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Monday, December 17, 2012

Time For Some Straight Talk on Guns

Along with what I hope is the majority of my countrymen I have been doing a lot of thinking this weekend.   I posted on Friday on my Mother Has Issues Blog about how I believed that Friday's tragedy was more representative of the problems in our mental health care system than our gun laws, and I still stand behind that assertion.  There are no laws that could have prevented Friday's tragedy, except perhaps the complete criminalization of all private gun ownership, and as much as a few people might be campaigning for that, I really don't think that is ever gonna fly in this country.  And I am still convinced it wouldn't stop the horrendous acts of mass violence, there are too many ways to hurt people, anyone determined to do so will do so, guns or no guns.

That being said, I do believe it is way beyond time for some reasonable and responsible gun laws in this country.  My husband is probably gonna be ticked off at me if he reads this post, but this is where I post MY thoughts, not his, so he will just have to be mad.  If you have followed my writings for any length of time you already know that I have always been a fervent and adamant supporter of personal freedom, and I have always backed that with a firm demand for personal responsibility.  To me the two concepts are dependent upon on another, you cannot have one without the other.  And I think this is where we got lost as a nation.

Personal Responsibility. I think most people have lost sight of just what those words mean.  According to those on the political "right" - it means that if you are poor, that's your fault, or if you get sick, that's your fault.  "You are responsible for your own misery".  According to those on the political "left" - it means every individual needs someone else to tell them right from wrong, no one is responsible for themselves, but we are each responsible for everyone else.  And as usual, reality lies somewhere in the middle.

So I am trying to find a way to balance the reality of the world in which we live today with the ideologies that each of us hold so Dear.  We currently have close to 8 Billion people on this planet.  Over 350 Million people in the United States alone.  So how do we protect the freedoms of more than 350 Million people while still protecting the lives of those 350 Million people?  If you look at our country today it becomes pretty clear that we can't.  Not the way we have been doing it so far, that is for damn sure.

I have mentioned before that I have lived around guns for the majority of my life, most of which were easily accessible, and often loaded.  Most of the members of my family are either members or supporters of the NRA.  All of them own guns.  NONE of them have ever been either the victim or the perpetrator of gun violence.  NONE of them have ever had a weapon stolen, or experienced an incident where one of their children even touched a weapon without permission.  But you know what, while they are perhaps more responsible than many gun owners in this country, they were NOT responsible gun owners.  Not a damn one of them.

I have suffered from severe chronic depression since I was 12 years old, in recent years I traded the depression for the insanity that I now enjoy.  I should NEVER have been allowed access to a fucking gun!  I was extremely suicidal for many, many years, no one even thought to lock up the guns. Now, I am NOT ever going to use one, but there are very fucking good reasons why I have never allowed myself to learn how to use one.  Whether anyone besides me wants to acknowledge the fact or not, I DO suffer with mental illness, and people who suffer with mental illness SHOULD NEVER HAVE ACCESS TO FIREARMS!  Now, according to the law, I am probably perfectly legal to go out and buy any gun I want, but I really shouldn't be, ever.  And if I, as a person who would NEVER use a gun to hurt someone (they make a fucking mess, I cannot do that), and as a person who is able to take personal responsibility for my actions, can see that I should not be allowed to buy a weapon, what the hell is wrong with the rest of this country?         

Those who advocate against any gun control laws often use the argument that more people are killed by cars than by guns every year.  The problem is, we do have lots of laws regarding who can or cannot operate a motor vehicle, and when or how you can do so.  And while those laws may not prevent every death, they sure do cut them down don't they?  Those who advocate for strict gun controls try to say that no one "needs" this automatic weapon, or a cartridge that holds that many bullets.  And they are absolutely right.  But no one "needs" a hundred billion dollars in assets, no one "needs" a six hundred dollar pair of shoes either.  What everyone "needs" is a home to live in, food to eat, and access to medical care when they are sick.  Since when does what someone "needs" have anything to do with our laws or our society?

I do find it terribly difficult to comprehend how the same people who demand the "freedom" to own any weapon they choose are so hell-bent against everyone else's "freedoms".  I will never understand that.  They want to force woman to be assaulted and abused in order to obtain the medical care they need, but heaven forbid they might have to show they are mental stable enough to own an assault rifle.  

I will tell you where I think the first place to start with any "new" gun control laws should be.  I think that the gun owners should be held 100% responsible for the weapons they own or sell. They should be held accountable for the murder of innocent people when the gun they let get stolen is used to commit the crime.  I also think anyone who sells a gun should be responsible for who they sell it to.  If you sell me a gun, and I go kill people with it, you should go to jail with me.  That responsibility should probably be time dependent, like for crimes committed within 6 months of sale.  Not really fair to hold you accountable for something that happens 20 years later. And if I later re-sell the gun, then your responsibilities also end, and mine would begin (as a seller - I would have already been responsible all along as the owner).   Simple things like personal responsibility really could be pretty damn effective if we required them of EVERYONE, but especially of gun owners and gun sellers.

I know I don't have all the answers, no one does.  But we do need to start doing something.  Expecting other people with mental illnesses to be able to know when they shouldn't be having guns is more than a little naive, its just fucking stupid.  And telling every other citizen of this country that your freedom to own a gun is MORE important than their freedom to live a life free from the threat of your guns, well that is just asinine.  If you want the freedom, then you will take the responsibilities, ALL of them.  Now that is fair.

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