Sunday, December 16, 2012

Musings on Mass Shootings, Part 3: Being "Shocked"

I was chastised on FB for posting that I was not "shocked" or "surprised" about the shooting in Connecticut.

Things that happen all the time are not shocking. And, the more I've thought about it, the angrier I've gotten at everyone who has expressed "shock" at what happened.

When you say you are "shocked" about the shooting, you are feeding the myth that events like this are rare, unexpected, isolated events.

They are not.

Something that happens six times in one year is not rare. Gun deaths are not unexpected in this country. They happen so much, we don't even bother reporting them or talking about them half the time. When something big enough that it will make a good ratings-grabbing story happens, we plaster that all over the news (until something shinier comes along, which generally happens in a day or two). Dude, a bunch of little kids had something bad happen to them? Wow! People love that stuff!! Shove cameras and mics in some kindergartners'  faces STAT!! (I have purposefully avoided coverage of this story because, well, that coverage would be on the news, and I'm not playing their disgusting game, but given that this school was in Connecticut, I wager the majority of the people affected are, um, lighter-skinned, no? But that's another blog post.)

This was not something "shocking." It was something horrible. It was something tragic. 

But it was something that happens way too often.

We shouldn't be "shocked." Maybe the first few times, yeah. But by this point? If you're still "shocked," you're not paying attention, and I need you to pay attention.

By this point, you need to be enraged. You need to be outraged. And you need to DO something about it.

Holding yet another candlelight vigil isn't going to do anything. We've done those, nothing's changed.

Arguing about gun control isn't going to do anything either, because instead of talking about things, people start screaming about ridiculous extremes and we never talk about the actual issues, the actual problems, or the actual possible solutions. (Isn't it nice to know the reproductive rights debate isn't the only one who suffers from this particular ailment?)

Arguing about gun control isn't useful either because gun control (or lack thereof) isn't the only problem.

We need to talk about out attitude toward violence, particularly gun violence. What do we choose to put on TV? What do we choose to put in our movies? What do we put in magazines? What does our language reflect? What do our expressions reflect? How do we talk about violence?

We also seriously need to change how we talk about mental health. Can we please stop using "crazy" and "insane" as insults or pejoratives? Can we stop pinning "inspirational" crap about how if you're depressed you're holding on to your past instead of looking to your future, or that you're not praying enough? Can we stop telling people that they're only feeling "depressed" or "sad" because they don't eat enough organic food or aren't exercising enough or the right way? Can we stop blanket vilifying medication, or the need for it? Can we openly talk about mental health? About needing help? About getting help?

Or, and on that note... can we please give people access to that help? Insurance coverage for mental health, and enough time off from work to go to therapy weekly if that's what the person needs? Hey, I need to leave early one day a week, or come in late one day a week, or take an extra-long lunch one day a week. I'll be happy to make up the time by staying late one a day a week, but I need the ability to have that flexibility in my schedule, without you ridiculing me or harassing me about it. Because, seriously, what's going to change if I stay late on Wednesdays and come in late on Thursdays? How different is that from leaving on time every Wednesday and coming in on time every Thursday? I'm working the same amount of hours. Allow the flexibility. Find a time that works for the employee and the employer, but find that time without creating a hardship for the employee.

Don't be "shocked." When you're "shocked," you just stand there.

Be angry. Angry people get stuff done. Let's fix this problem.

Musings on Mass Shootings, Part 2: Self-defense

On anther conversation on FB, a friend, proud gun-owner, said she owns an assault weapon and "doesn't wish to kill anyone." 


The only purpose of a gun is to kill.

If you own a gun, you do so because you plan on using it at some point. And, by design, the reason you use a gun is because you want to kill someone. (If you plan on using a gun to shoot empty cans in an abandoned field, then go buy a Nerf gun. If you own a real gun to shoot cans, then you're too stupid to be trusted with a real gun.)

She did, further down the thread, say she had the gun for protection; she felt safer when she was in the house  alone because of the gun. If you're using the gun "for protection," you are planning on killing someone. You are planning on killing the intruder who's coming in to attack you.

