So the latest tragedy here in America is the Connecticut school shooting, where 20 little kids were shot to death by a mentally ill young man whose Mom liked to collect and play with guns and did not secure them. It completely broke the hearts of most Americans, and has led to the President of the United States vowing to reform gun control laws, with most of the country agreeing yea, maybe its time to do something about it. I mean, this latest shooting was so horrific, people just don’t have any fight in them anymore. While there is always going to be the idiot who wants to argue, who can stand up and defend the right to bear arms in the face of 20 mostly 6-year-olds being plowed down in a classroom in a public school?
Before I even go on, I need to say I am so very proud of our President Barack Obama. His tearful announcement of the school shooting demonstrates his compassion and empathy for the American People, and I have learned that when this man says something, he means what he says. So when he also announced gun control reform, he meant it, and he will do everything in his power to make it happen. How much happens, however, is ultimately going to be up to us.
This has led me to investigate our Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Just some browsing, mind you. I am not a lawyer nor do I possess a willingness to argue law. But I felt a responsibility as an American Citizen to at least weigh the pros and cons of the matter in my own limited way. To come up with some arguments for both sides, and choose where I want to stand. And I think every American needs to do this, at the very least to protect our children.
So here are my arguments, be they what they may be, and as you read don’t forget my disclaimer that I, like most Americans, am not a lawyer, and am not going to read or even try to interpret law. That said, its unnecessary. There is law, and there is common sense. Consider this the common sense approach, as much as I may possess it. Yup, that’s another disclaimer!
So what I did not like about what our President said is the ‘take a look at mental health in America and make sure care is there for those who need it’ thing. I do feel that Americans need to be made aware of mental health issues. Mental issues are very real, and they don’t affect just some people. At some point in our lives, we all are going to experience mental problems, whether it is dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, whatever, everybody has an issue at some point in their lives.
A case in point is myself. For some reason, I developed a fear of driving over bridges. It was terrible. I would approach a bridge in the car and my heart would start racing and I would break out in a sweat and I would clamp down on the steering wheel as hard as I could and just fight the urge right before the bridge to pull over and consider, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ This then led to avoiding certain activities because I couldn’t get to them.
I felt so stupid.
Then it progressed to just regular driving. When people passed me up, it freaked me out. Why were they driving so friggin fast?
Then I started freaking out in large groups of people. At the time, I was in college, and I would sit there in a lecture of anywhere from 50-350 other students and just start freaking out inside. My heart would race, and I would start sweating, and I wouldn’t turn my head for fear I would get dizzy and pass out.
Then it started happening everywhere at unexpected times. In the supermarket. In the mall. Walking in the park I would be hunched over swaying down the sidewalk like a drunk thinking the sky was falling. It was totally bizarre.
When I failed a whole semester of classes at college, I decided to see a doctor. I honestly thought there was something physically wrong with me. Maybe an inner ear infection or something. Maybe something neurological. I told him I would get dizzy while I drive or was in a classroom and it would freak me out and make me anxious, which seemed to make it even worse.
He very frankly told me that I was suffering from anxiety, suggested that I exam the way I was eating and cut back on the caffeine and prescribed me some anti-anxiety pills which I took for almost a year. And viola, I am normal me again.
Smart man. He had me see a nutritionist, and advised me to exam my life and lower my stress level. Which meant no more 8 course semesters and trying to work full time as well.
Just an example for you that mental problems are real and just because you may think you are doing fine, doesn’t mean that you are not susceptible to affliction. In some instances, sometimes as we age chemical imbalances occur, resulting in temporary or even permanent mental issues. But most mental issues are treatable, and I agree the public needs to be educated that it can happen to them, in fact something may be happening right now, and that in most cases it is treatable either on a temporary or permanent basis depending on what the actual problem is.
People tend to look at mental issues as you either have one or don’t. Its not like that. Look at it more in a physical sense, like catching a cold. You can catch a cold, and most likely will catch a germ here and there, but its not the end of the world nor does it mean it can’t be fixed. Having a mental problem is as common as catching a cold. Sometimes we can nurse ourselves back, sometimes we need help. Realize this and your on your way to being self aware of your own mental well being.
So all of this said, why do I say I didn’t like the whole ‘lets examine mental health in America’ statement made by the President? I didn’t like it because, while I agree if Adam Lanza received the mental care he needed the whole thing never would have happened, there are other issues to examine. Why did his Mom have the type of weapons she had, and why were they not secured? Does a fondness for collecting different types of guns fit into the description of a right to bear arms as expressed in the Second Amendment? What brought about the right to bear arms issue in the first place?
Lets take a look. The second amendment states, according to Wikipedia, ‘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’.
Consider militia’s. Militia’s were an old time form of military. Most European countries had them. Back in the day, England required all able bodied males to serve in one of two militia’s they had if called upon to do so. One was for the apprehension of criminals, the other to keep order within the country and for the defense of the country against invasion. They were made up of armed citizens with formal training provided if one was called upon to serve.
