There are two parts to solving this problem we’ve been facing with mass public shootings. One part is the easy access to powerful, automatic guns, and the second part is the human factor or motive aspect. Many have chosen to primarily focus on the gun laws, which I agree are extremely important, for we do need better, more sensible, gun laws, while others prefer to focus more on the human side of the equation. I will try to do both.
I’ve always hated the expression “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” because it’s actually both. No one has ever denied that people are a very crucial part of the equation. That part goes without saying. But guns are also a very crucial part of the equation. Yes, people kill people, in a huge variety of ways, but guns sure make it a hell of a lot easier for really dumb people to kill a lot of really good people—a thousand times easier! Assault rifles allow one angry person to mow down an entire crowd in very little time. Certain weapons are simply too powerful and too deadly to be wielded by a single individual.
When those of the human race start gunning each other down, at times on a weekly basis, to express their frustrations, it means there is something seriously wrong with our way of life. It should communicate to everyone that it’s a sign of a deeper problem that goes beyond the gun laws. Although, the very loose gun laws don’t help at all. It’s proof that we need to do a better job of raising humankind. Too many of us are simply over worked, over stressed, underpaid, and don’t have enough time to spend with our loved ones to teach and guide them properly. So most are caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life and too many children are not “connected” to the things that truly matter. Unfortunately, as a result, too many are allowed to stray way too far from an honorable, virtuous path. This sets up a chain reaction that affects us all. One spoiled apple can spoil the bunch. Even sadder are all those with mental conditions who go unnoticed, unreported, untreated or incorrectly treated and over medicated. So we as a society need to do a better job of caring for one another and to catch the warning signs of those who might want to lash out. As many have painfully learned, what affects one ultimately affects all others like the spreading ripples in a pond from a tiny, tossed pebble. Whether we like it or not we are all a part of the same human family.
People are often quick to reference the second amendment of the American Constitution, which constitutionally protects our right to bear arms, in order to defend their position that we Americans should always be free to purchase any and all guns under any circumstances. However, The Founding Fathers, as wise as they were, could not and did not foresee the creation of automatic assault rifles, high capacity magazines and gun clips, laser-guided machine guns, grenade launchers, biochemical and nuclear weapons, or perhaps one day, lightsabers and photon torpedoes. Many erroneously believe that the Founding Fathers were flawless, as though they were demigods incapable of making a mistake. But I assure you, they were all humans who did make mistakes. They knew this, which was the very reason they created an amendment provision in the Constitution, so that it could be repaired or “amended,” when necessary. I hate to say it, but the Founding Fathers were naïve to promote and provide the level of freedom they did during the birth of this nation. Many of them even admitted this within their own lifetimes and within their own writings, such as Thomas Jefferson. They understandably wanted to error on the side of too much freedom, given that they had recently been so oppressed by their mother country and British king, so they greatly overcompensated. Thankfully, over the course of history, we have been moving towards a healthier balance between rules and freedom. For example, we’ve slowly learned that we cannot have complete freedom of speech like yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater as a joke or complete freedom of the press like allowing publishers to print and distribute magazines with child pornography. We can’t have complete freedom of religion, either, like allowing devil worshiping that involves human virgin sacrifices or the torture of children and animals. I mean what if it was someone’s religion not to follow the civil laws of man. What if it was against someone’s religion to wear clothes in public. We humans have to give ourselves limits. We can’t have absolute freedom, because complete freedom leads to chaos and anarchy. And know that all freedoms come with a price. The more the freedom the higher the cost. Ironically, we have to have some fences in order to have true freedom.
Speaking of religious freedoms, I’ve recently been trying to do a little research on Muslims and their Islamic faith, which is based on the Quran, and there are things about it that greatly concern me like how the Quran teaches that if you ever try to leave the Islamic religion you should be put to death and how you should kill those who commit adultery or slander the name of the prophet Muhammad and that women should be treated with far less respect than men, and so on. So to me, there are some very disturbing and extremely harmful views within that religion. Now I don’t want to just criticize the Muslim faith, because many religions include very unusual and, at times, disturbing beliefs. For instance, the Abrahamic and Judeo-Christian belief system also teaches that women are second to men and speak of talking snakes and miracles like the parting of the sea and turning water into wine. In Exodus, Moses and his followers, the Israelites, went from town to town killing men, women, and children and even their animals all in the name of their god. They even killed each other in great massive numbers. In fact, the second half of Exodus sort of reads like a Jim Jones tragedy. They also believed in animal sacrifices and in stoning their own members for stealing and for committing adultery and they supported the idea of slavery. In the Bible you can read instructions on how to keep and treat and trade slaves. But most modern-day Christians don’t follow the teachings of their Bible so specifically or so literally. There’s a lot of strange observances and rituals and laws that would conflict with modern laws within the U.S. In modern times, we don’t see Christians stoning each other or sacrificing their livestock as a burnt offering. So most religious doctrines are filled with confusing, disturbing, archaic beliefs and practices that most followers no longer abide by or adhere to. But putting that aside, we do need to carefully evaluate all religions and try to collectively determine if all their principles, practices, and modes of worship are tolerable in modern society. In other words, we can’t allow for absolute complete freedom of any religion or at least the practice or expression of any religious belief.