That's not a problem. (If someone is breaking into your house to attack you, yeah, you get to kill them to stop them from killing you first. I'm okay with that.)

But please own up to it.

Oh, and, also? Please do plan on doing it.

If you do not actually want to kill that intruder coming into your house to attack you, then you don't understand how guns work. Guns are for killing, not for scaring. If you point the gun at the intruder and think that is going to be enough to make him go, "Good golly! Well, gee-wilikers, ma'am, I'm ever so sorry to have bothered you. I'll show myself out, if you don't mind."

If you're pointing a gun at someone, you have just given that person permission to shoot you dead first, and given hir a really, really good reason to do so quickly.

I still want to scream at the woman I saw on the news decades ago, when there was a serial rapist in the area where I lived (so I wasted part of my day watching the local news -- hey, I was in college, I didn't know any better. I thought I could actually get information from watching the local news). This woman was so proud of herself, because she was prepared for that rapist, by golly!

"I have a gun right here in my purse! And if that rapist tries to come after me, well, I'll just shoot him in the kneecaps!"

(It was a good thing this was way back when we had the old, fat TVs, because when I started throwing stuff at it, it didn't tip over, like a flatscreen would have.)

Really, woman? REALLY??

Because the dude's just going to stand there while you fish your gun out of your purse, take off the safety, and aim at HIS KNEECAPS.

If this is the way you think guns work, this is the way you think they can be used, you are too stupid to have a real gun. Give it back. And who thought you were capable enough to handle a real gun in the first place??

(Yes, I know, this was ONE person I happened to see on a newscast, and they probably looked for the stupidest clip out of all the people they interviewed. Yes, it is possible that she is the only person in the world who is THIS clueless and thoughtless about guns and how they work. If you think that, I wish I could overestimate humanity the way you do.)

We don't like to admit that we want to kill another person. That just sounds so... mean. And many of us do not think we would be capable of killing another person, even if our life, or the life of a loved one, were in danger. Then there's those of us who don't think we'd ever be able to shoot a gun accurately enough to kill that person coming into my house to hurt me or my child (even if I wanted to do so).

I get that you want to protect your house and your loved ones.

What I don't get is that, with all the brains and ingenuity and entrepreneurship in this country (or all the brains and ingenuity and entrepreneurship that we're always bragging about having in this country), we have not been able to come up with something better than a handgun or an assault weapon.

I don't mean "better" as in "making more people more dead more fast." I mean "better" as in "accomplishing the goal in a safer, more efficient manner with as few side effects or problems as possible."

What about stun guns? Can we develop stun guns to be an effective way to stop an intruder in your home?

What about tranquilizer guns? Like elephant-grade tranquilizer guns?

Why can't we find something that will stop the Bad Guy quickly, is easy to use, and won't cause irreparable DEATH if your kid gets a hold of it and takes it to school, or takes it out to show his friends how cool it is so they'll let him into the Cool Kids Club?

I am honestly asking. Those of you who want to have a gun in the home to defend your home, does it have to be something that will KILL the guy? Or do you just want to stop him, to save yourself and your family?

Me, personally, I don't want to learn how to shoot a gun. I don't know if I have what it takes to pull the trigger, and I don't know if I have what it takes to hit the target. Yes, it is highly likely that in the panic and adrenaline of the moment, if I or my son were in immediate, intense danger I would be able to pull the trigger, but I doubt I would have any accuracy if my state of mind and mood were that affected. However, I can totally see myself shooting tranquilizer darts all over the flippin' place.

I bet there are several people who do not want guns, but who would be open to non-lethal alternatives.

So why don't we want to come up with any? Where is the Steve Jobs of personal defense?

Are these things out there, and I just haven't heard about them because nobody talks about them? Do elephant-grade tranquilizer drugs have more restrictions on them than semi-automatic weapons? And if so, have we seriously not ever stopped to question that and perhaps suggest we flip those???