The French were the first to settle in America. The French Colonists were then invaded by Spaniards. Somewhere along the way there was a war and England took control, and that is how the first English pioneers started here in America. Or basically like that. I tried to research it, and it turned into a vast historical view of Europe that I was not willing to get lost in. Whether the first pioneers were French, Spanish, and English peoples all under control of England or whether it was just English pioneers, the general point is that the pioneers here were considered citizens of England living in newly conquered English territory, and thus controlled by England and the English Militia.
The pioneers felt ignored by England, even though they paid the same taxes as people in England and other English-controlled territories. They created their own militia’s called the Patriots and revolted, gaining independence from English rule. The pioneer militia’s later evolved into police, and much later modern military and law enforcement as we know it, with lots of trial and error and corruption along the way.
The Second Amendment was created to protect the right to bear arms because it was a real necessity. No longer was England keeping order, and the Patriots, made up of everyday pioneers with no formal training, needed weaponry to keep order within their ranks and to ensure protection from English invasion. Weapons were also needed to protect against native Americans strongly apposed their land being taken, to hunt, raise domestic farm animals, and for protection from wild beasts. They were absolutely essential to survival and thus you had to have the right to bear arms.
So arriving back here to modern times, guns are still used for protection against invading countries by our military and also used by our law enforcement personnel to keep order. The right to bear arms by a private citizen is still a part of our Constitution of the United States, and we are reluctant to mess with it. I mean, these are our rights, correct? Our freedoms. They are sacred to us.
But is it applicable to today’s everyday citizen? The United States possesses the most powerful military in the world. While I admit I do feel a certain amount of security and pride knowing that every American out there would fight tooth and nail against invaders and be armed doing so, is it really necessary? Who on earth would invade us? Our military would stop it cold. Besides, nobody is going to invade and plunder in this day and age when they can just bomb a country into oblivion. Lets be real.
Guns are no longer needed for survival either. If anybody still hunts their own food, raises their own cattle, and has to worry about wild animals solely for their own personal survival, I would be hard pressed to find them. Natives are assimilated. I can see the need for guns in raising cattle for meat products, but even that has been commercialized and is done as a profession, not for survival. We eat factory meat.
Maybe in the meat factory there is someone standing their with a gun solely to shoot livestock, but somehow that doesn’t strike me as likely. Modern agriculturists may need to use guns for control of wild animals invading crops, but even that is getting pretty rare, with most wild animals actually being considered extinct with laws protecting them from harm.
Guns are not needed for tyranny of the Government either. If we don’t like the Government, we fire them. Some would argue what if the Government gets so big we can’t just fire them anymore, and need to use force? Come on, really? In this day and age? I think our system works just fine.
So the modern argument of the day is protection of life and property. And I am hard pressed on this. Because home invasions happen and locked doors don’t stop them.
Addressing mental illness will not make us safe. Besides, as I explained earlier, mental illness in many cases evolves. It can be mild or severe, permanent or temporary, involve murderous illusional intent or not. One can be perfectly sane when purchasing a gun and later be a murderous mental maniac. But providing more mental health awareness and care is not going to stop it simply because not everybody will seek mental care in a crisis, regardless of how much it is available. Not everybody will realize there is a problem.
Another consideration is the fact that protecting your home against invasion has been turned around to include just plain carrying anywhere you go. Protection against muggers and purse snatchers. ATM bandits. Stalkers and rapists. You name it.
I can definitely see the need for that. I myself have been attacked twice in my life, mugged in my late teens in New Jersey and jumped by a gang in Florida in my late twenties, in which I was hospitalized. It’s no fun. But in both instances I never saw my assailants, and if I had had a gun I wouldn’t have had a chance to use it. But they may have.
Also, while I can see the need to carry, people don’t just carry. They leave it on their car seat, or its floating around in some ladies purse with the safety off, or laying around the house. They don’t use the thing, and lose complete respect of the fact that it is a weapon. People end of getting hurt.
And consider the gun collectors, especially the ones that just collect different modern day weapons. They have assault weapons, regular handguns, rifles, etc. Once again, for show, not for use. Is locking them up by traditional methods effective? Even banks can get robbed.
So what’s my stance? What’s my decision? Am I for allowing possession or against?
Look, to this day I don’t carry a gun. Because I am afraid I will hurt somebody by accident, even if I thought it was self protection at the time. And I have survived.
At the same time, the Second Amendment has saved lives. Proven fact.
But has cost lives too. Proven fact.
It really is a tough choice.
How would you feel if your elderly Mom or Dad was gunned down in the supermarket? How would you feel if your elderly Mom or Dad had a gun?
How would you feel if your kid was gunned down in school? How would you feel if the teacher carried in a class full of little kids?
How would you feel if someone broke into your house under the influence of drugs and threatened you with a gun? How would you feel if you shot and killed that someone and it is a 14 year old kid with a water gun?
How would you feel if you enjoyed collecting all kinds of weapons and thought you were responsible and kept them safely locked up and your kid in a bout of mental illness found your key and went and shot a whole classroom of 6 year old kids, a whole fucking town full of people’s babies?
Oh shit. Shit, shit, shit.
For gun control, against allowing possession of guns in America.