In general, I try to avoid this topic entirely. It’s so hot button for people and I think that might be part of the overall problem. I guess my thoughts are more on extreme thinking, in that regard, and less about guns in general.
I didn’t grow up with guns so much as I grew up where guns were present. They were locked away and off limits but still, we all knew they were there. My husband grew up with guns a lot more so than I ever did. He has a gun his grandfather made for him, as well as the gun his grandfather made for my husband’s mother. We actually have a number of guns that we next to never shoot, but they’re guns his grandfather made and important to the family. We never asked for them, but when they had to be out of his mother’s house, we took them.
It’s a weird thought, almost. I hate to say I’m a “gun owner”, because I don’t want to be lumped in with those people. I’m nowhere near anti-gun, either. Guns exist, guns are not evil, and with all the right precautions, guns can be a lot of fun. But if I owned no guns? I’d probably never buy one.
The part that gets to me are the two polar opposites of this debate. I see a lot of people, especially veterans, ranting and railing day after day about how Obama is coming for their guns, the liberals are trying to outlaw guns, can’t take these guns dammit I’m a proud American who fought for this great nation! <=All that, right there? First of all, wrong, and second of all-a little worrisome. Only the crazy other side wants no guns at all, and they’re not necessarily any better. And that fanatical love for full and semi-automatic weapons honestly is a bit far for me. This isn’t a rational position, it’s taking suggestions that some guns be regulated, the idea that there be greater accountability to gun owners, dealers, and traders, and turning it into an idiotic victimization of their gun-toting patriotism. Side note: We’re never going to overthrow the government with hunting rifles, sorry, not buying it.
But on the other side, you have a lot of people who don’t understand guns and vilify them. Guns don’t do anything on their own, and to just write off the hunters and enthusiasts as radicals and rednecks is willfully ignorant. Guns are not the problem. The owner of a gun modified to look, well, cool, is no more likely to kill a person just because you’re more scared of his gun’s aesthetics. On top of that, the language we’ve chosen to assign to these scarier weapons isn’t helping. “Assault Rifle” sounds like something you’d assault somebody with, instead of just a different kind of gun, with different capabilities. The ignorance is harmful as it further polarizes a raw and heated debate with fear-based opinions.
The debate needs to happen and something needs to be done, but these are the loudest voices. Saying, “I like guns but we need to reach a middle ground” isn’t a good sound byte. No one’s making a “Share if we should have a reasoned discussion about this because I want to hear your side” jpeg on Facebook that gets a bubillion likes. It gets so frustrating when there’s only extremes being argued. Everyone will talk but no one will listen, they’ve written off the other side before they even met the other side. This “My way or the highway” attitude that resounds through all debates and political spheres in America is poisonous, killing any chance at progress before we even begin.
Nobody has the answers but everyone in charge of trying to find them won’t admit that. But I feel like that’s where we have to start, be it guns, healthcare, the economy, education or this perpetual war. We need to admit that nobody has the answer but if we fairly examine the best ideas, we can being to try. If we try solutions, weed out the weak, and keep improving, maybe eventually we’ll start to see resolutions and progress. But I fear this polarization, this poison, is so deep in the heart of all things American that we’re spiraling and losing latitude, while everybody in the cockpit slaps each other and yells about whose fault it is instead of pulling up.
These mass killings were done by people. People who fell through the cracks or were messed up or were just bad. Guns aren’t to blame. Mental illness isn’t to blame. Video games, violent movies, and rock and roll have never made anyone shoot up a mall or theater or school. Stop trying to find something tangible and real that you can plaster a picture up of and make a law about. We’ve tried that and it’s not working. It’s time to talk about what will work.
And last, hug your children. Love your children and teach them to love others. Tell them they are responsible for every word they say and every action they take. If they choose to hurt someone with words or actions, they don’t get to pawn the responsibility off on a movie or cartoon. They did that. They are to blame. It sucks, but you have to take responsibility for you as well. Not everybody’s happy ending works out, but at the end of the day, we get to define ourselves. We get to decide what we make of what we have, how we push ourselves, how we grow. Stop blaming others and start stepping up. If we are to lead our little ones into a better future, it starts with teaching them strength and love, but we have to show them how.