I know stun guns and elephant-grade tranquilizer are not 100% safe. I don't have any facts or information on side effects and other information, but something tells me guns are significantly more lethal than stun guns and tranquilizers (even elephant-grade ones -- and by the way, ever heard of hyperbole? We don't necessarily need elephant-grade tranquilizers. Lion-grade or alligator-grade would probably work just fine). Please don't tell me my argument is stupid because there are possible side effects to heavy-duty tranquilizers and/or extremely high voltages of stun guns (or repeated exposure to high voltages of stub guns). How do those numbers compare to the number of people who die from being shot?

So, seriously, honestly. Why do we never talk about OTHER self-defense options?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Musings on Mass Shootings, Part 1: The Second Amendment

After a few conversation threads on FB, I've had several thoughts about the shooting in Connecticut and, well, all the other shootings we've had (so far) this year and all the gun deaths that go unreported because they're not good-looking, affluent, and/or white people dying.

First, let's get this one out of the way: the big hullabaloo is about The Almighty Second Amendment.

As one FB friend pointed out, we don't give much of a hoot these days on what The Founding Fathers' original intent was regarding the rights of women or Black people (we've allowed President Obama to be elected president TWICE, and he's not even supposed to be a FULL PERSON according to the Original Intent of The Almighty Founding Fathers!!! oh, wait... is that why Congress has refused to work with the Prez? Because he's only three-fifths of a person?) We've realized The Founding Fathers, omnipotent and all-knowing as they were, were... um... how can I put this... WRONG about some things.

*watches for lightning*

*none strikes*

*carries on*

Isn't the whole idea of amendments to the Constitution kind of proof that The Almighty Founding Fathers kind of... knew that they did not know EVERYTHING? That things may change and changes may need to be made as things change?

If the right for citizens to own personal arsenals were that key to the existence and success of this country, shouldn't that have been part of the original Constitution, instead of merely an amendment?

However, let's leave all that over there for a second.

The Almighty Second Amendment, according to the National Archives, reads as follows:

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

(That must have been a severe comma surplus they had going on back in Revolutionary times. Were they that angry with the King they had to not only whoop his army, but also butcher his language? But I digress...)

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" because we need those people to be "a well-regulated militia" because such "well-regulated militia" is "necessary to the security of a free State."

Have the people clamoring about the Second Amendment read the Second Amendment? Doesn't it say right there "well-regulated"?? So why are we against regulations? Good ones, that would keep the militia, these armed people who keep and bear arms, well regulated?

Oh, yeah... and that "militia" part? Doesn't that clearly indicate that the people who keep and bear arms are in this "well-regulated militia" (because that's the reason we're not infringing on their right to keep and bear their arms)? So... are all gun owners enlisted in the Army Reserves? And if not WHY NOT?? Don't you want to make The Founding Fathers proud?? Don't you want to honor their wishes and Original Intent??

How can you be a "well-regulated militia" if you're not in an organized group, like the Army Reserves? Or better yet, actual military service? You can't sit in your house with your guns and claim to be part of "a well-regulated militia." Sorry, NO.

The Founding Fathers, your buddies, gave you (after they thought about it for a while, since they didn't include it in the real document to begin with) the right to defend your country, not your house. Don't put words in The Founding Fathers' mouths, just because they're dead. That's not nice or fair.

Look, I'm not saying that I personally believe every person who wants to own a gun needs to enlist in the Army (or other Armed Forces) in order to earn the privilege of having a gun in hir house. All I'm saying is that if you're going to use the Second Amendment as your reason, then you'd better know what it says and what it means. Unless you're ready to discuss establishing some good regulations on gun ownership and perhaps imposing some civic duty components into gun ownership, please STFU about the Second Amendment.

(PS: I'm sure none of what I've written here is original or revolutionary. But it's the first time I've thought of it and the first time I've said it, and this is my blog so there. I get to say what I want, no matter how many other great minds have said the same thing before me.)

This post got kind of long (who, me, rambling?? What?? Who'd a thunk it...) so I'm going to stop here. (That, and I sort of forgot my other brilliant thoughts while posting this one. Let me revisit those FB threads and take notes this time.) But hey, kids, stay tuned!