Republicans, hunters, gun collectors, and those who want to own a gun to protect themselves often fear that Democrats want to take away all their guns and 2nd Amendment rights. But that’s a major exaggeration spread by those on the far right of the political spectrum. It would be extremely difficult to find a Democrat in office who thinks we should ban all guns or all weapons, altogether, or take away all gun rights from every upstanding law-abiding citizen. Sensible politicians within both parties only wish to remove certain gun rights from certain citizens who have proven to be unfit in the eyes of the people and to reduce easy access to ridiculously powerful weapons, along with the production of such highly lethal arms. These type of weapons serve no valuable purpose in society other than perhaps military use during wartime. I mean do we really need powerful assault weapons to defend ourselves from burglaries or home invasions. I would think a simple handgun would be quicker to grab and easier to handle. However, I admit they might come in handy if any type of zombie apocalypse broke out, but I’m fairly certain that’s not going to happen. And we certainly don’t need assault rifles to hunt with, you know, give a deer a sporting chance—damn! To get back to my main point, there are simply those who should not have certain gun rights. For example, teenagers shouldn’t have the right to take loaded guns to school, mental patients shouldn’t be allowed to walk around with vials of deadly viruses that could kill huge populations of people if broken, and those on the terrorist watch list shouldn’t be allowed to order assault rifles on the Internet. To most of us, these are common sense restrictions. These type of individuals should not have the right to bear such deadly arms. Statistics currently show that over 80% of Americans (both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives) agree that we need more sensible, tougher gun control laws that expand background checks to ensure that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands. However, we all know if those bent on killing get angry enough or become determined enough, they will use whatever they can find; a knife, a rock, a stick, even one’s own bare hands to take the life of another. In other words, one almost always has a motive to kill before they do kill. So again, we should never erroneously place all the blame on the objects we call guns, nor can we exonerate their role entirely, either. These objects are not to be completely exempt from any and all blame. Even though guns by themselves don’t kill people, they make it way too easy for bad people to kill good people. For the same reason, we can’t allow young children to walk around with bombs in their back-packs or to carry jars of life-threatening acid in their pockets. In short, we should always try to preserve our freedom to bear what we the people judge to be reasonable arms with common sense regulations to defend ourselves (hopefully non-lethal in most cases) and protect our freedom to own tools to hunt for food, but at the same time, we shouldn’t have complete freedom to own absolutely any weapon regardless of how deadly or destructive or accessible.
To get back to the human equation in all this, we need to examine what allows some to have the mindset to go on a shooting rampage, and others not to? One way to trace down the root causal factors is to look to other nations that do not experience mass shootings. But be careful when doing so, because there are a lot of confounding variables that can cause confusion. For instance, Canada is often used as a good example of a gun carrying nation that does not have these horrible mass shootings. Why is that? Well, statistics do show that colder regions, though they tend to cause more depression, experience fewer crimes. The prevailing theory of why is because it’s often too damn cold to even leave the house. People tend to be less active in colder regions. Warmer climates like those in the U.S., especially in the South, are said to cause citizens to lose their temper far more easily. Also Canada has a much lower population than the U.S. (roughly 1/10th I think) and, therefore, will be less likely to have a mass shooting take place. Perhaps a key ingredient is that Canadians are raised better. Perhaps their children get better attention and are less spoiled. Who knows? Overall though, statistics show that the more guns a nation has and the easier the access to those guns the higher the death count from gun wounds. It has also been shown that most gun related deaths sadly turn out to be of friends and family of the gun owners, not criminals or intruders, and how most of them are either accidents or due to reflexive reactions in the heat of the moment of an argument.
I believe this problem can and will be solved. The lives of all those who were senselessly slain will not have died in vain. Their tragic deaths will be the motivators for needed change. However, I don’t think the solution is to arm all teachers, staff, airline crew members, store merchants and mall vendors, as some have suggested, which would only exacerbate the problem and which would basically send us back to the days of the Wild West where someone could get shot just for snoring too loud, and where drunk people would be shooting one another in every bar each and every night, but I do think it would probably be a good idea to have at least one hidden armed guard in every public building–ideally two and preferably armed with non-lethal weapons. I would also recommend that more people start carrying their own non-lethal arms like pepper spray, stun-guns, and possibly Tasers. I’m sure bulletproof vest will soon come into fashion and will become rather common to wear when going out into public beyond our gated communities, along with helmets and dark tinted face-shields to avoid Big Brother and the paparazzi.
I’m confident that if we can re-strengthen our economy so that the poor and the middle class are greatly lifted, and the elite few no longer reap most of the rewards at the expense of those in need, and if we could just put into place the proper regulations, we will see a major decrease in mass shootings, along with all other criminal acts. We also need to teach our children to have a higher reverence for life, especially human life! We need to encourage a stronger sense of family, become less materialistic and a little more spiritual. This is not to say everyone must follow the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian religion, but that each of us must at least come to realize that we are all a part of a larger, meaningful whole. People must learn to value and respect life more than they currently do. We need to make meaningful adjustments to our culture. I’m not too worried, though, because I have already seen evidence that many are catching on that we can no longer tolerate nor support the cheap, fast paced, over worked, disposable, American way of life. So I’m fairly certain we, as a collective, will soon find our way.
There will never be a perfect system where everybody walks the streets in perfect harmony–in fact, that would be a little creepy–and to some degree, there will always be those among us who have mental and emotional problems and those with radical religious ideas, who are angry and bent on destruction and revenge, but we must all continue to strive towards betterment as much as possible. Believe it or not, statistically, things are getting better. Gun related crimes and deaths are going down in America, employment is on the rise, and the economy is, in fact, healing. Though we will likely have many more rainy days ahead, here and there, I do believe better days are just over the horizon, where life is much better for everyone on a regular basis, so hang tight and try to stay the good course. Your positive outlook will spread far and wide and will help ensure those days do come.
By Guyus Seralius — Dec. 18, 2012