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Trying to take care of my little piece of the planet

A Duel With Myself

Rants are easy. Because when you’re absolutely certain that your solution is the right one, finding the words to make your point borders on fun.

This is not fun. This is hard. Because I’m genuinely conflicted. Not just between the rational me and the emotional me, but within each camp there are arguments and counter-arguments over what (if anything) to do about guns. I have been out of town, on the road since Friday’s tragedy, and while I realize that many well thought out arguments have been penned and publicly shared, I have yet to try and absorb any of them. So far, I have simply been having a difficult conversation with myself.

On December 11th, in an incredible stroke of poor timing, I commented on Facebook that I’m not your typical liberal, stating: ‘I own firearms. Get over it.’ On December 14th, a twenty year-old with no criminal record murdered twenty children who were less than eight years old, and their teachers.

The murderer committed this crime with a gun not terribly different from one that I own.

If headlines and social media are any indication, that act last Friday sounded an alarm to this nation. But cynically, so have similar massacres in high schools and colleges and places of worship and work across this nation. Year after year. Tragedy after tragedy, with dozens of innocent victims. And each time it happens, we wake to the alarm, but then hit the snooze button and drift back down into slumber. Until it blares again, announcing more gun-related funerals.

I yearn for a solution, knowing that as a gun owner, I am in large measure, the problem.

The liberal in me accepts that gun ownership should be regulated and monitored, and believes that more guns in the public sphere does not make us safer. I also agree that certain semi-auto weapons (banned until 2004) should have stayed banned, along with high capacity ammo clips and armor-piercing cartridges. But the ‘other’ me absolutely balks at the thought of making private possession of handguns illegal, or similar attempts to disarm law abiding citizens. In my conflicted opinion, there are practical, legal and cultural hurdles to such draconian measures, making them simply untenable. And frankly, if such bans were imposed tomorrow, I would ignore them.

As I said: ‘I’m part of the problem.’ Or am I?

I believe that an upstanding citizen has the right to protect themselves. In my case, as a rural resident, I am the first responder, with the nearest 911-dispatched law officer a minimum of twenty minutes away. Thus, I own a gun and am proficient in its use. It’s my job. That said, I don’t need a thirty-round magazine for personal defense. Neither does any other law-abiding citizen. Do criminals have them already? Hell yes. So give law enforcement the best tools possible, but get as many of the high capacity non-hunting weapons used in Columbine and Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook, off the street as possible beginning with their manufacture and importation. Despite the fact that you’ll never make them disappear, this alone will help. Because, this is not about criminals (who will have them). This is about crazy.

So, in addition to banning hi-cap magazines (again) and assault weapons (again), and beefing up gun registration and background checks, and all the other ‘assaults on the Second Amendment’ that conservatives scream about, there is one other infringement on civil liberties that absolutely needs to happen, and this one will infuriate the liberals. We need to take a serious look at dismantling the statutes that protect the privacy of batshit crazy people. And of the mental health professionals and families that shield them with good intent, like the mother of Friday’s monster. Because none of these horrific crimes were committed by hardened criminals. No, these crimes were committed by people with long histories of serious mental illness, who should never have been within a mile of a gun of any kind. And who used completely legal means to acquire them. That is a travesty. And if addressing it tramples on their civil rights. Tough shit.

So, yes, we need to make changes. But both sides have to give some ground. Because while this country would be better off if only the police had guns, that genie left the bottle long ago and ain’t coming back. So, yes let’s turn off the spigot, ending the flood of guns not designed for hunting or self-defense, and let’s monitor purchases of weapons and ammo. But let’s also break down privacy barriers that protect the ‘rights’ of psychotics, while endangering the rest of us. And our children.

Yeah. I’m square in the middle on this one.

3 Responses to “A Duel With Myself”

  1. Well said.

  2. I share your conflict, but I think there is common ground to be found in order to address this problem. Only the most extreme will refuse to recognize that, and I know that neither of us are extremists!

  3. I absolutely agree with you. But off the top of my head, I can’t think of a problem that would be more complicated to fix the way it should be, than this one.

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