In the wake of last week’s heartbreaking school shootings, I’ve been seeing a lot of people opining about why there’s so much gun related violence in the United States. Many people, myself included, think that there are way too many guns available, they are too powerful, and they are much too easy to acquire. There are also a lot of very angry, disillusioned, mentally ill people in the United States. And since it’s easier to buy a gun than access competent mental health services, there’s a lot of violence. Too many people are being killed. Too many CHILDREN are being killed, or permanently affected, by angry young men with guns. That’s what I think, anyway.
But there’s another side to this issue. There are so many other people who don’t think guns are a problem. They love to spout off that old trite saying, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” And they say things like, “People have been killing each other forever.” They hold the Second Amendment near and dear to their hearts, as if the right to keep and bear arms is the most important thing in our Constitution. Many of these folks actually believe that owning guns will keep them free.
I grew up near Yorktown, Virginia, which is where victory was declared in the American Revolution. I know the origin of the Second Amendment, which was ratified December 15, 1791, along with the other nine articles of The Bill of Rights. In those days, for many reasons, owning guns made more sense. But the right to bear arms has gotten out of hand. A whole lot of innocent people are being killed, not just because there are enraged, unhinged people who go crazy and spray bullets everywhere, but because people get careless. I’ve read many heartbreaking stories about children killing or hurting themselves, or other people, because they’ve had access to someone else’s improperly stored weapon. Somehow, we never seem to learn from those stories. Americans are still crazy about their guns.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of apologists coming out against gun control. They all seem to say the same thing. The reason why people are being killed isn’t because of easy access to guns. It’s because of poor parenting. It sounds crazy as I hear it in my head, and it looks crazy as I type out those words. But there are apparently a lot of people who believe that if people would just be better parents, there would be less violence.
About twelve years ago, Bill and I lived in rural Fayetteville, Georgia. We liked living there, especially since we found a house in a remote area, where we had a lot of privacy. Not surprisingly, a lot of people near where we lived were staunch Republicans who loved their guns. I minded conservatives less in those days, so it didn’t bother me much. That was before so many other children had died, although Wikipedia tells me that even in 2010 and 2011, a whole lot of kids were killed at school by gun toting “ammosexuals”. But, the truth is, I probably just didn’t think about gun violence as much back then.
While we were living in Fayetteville, I subscribed to the local newspaper. I still get emails from that paper every week, even though we moved to Sanford, North Carolina, a similar community, in April 2011. Yesterday, I got the latest issue of The Citizen out of Georgia, and I noticed a letter to the editor written by a man who asks, “Instead of fewer guns, how about better parents?” When I saw that headline, I inwardly groaned. Yet again, just like the “Q guy” I wrote about the other day, this guy was actually blaming “bad parenting” and “lack of respect” on the extreme gun violence in the United States.
The author of the letter to the editor fears “big government”. He begins his screed by lamenting about how Democrats want to take away his guns in the name of “safety”, and fears that if he loses his guns, he will be “vulnerable” to government overreach. Once again, I have to shake my head. Does this man actually believe that the government can’t and won’t take away his guns now? Does he really think he can outgun the government? I don’t see it.
A gun might be useful to have if a wild animal invades your home. It might also be a great thing to have a gun if someone breaks into your house. But guns cannot and will not protect anyone from government overreach. If guns could do that, maybe women who don’t want to be pregnant wouldn’t have to worry about being forced to gestate, and potentially prosecuted if they miscarry. If you get caught breaking the law, and your crime is serious enough, the police will come and arrest you. Your guns won’t save you in that situation. And if the United States is successfully invaded, say, by Russia, China, or North Korea, it’s not likely that your arsenal of guns will prevent that from happening, either. Maybe you can pick off a few people, but eventually, you’ll probably run out of ammo and you’ll be saying goodbye to your guns.
Against my better judgment, I kept reading this man’s rationale as to why he must be allowed to keep his guns, even though so many innocent children have been killed by them. And I have to say, I found his reasons why gun violence is such a huge problem to be pretty offensive. He says that “liberals” who are “woke” and obsessed with inflicting “socialism” on the United States are the reason why people are killing each other. He thinks religion– specifically Christianity– and strict parenting can solve this problem. I wonder how the parents of the dead children in Uvalde would feel reading this letter, which basically blames THEM, for the fact that an 18 year old kid was able to buy a rifle on his birthday and shoot up their school.
