Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dodging Bullets While You're Trying To Find Your Way

Okay. I was hoping to avoid this. I really was. I've mentioned several times how sick and tired I am of this nonsense, but I was pushed over the edge tonight. I'm doing this once. I'm jumping into the gun control debate/war/bullshit nonsense.

Okay. I'm taking three minutes to step away from the blog, not be angry and I'll be back. You'll be here, right?

Okay. Now that I am calm I will proceed with much less ranting than would have gone on had I not taken a moment.

I want to start by saying that I am well and truly sick of the whole gun control issue. Seriously. I am tired of Facebook and Twitter posts on it, I'm sick of my morning news being inundated with updates about the whole issue and what the government plans to do about it. I'm just tired of it all. That said, though, there was a post on Facebook tonight by one of my acquaintances that set me off. I want to discuss it now so that I can get all of this off my chest and get the angry out of my brain because it will irritate me all night if I do not.

First things first, I want to be clear. I am not anti-gun. We have a gun in our house. Everyone in our home knows how to operate it. I even recently went to the gun range with Dad and shot a few rounds. It was relaxing and an interesting form of recreation. Now that we have that out of the way, let's proceed.

I think there should be gun laws, and that they should be enforced. Here's a list of things I think are a good idea:

If you want to purchase a gun you should have to pass a criminal background check. I don't think people with a criminal background, especially a violent one, should be able to own a gun. I'm not talking parking tickets or whatever, either. I'm talking about drugs, robbery, assault- that sort of thing. These people have already proved that they are a danger to society and should not be allowed to further endanger it by having possession of a firearm.

I also believe you should have to take some sort of basic mental health test before you get one. No, no one is completely adjusted. But I do think that we could do more to keep guns out of the hands of maniacs by doing this.

I believe that all guns should be sold by licensed dealers who would be held responsible for the sale of weapons to unsuitable people, people who by law should not be in possession of those weapons. I also believe that every gun should be registered. This means that the serial number on each gun should be kept in a register by the government and when that gun is sold by its owner it should be re-registered in the name of its new owner. If a private gun owner should want to sell their firearm, they should be held to the same regulations as a dealer would be held to. This enhances accountability of all parties involved. Once a gun is registered, the owner should have to produce some form of annual or biannual verification that they are still in  possession of that gun. If they are not, they should be able to provide details as to where that gun has gone.

All people who own a gun should have to take classes in firearm safety and use. This is already a requirement for conceal and carry in many states. I do not think it unreasonable that it should be a requirement for all gun owners. If you're going to have a deadly weapon in your home, you should know how to operate it. I think that's reasonable.

I don't think private citizens need to own automatic weapons. Period. I have never heard one good reason they need to posses them. Not one. And no, I don't count "The Constitution says I can, and I like shooting them" as a good reason.

I am not saying that there should be no guns. I think a person has a right to protect their personal autonomy and that of their family. I think they are useful in the context of recreation and hunting. I think that using them for that purpose is fine. I do. There's nothing wrong with that. But I also think there is nothing unreasonable about wanting there to be limits to ownership as a matter of personal and public safety.

I've heard a lot of people spout statistics about gun violence versus other violence. I don't really hold with it. There have been relatively few (and none in recent memory) mass killings with weapons like knives. I'm not saying it can't be done, only that it is much harder to do. In my state, and in many of the states around me, there are already in place many restrictions on the sale of knives as well. Certain kinds are prohibited and there are rules about the ones that are sold by licensed dealers. There is no fuss over that. As an outdoorsman, I use knives and prefer them as a form of personal protection. But I do not argue that some are more dangerous than others and should be restricted.

No one seems to argue that access to explosives that can create bombs and deadly gasses should be restricted. Everyone seems to think this is reasonable. No one cries out second amendment rights over these restrictions, even though those things are also used as forms of "arms" for out "militia" - the US military. That is because it is recognized that for the common good it is much better to have restrictions to protect the citizenry of this country. I see gun control as just that, an effort to make sure that the use of these weapons is controlled.

