On Guns and Innocent Victims… Again

This isn’t the first time I’m writing about guns, shootings, and innocent dead people and I’m not naive enough to think this will be the last. This latest mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub (why do we keep identifying it as a gay nightclub? Who cares?) is being called the worst in history and that’s saying something.

Honestly, I’ve said it all before. I said it in May of 2014 after the Isla Vista shootings near UC Santa Barbara that left six students dead and fanned the lively gun control debate that felt like the most controversial topic in the United States at that time (it wasn’t an election year; clearly the debate is FAR more spirited now). It’s a subject that brings everyone out of the woodwork (see your social feeds for further proof)— and while we all have a right to an opinion (except the dumbass opinions like Joe the Plumber) I feel like as human beings, it’s time to apply some good, old fashioned common sense to the problem. Dare I say other countries have done it, the common sense thing, and it seems to actually work (see the image below).

This topic hit even closer to home several weeks ago when my childrens school was put on lockdown — not a drill — when a person who appeared to be carrying a shotgun was spotted near the school. While my kids hid behind desks and behind locked doors, parents were oblivious and received an email at dismissal from the principal explaining what had gone on during the day. I felt completely violated, scared shitless, and hugged my kids not just a little bit closer that day. A false alarm thankfully, but tragic that we defer to lockdown procedures in schools these days.

After the 2014 Isla Vista tragedy, I had to write, but there wasn’t much to say on the topic that I didn’t write post-Newtown, and the same is true now. Clearly this tragedy is moving congress today but I won’t be holding my breath for change. The cold hard truth is that if that the unspeakable heartbreak that was Newtown wasn’t enough to provoke a change in the consitution, some sort of change to the way we’re doing it since clearly the way we’re doing it just isn’t working right, then I just don’t know if anything ever will. So I’m just re-posting what I wrote on December 16, 2012. Cuz there’s nothing more to say.

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Dec 2012 — I rarely talk politics in this space. While my few forays into highly electric conversation have attracted a record number of readers (Sarah Palin rant, anyone?), I typically reserve this space for thoughts about other stuff that I feel more comfortable speaking about publicly. And while it’s pretty atypical for me to go on about a topic like, say, gun control, just a couple of days after the massacre of little, tiny children in Newtown, Conn., I can’t help myself.

I’m a Canadian living in the U.S. And while I embrace most aspects of life in this country, the super lax gun regulations that is representative of life in most American states is not something I’ve ever been comfortable with. Although I’m grossly familiar with the propaganda about a person’s “right” to bear firearms, there’s no part of that that I understand. (A right to shoot and kill? A right to take someone else’s life at our discretion? Why all the taxes for law enforcement?) Because then there are mentally unstable people owning guns who use them for exactly what they’re intended for — to efficiently and effectively shoot to kill. (Edited to add: I’m not even going to get into the terrorists — I wouldn’t know where to start).

And then there are two angry teenagers in Littleton, Colorado who go to school decked out in one 9-mm semi-automatic, one double-barrel shotgun, a rifle and a 12-gauge pump shotgun, and release188 rounds of ammo — at their peers and teachers — killing 15 people and injuring another 27.

And then there is a deeply disturbed 23 year old student at Virginia Tech who easily acquires two semi-automatic weapons, goes to campus, and proceeds to shoot and kill 32 people, wounding 17 others.

And then there’s a mentally unstable 24 year old male in Aurora, Colorado who goes to a movie theatre and opens fire on unsuspecting movie-goers, killing 12 and wounding 58. This killer had in his posession four weapons including two pistols, a rifle and a shotgun.

Two common themes here — mental illness and guns. One is an unfortunate medical disorder (treatable in some instances if treatment is sought), and guns (mostly controllable with proper regulations, evidenced by laws in other countries).

Over the last 48+ hours since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, I’ve read dozens of debates on every social site out there, about the pros and cons of gun control, the need for free assistance for mental health patients, whether or not gun laws need to be stricter, who’s to blame, and of course, anguish over the loss of such innocent and pure life.

All I know is this — I was walking in a busy mall with my two kids today and suddenly I was overcome with anxiety about our safety. Totally irrational, totally a first for me, but totally a physical and emotional reaction to the pictures of those little faces, brutally shot and killed for no reason, just two days ago.

And I can’t help but think that if that 20 year old shooter hadn’t had access to guns, it’s more than likely that those children and teachers would still be alive. And 26 families wouldn’t be shattered. And 52 or so parents lives wouldn’t be over as they ring in the New Year by burying their children.

You know, I’m seeing things like “let’s talk about mental illness” and “it’s so easy to talk about gun control” but if that were even remotely true, we’d be talking about gun control! Mental illness is not going anywhere. In fact, I’d venture to say that while increasingly treatable, with all of today’s pressures, it’s likely on the rise. But something that can in fact be controlled and is not left to Mother Nature — guns and who is permitted to possess them. So, I’d actually like to talk about gun control.

The fact is this: in many U.S. states, weapons of many kinds are readily available for legal purchase with just a driver’s licence as ID. FACT: It takes longer to be approved to buy a house than a gun. In Canada where the system is far from perfect, it takes up to 60 days to obtain a firearm, after registering, taking a course and going through background checks.

If I hear “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” one more time I’m going to gauge my eyes out. Last time I checked, school shootings were called shootings and not school stranglings or school bow and arrow’ings.

Guns do kill people. In fact, that is exactly what they are designed to do. Not a fucking thing else.

It’s time. It’s happening far too often. I want to feel safe sending my children to school. I want to feel calm walking around a public place. I don’t give a shit if you want the “right” to protect yourself because while you’re protecting yourself, innocent children and adults are dying. And no one has the right to put our lives in danger.

All of you gun-toting Americans — I wonder how you’d feel if it were your child in that casket. Because all it takes is one evil or unstable person to access their “right” and boom — you’re dead.