I’m reminded of what I used to hear when I was a small child, and hated wearing seatbelts in the car. I still hate seatbelts, mind you, but I do wear them. If I don’t, Bill turns into Pat Boone. 😉 But anyway, my childlike logic back then was that I knew my parents were “safe drivers”. After all, they always wore their seatbelts, even if they didn’t often make me wear one. I don’t remember my mom ever being in an accident. My dad was in a car accident, back in 1979, but he never was again after that. So, being a kid with so much vast life experience, I figured I had nothing to fear. But later, when I married Bill, he said “I could be the safest and best driver on the road, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a nut out there on the road who could ruin our day.”
Seems to me, the same logic applies to “good guys with guns”. You could be the safest and most conscientious person in the whole world, when it comes to firearms. You could be the best and most attentive parent, too, and teach your child to always be respectful, courteous, and kind. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be nuts out there who could ruin your day, because THEY aren’t safe, conscientious, or attentive.
Speaking of cars… I see on the above letter to the editor, people have left comments. One person wrote this:
Do you know what the common denominator to any shooting is? Guns.
And sure enough, someone argued that people kill people. They wrote:
Do you know what else is a common denominator? An idiot or idiots who make the choice to take out their anger in a horrible way and take human lives. That denominator is also the reason for the Wisconsin car massacre where a deranged black man drove through a mostly white parade crowd and killed multiple people. Should we take cars away to prevent this from happening again?
Ah yes… the “people kill each other with cars” argument. Well, let’s analyze that for a moment, shall we? In order to be legally allowed to drive a car, one has to be properly licensed. Getting a license requires training and testing, being old enough, and registering with one’s local Department of Motor Vehicles (there’s that darned government overreach again). Why do we have those rules? Because they promote safety and accountability. Automobile manufacturers are also required to install safety features in their cars. Drivers are required to have liability insurance, in case of an accident or negligence that hurts someone else. And if you get caught driving under the influence of a substance, even if you don’t actually hurt or kill anyone, you can get in serious trouble.
It’s true that people can be killed in creative ways, such as the one described in the above comment. Hell, twenty-one years ago, thousands of people were killed when lunatics took over four airplanes and deliberately crashed them into buildings. And you know what? After 9/11, laws changed worldwide, so that such a tragedy might never happen again. So why can’t we do something about the gun violence in the United States? Why should almost any “idiot” over age 18, who can’t even legally buy a beer or a pack of cigarettes, have the ability to buy a gun? Especially guns that can kill twenty-one people– nineteen of them, innocent children– in a matter of minutes?
I would imagine that most of the parents of the children killed in Uvalde, Texas, last week, were good parents, doing the best they could. But being good parents didn’t save their children from a gun toting madman. Maybe Salvador Ramos should have had better parents, but he didn’t. Besides, plenty of people have had “bad parents” and not gone on shooting sprees. Simply having had bad parenting is NOT why people kill. I seem to remember Sue Klebold, Dylan Klebold’s mother, being, by all accounts, a good parent. I even saw her interviewed in a documentary, during which she described what it’s like to be the mother of a school shooter. She came across as a warm, caring, conscientious woman. But her son still teamed up with Eric Harris at Columbine High School in April 1999 to shoot and kill 15 people and injure 21 others. They certainly didn’t resort to that kind of horrific violence simply because their parents failed to raise them properly.
I have been living in Germany now for almost eight years. It was never our intention to live here for so long. In some ways, I miss “home”. I haven’t seen my family in a very long time. But I have to admit, I am very grateful that I can live in a safe country with “socialist” laws (eyeroll). Why? Because I never feel the need to worry about people like Salvador Ramos killing me while I’m out and about at the weekend market. I like that Europeans have more respect for communities as a whole, and I don’t agree that having the right to carry a gun makes me “freer”. I certainly don’t think that owning a pistol will save me from “government overreach”. Dammit, I’m really tired of reading the bullshit “thoughts and prayers” apologetics from ignorant conservative people who don’t see the forest for the trees. Guns are a huge problem. We really need to fix it.
And telling people they just need to be “better parents” is about as effective as pissing in the wind.