I have never, not once -despite the hysteria of my more conservative friends- heard any elected official ever suggest that all guns should be made illegal. I have never heard them suggest that no person should be able to own them. I have only heard that there should be reasonable restrictions to the sale and purchase of those guns. I don't think that is unreasonable. If you are, as most of my friends claim, a responsible gun owner than you have already registered your firearm, taken classes, know how to use is and purchased them in a legal manner. A person such as that should have no problem with these suggestions because they are already operating within the bounds of the law. Unless, of course, they own an automatic weapon. And to all of those people I reiterate- Why? What in the name of heaven do you need one for. Give me a reasonable answer and I might change my mind. But to date, I've never heard one.

Now, for the thing that truly set me off tonight and made me want to talk about this. This picture:

As both a liberal and a rape victim I cannot tell you how much this offends and upsets me.

First, because not all rapes are preventable by the use of a gun. In fact, most rapes (statistically 80-85%) are done by someone you know, in a setting familiar to you. Sure, if you're in a dark alley you might be willing to pull out a gun and shoot that person. Unfortunately, most of us will not carry (even if we have a conceal carry permit) a gun on a date, a trip with our family to a church event or in our own homes or the homes of our friends. This is simply an impracticable solution.

Second, this is an advocating violence to repress violence. I don't agree with that. Now, I am not saying if you are attacked you shouldn't fight back. You should. In fact, I encourage every woman I know to take a rape prevention and self defense course. If you are a male and there is a local organization who will allow you to attend, by all means do so (a lot will not, since it makes women feel vulnerable, though it is certainly true that men can be attacked as well, and that shouldn't be forgotten.). But pulling out a gun and shooting creates a whole new ballgame when it comes to violence. Yes, I agree that preservation of personal autonomy is important, and sometimes deadly force is necessary, but I also think that it is important to remember that once a gun is put into the picture of any scenario the likelihood of someone being gravely injured or killed is substantially raised. Do I think sex offenders should be punished? Absolutely. To the fullest extent of the law. But I also think it is important to be mindful of the consequences of your actions, self-defense or no.

Most of you who have known me for some time know that I was attacked by my pastor's son (whom I was dating) and several of his friends. Had I pulled out a gun and shot them, I cannot even begin to imagine the fallout from that decision. Would it have stopped the attack? Maybe. But several of those men were also gun  owners, and they could have hurt me as well. Would I have stopped it if I could? You know I would have. But the use of a gun would not have aided me in any substantial way in that situation, and I am aware of it. There had not been, in the whole of my life, a single situation where I was involved in some sort of personal violence where I would have been okay with pulling a gun and shooting that person. Those of you who know me well will know how that speaks volumes to the amount of personal control I have now, considering the horror I have of those events and the resulting personal damage that it caused me.

Finally, and I cannot say this enough, this picture is a vile and horrible way of scaring people into the acceptance of guns. I do not advocate or own a gun because I was raped. I do not advocate the use of rape as a means of convincing anyone that your political agenda is acceptable. Only a person who has been raped or who has a loved one who has lived through that terrible ordeal can understand the magnitude of the experience, or the horror that this sort of threat presents. I do not like being told that if I do not allow unrestricted access to guns for all that I or someone I care about will have that happen to them. I do not like rape as a threat. It is unconscionable in my opinion. To further that threat with pictures of rape violence is not only terrifying, it is crass and insensitive. As a liberal, it offends me to no end that any conservative would believe or put about the idea that I would rather have a person violently violated then allow them to protect themselves. As a victim of rape, as an intelligent person and as a woman it disgusts me that anyone would use a tactic like this to frighten and pressure me into agreeing with their political agenda.

I have no problem with the gun control debate, so long as it is intelligent and civil. I think there are reasonable solutions that everyone can agree on. But I do not agree and will never condone the use of that sort of tactic to encourage people to make a certain decision. I am thoroughly tired of listening to the hysteria and accusations of both sides and a am irritated to no end that I am forced to look at images like that one any time someone wants to shock or cause debate, or whatever.

I think that, in all things, being reasonable and intelligent can solve this issue.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can go about my business and avoid a personal explosion on Facebook with regards to this particular political issue. I'm always willing, of course, to discuss the issue, though I would encourage everyone (always) to be reasonable, rational and avoid the name calling and pettiness that always seems to accompany this sort of hot-button political issue.

Peace and Love, Y'all

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