ambivalent gun control

ambivalent gun control

wow it’s been a while since i blogged! well, no time like the present.
first things first: i signed up for the earth day half marathon. huzzah. i’m still not sure how i feel about that. 
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but what i really want to talk about, and i’m kind of afraid to, is gun control/violence. 

first, i want to tell three short stories. 

when i was small, i went with my uncle squire to buy a gun (for him – not me). we went to a house out on a lake, where squire checked out a couple guns the owner was selling. he ended up leaving with one. i do not know if the whole enterprise was legal or not. 
then in my early 20s, i went with a friend to fleet farm, where she placed an order for a gun that would be in her name and under her background check, but was actually a birthday present for her minor brother from her parents. this is a straw purchase and illegal (which i didn’t know at the time). 
and just recently, i heard a story from a friend about how her niece’s first year of hunting was shot down (pun not intended!) after she mishandled her gun. she took the classes and training, but on deer opener a bee (or wasp or some ugly bug) got in her face, and she waved her gun around, pointed it at people. that was it for her. no more hunting.
and second, a disclaimer: i am not going to do [much] research in the post, as it would take hours and hours that i don’t have. but i am going to pose a lot of questions that i may research later. 

the intro

ok, so i don’t deny that the rash of school shootings is a horrible, horrible thing. i don’t deny that we should be doing more thorough background checks and making sure that those whose names the guns are in should be the actual owners.
and if we as a country outlawed guns, then those people who would lash out like this would find another way. but for a moment, think about the st. cloud mall stabbing: no one was killed when that maniac went on his stabbing spree (besides him). can you imagine if he’d had a gun? there would have been so many casualties. so yes, outlawing guns could help curb quite a bit of gun crime. 
but i also see the other side. people choose to pick up that weapon and kill other people. i know many responsible gun owners, whether it’s for hunting or funsies. i’ve shot guns. my sister and dad own guns.
so what is causing those people to bring an arsenal into a school (and other places) and kill people? and how can we help those people while also letting responsible gun owners partake in the 2nd amendment*?
i’ve been seeing a lot of posts on FB about how bullying is a cause of school shootings.  shooters are generally outcasts and not well-liked. to stop school shootings, be nice to your classmates.
welcome to high school. that’s what high school IS. a bunch of cliques of popular people and not so popular people and nerds and the weirdos. 
a while back, my HS classmates (i am a member of the FB group) were trying to brush aside the clique thing, saying we were above that. what on earth! of course it was the popular people who were saying this (read: not me). of course there are cliques. there were cliques in my gradeschool, in a class of 18! 
what pushes the few over the edge? can we agree that it is not violent movies and video games?
is it a combination of being low on the totem pole combined with mental illness/abuse/substance abuse and then access to guns? and why is it mostly boys**? 
and can we blame this entirely on just mental illness and access to guns? i don’t think so.

i think there are two contributing factors. 

first, we live in a country that is inculcated with fear. we are afraid to go out at night. sometimes i’m afraid to go running in the SJU woods (rape). george zimmerman was afraid of a black teenager in a hoodie eating skittles. people in st. cloud are afraid of change. so we arm ourselves against the things we’re supposed to be afraid of***. 
are we really afraid of these things, or are we afraid because we are told we should be afraid? this is a huge cultural problem that is partly due to the media focusing on tragedies and bad news instead of the good things. we are actually safer these days than back in the “old days” when kids would run around all evening without a care in the world. we just hear more about when bad things happen. sometimes those rose-colored glasses were helpful.
second, US citizens need access to helpful, affordable (maybe free!) health care and support systems. instead of spending all our federal dollars on arming ourselves with weapons (again with the fear), perhaps we keep that in-house and spend it on arming ourselves with healthy, fulfilling lives. 
oh, there’s a third i guess. we need to stop the over-masculinization of society. a man’s a man and doesn’t show any vulnerability or sympathy. so what if boys cry? who cares if they want to play with a barbie instead of a tonka truck? does it matter if a girl beats a boy at soccer? “you’re going to let a GIRL beat you?” when some father is screaming this at his son, not only does that shame the boy, but it shames the girl for being better than a boy. and why is shame involved at all? if we can’t prepare ourselves to lose to other, whether woman or man, life is going to be pretty miserable.

call for a ban?

let’s talk about banning certain guns and accessories. i’m not convinced it will work. it MIGHT reduce casualties. i briefly tried to find out if the columbine shooters used bumpstocks and couldn’t find anything. they used a pump-action shotgun. 
In the 49 shootings from columbine to 2013 (https://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0057.htm), the AR-15 was used in two. (a few were unidentifed, so we can’t rule those out, but i’m focusing on what we know.) a majority of the guns are semi-automatic, but they also include revolvers, handguns, and shotguns. 
shootings will still happen if we ban certain items. the only way to completely eliminate this is by eliminating guns altogether (which at this point i may have convinced myself of, but i go back and forth on this issue all the time).

where we’re at

but here’s what to remember: when your rights start to infringe on others’ rights, that’s when we have a problem. and i understand that responsible gun owners’ rights are to be taken into account. but it’s a tool – a very violent, deadly tool.  but i have a right to live. and someone who is mentally unstable with a gun cannot infringe on those rights, and i can’t infringe on the rights of gun owners.
see the circle? what i think we need to focus on is making sure our populace is healthy and those who aren’t are noticed and treated well, and we need to work on erasing this overwhelming feeling of fear that we in the US are so hardwired to exalt.
but that may take a while, and in the spirit of being a fence-sitter on this issue, a ban might not be a bad idea.

appendix

*people forget about the first half of the second amendment: 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.
**the first “modern-day” school shooter was actually a girl. “Brenda Ann Spencer, a chronically abused and molested mentally unstable 16y/o girl on a cocktail of intoxicants, is actually considered by many to be the first modern school shooter. On Jan 29, 1979 she took the 22 shot gun her father (the abuser and molester,) had given her a month before for Christmas, (immediately after a school psychiatrist recommended she be institutionalized as a danger to herself and others,) and opened fire on the morning crowds outside the elementary school across the street from her home. ”
***of COURSE there are things that some people should be afraid of. people in violent relationships, in precarious situations, etc. fear shouldn’t be ABSENT but it shouldn’t RULE our lives.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140728-why-is-all-the-news-bad
https://www.quora.com/Has-there-ever-been-a-school-shooting-carried-out-by-a-girl

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