I am sure most of you, have heard of the Newton and Aurora Tragedies, as well as the ensuing firestorm of political ramble that followed. Much to my dismay, I don't think anything is going to happen in regards to policy changes.
However, here are things that I think should be changed both in terms of society and policy.
The following essay, are my thoughts on the topic.
The Gun Control Debate: My Two Cents On This Mess
The Newton Tragedy, a devastating event to families and community involved. Sadly, this event is one of many taking place every day, the only difference being that this was brought to the public eye; with good and bad repercussions. To be frank, this discussion needs to happen, as we are just under Mexico in terms of firearms deaths, and 30 times worse than the next closest "Western" country Switzerland (as defined as being part of the Euroasia continent and North Americas).
The questions I have asked of myself, are many. Among them, is why? We need to discuss the causes and not so much the symptoms of the violence that perpetuates and mars our country. Sadly to say, banning assault rifles outright is an example of knee jerk reactions to the symptoms. A criminal doesn't much care that a bystander doesn't or does have a gun, after all they can shoot first. We are all unfortunately, idiots that are looking at the issues, yes plural, the wrong way.
I believe that there are a number of problems to address, among them, mental health, our culture and fear.
Newton, Aurora and countless more should be our alarm bells that mentally ill individuals need more help than they are able to receive.
President Reagan was the president that inflicted the most cuts in recent history to mental health institution funding, resulting in empty mental health facilities sitting next to prisons that are overcrowded.
Think for a moment, if the shooter's mother in Newton was able to receive help with her child. Reports indicate that he was a handful for her. What might or might not have happen if she was able to receive help? For the Aurora shooter, what if the professors who recommended the shooter not be admitted to the program, were able to recommend that he receive help?
There is so much what if, and not we should. I believe it is worth mentioning AGAIN, as by the National Review, that homicide rates sharply increase when "less access to psychiatric inpatient-beds and more poorly rated mental health systems".
I could parrot all day, the mental health cry, but I must add another component to my argument. Society itself needs to change its views of mental health. There is this stigma of the mental institution.
Mental health institutions are commonly referred to as the derogatory term "loony-bin" and are often pictured as prisons. The mental health illnesses of all shapes and sizes need to be accepted as issues of the mind as a broken bone or cough are accepted as issues of the body. This way more people would be inclined to seek help on their own for their mental health and not fear being locked up. Perhaps, tragedies could be avoided?
It is a "tragedy" itself, that we have the Sex Talk, the Alcohol Talk and even the Drug Talk or the Driving Talk, but not so much on the violence front.
We seem to have this innate group consensus of fear, that guns equal power, or in general, force equals power and that is a "good thing". In our sayings, such sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
We fail to realise just how much we sidestep the issue of violence acceptance as something other than last resort, it's even in our national sport, football or just that-sport-where-ball-doesn't-touch-foot-sport-from-the-crazy-Americans outside the us.
Sidestepping violence is found in our values as evidenced to my constantly astonished self, that a movie receives a higher rating than another all because of SEX, than the amount of violence.
I wouldn't mind the differential all that much, if it weren't the fact that we do not sit down with our kids and say, "look Jimmy, violence is not cool". For now, our culture absorbs violence and doesn't consider beyond "shoot pow, he's just another 100 points in my million point score".
I declare there needs to be a "violence" talk, to teach kids that violence begets violence and just destroys everything around you. After all, does shooting your rival or bully solve ANYTHING?
Before I begin to address some controversial perceived problems, I must say, that I do not advocate the elimination of the second amendment. Far from it, my entire paper has been so far to address causation not symptoms. There are responsible gun owners after all and we do have a fundamental court ruled right to ownership of guns, although, assault weapons may be a tad too much.
I want to discuss, Responsibility versus Right. I am irked that in our constitution, we spell out all these yummy rights for ourselves, yet spell out no responsibilities in such as to people and land?
The sad reality is that this condition perpetuates into our modern government's culture, US is not only perceived, but is a gung-ho country that touts its rights but shies away from responsibilities we don't want to take.
Primary example of shying? We are one country of three, and the only major one at that, that shied away from the Kyoto protocol, as the worst polluters of the time, worse than China. (I will not engage in a political debate over Global Warming because that is not the issue at hand at the moment.)
In addition, in any international issue US will demand action from a country and expects it to follow suit. While if countries ask anything of the US it will flaunt its rights. Many International Court rulings against US were not enforced because the US simply ignored it.
For instance, Germany won an International Court ruling against the US to stop an execution of a German National who had no German representative nor US citizenship. US executed the German National the very next day.
Hypocritical considering the US would be screaming bloody murder if it was the party that won and has, with Iran and other countries. We want to have cake and we want to eat it too.
Where am I going with this? The gun debate, it seems for the politicians they want gun violence to stop; yet, they squabble over nothing until it all dies down.
It is our responsibility to our great nation to do something instead of shying away from it. Some actions are hard, such as possible limitations of assault and heavy weapons; some are simple common sense such as closing loopholes to stop people from illegally legally gaining weapons without background checks. Others are simply instituting mandatory minimum standards across the states.
Some states require only background checks, others just fees, others mental health exams, others require firearm registrations and New York being a prime example of limiting amount of ammo and others simply ban in certain areas. The wide spectrum is disheartening and is our responsibility to at the minimum make it harder to simply purchase online assault weapons as in the Aurora shooter or possess assault weapons in the house with mentally ill persons as in Newton.
At the conclusion of this, I would like to admit; I don't think anything is going to happen, and we can't count on violence to go down on its own. Violence won't leave, Japan is actually a testifying case of more deaths by knives than guns, mostly because the issue of violence, any kind, is a marred with complex socio-economic problems ranging from poverty, culture and health.
Please Share your Thoughts!