to people who oppose stronger gun control laws — the Second Amendment is not the only right that exists in this country. We also have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet citizens can’t shop in a mall, can’t see a movie, and can’t even attend kindergarten classes safely due to a large extent to the ease with which guns can be obtained. 

If you like guns, if you own guns, and enjoy exercising that right, why aren’t you outraged by that? Why aren’t you the first one to fight for stronger laws so that your right isn’t affected? Instead of arguing for rights when people are burying their children, why aren’t you grieving along side them, and working with elected officials to stop the carnage? 

Here’s what I think we should do. 

First, if you want to own guns, I think you should be federally licensed. A license — not a permit — that includes mandatory training and psychiatric evaluations that must be renewed periodically so that I and the rest of the nation can be assured you’re not the next rampage killer. 

Second, if you own a gun and your gun somehow finds its way into the hands of someone who uses it to kill, you should be arrested and charged as an accomplice in that crime. I see little to no accountability in most of the stories of massacres. The Columbine killers took weapons from one teen’s grandfather. The Connecticut shooter stole his guns from his mother and used them to kill her, as well. Why was that so easy? 

Third, we need to do a much better job of evaluating mental health and providing solutions to families that know they have a problem on their hands — for example, a child with a diagnosed disorder who refuses to take his medication, or a child with uncontrollable rage. In many of the studied rampage killings, the signs were there. They were either ignored or simply not recognized as such. Read this story to understand my position.

I don’t pretend any of this is going to be easy. But it’s certainly easier than facing twenty parents to tell them their five-year-old is dead. 

In the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, Twitter lit up with expressions of sympathy, prayers, well wishes from people who support tougher laws. But you know what I saw from those who oppose tighter restrictions? Whining. Nothing but “Oh, here we go again! All the crazies will want to take away our guns.” There was only one person in my Twitter feed who said, “I’d gladly give up my guns if it would bring back one of those children.” Why aren’t gun owners the first among us to stand up and demand tougher laws that ensure guns stop falling into the hands of the wrong people? 

On September 11th, terrorists turned four jet airplanes into weapons. Yes, it’s true that no one demanded that we outlaw the airplane. However, I stand by my earlier argument — an airplane was not designed to be a weapon. No one anticipated that attack. A gun was intended to be used to kill. Further, weren’t widespread changes immediately enacted to ensure that can’t happen again? Airlines installed bars on cockpit doors, put air marshals on flights, expanded the TSA, and even made you take off your shoes to board. We’ve sacrificed many rights — chief among them was our right to privacy — to continue airline travel and guess what? The world didn’t end. 

We can certainly do more, a lot more, to toughen up the gun laws and make it damn hard for anybody BUT the people who enjoy their second amendment rights to own one. Tougher laws are working in every other country, so they’ll work here when our elected leaders finally stand up and act. 

Sign the petition for tougher laws here

No Comments


Comments are closed.