Guns: I Wish I Were Writing About Anything Else

July 10, 2016

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As I try to keep my head above water in the ever-cresting tide of gun violence, I posted a simple observation about guns on Facebook this week:

Despite the strange popularity of handguns and semi-automatic rifles, I can’t recall hearing any uplifting, feel-good stories about them — just murders, suicides, avoidable accidents, and other tragedies. I can’t wrap my little brain around the fascination with devices designed specifically to kill.

Within minutes of posting this, “friends” I haven’t heard from in years were coming out of the woodwork in defense of the sacred and beloved Second Amendment. One or two comments were a reasonable attempt to defend this almighty right, but most were basically calling me an unpatriotic idiot. One family member even commented that I shouldn’t post such “nonsense,” and that my dad would be upset with me. I laughed out loud at this one. Oh, is my daddy going to be upset? (By the way, he’s not.)

If you read my post again you’ll notice that I never mentioned anything about gun control or the Second Amendment, yet that is where so many gun supporters — gun lovers — took it. So this got me thinking about both the Constitution and safety, as well as the current state of our nation.

First, let’s talk about the Constitution. The Second Amendment is a hot topic. Most who support the right to bear arms claim that we must always protect it. I, like most people in favor of gun control, do not want to see this right given up, or desire to see all guns confiscated. But let’s look beyond the term “gun control” for a moment, and focus on the Constitution. When the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, our country had been independent from England for only eight years. Militias were still in regular use, despite being somewhat frowned upon by some (including George Washington). The army and navy, both established in 1775, were still in their infancy. Guns were regularly used for hunting (the main source of food) and were typically very long (and difficult to hide), single shot muskets that had to be slowly loaded through the muzzle.

When I process all of this information, the right to bear arms in 1791 makes perfect sense. We weren’t packing semi-automatic handguns in our pants or carrying rifles with high-capacity magazines that can spray bullets as quickly as someone can pull a trigger. But hey, maybe our incredibly wise founding fathers, the framers of our Constitution, would have been okay with the average farmer or blacksmith owning these types of weapons.

I’m sure that gun-lusters — wait, that’s not fair, Constitutionalists is a better term — are also familiar with and in favor of all the other amendments. I have to assume they think all things included (and not included) from the Constitution are equally important and relevant today. Like the Third Amendment, which limits the government’s ability to use our homes to house soldiers during wartime without the consent of the owner. This doesn’t seem very relevant today, but I guess you never know when we might be at war, and a law could (legally) be passed to force us to let soldiers occupy our homes. Completely irrelevant today — and wrong, yet widely accepted by our all-knowing founding fathers — is the exclusion of rights for minorities and women in the Constitution. In fact, many of these enlightened men owned slaves. Oddly, this is rarely mentioned by those supporting the Second Amendment and/or Constitution today. When brought up, some will remark that, “It’s just how things were back then.” I have to chuckle when I hear this because it only supports my point. It’s also strange how modern gunslingers, while using the rights of the Constitution and the Second Amendment as their defense against gun control, simultaneously bash those using their First Amendment right to express opinions in favor of it.

The term “gun control” almost always refers to an effort to make guns and gun ownership safer, in turn making our country a safer place to live freely. It should not be associated with banning all guns, as many jump to conclude. I seriously ask what is wrong with increasing safety measures? Why should it be easier to buy a gun than to buy a car, or even get a license to drive? Why can someone on a terrorist watch list purchase a gun legally? Why should any dude — with no training and potentially no good judgement or common sense — be able to buy a rifle that trained military personnel have accidents with? What’s wrong with increased safety?

For example, no right-minded person says:

Henry Ford, our brilliant forefather in the automobile industry, didn’t have life-saving seat belts in his cars. And that’s why we shouldn’t have them today. It’s just that simple. By the way, the laws of the road are infringing on my freedom. Before you know it the government is just going to take away our cars. 

Football used to be played without helmets or pads. That’s how it should be today. Batting helmets, catchers’ gear, and gloves in baseball…stupid. Sports today are too safe and that’s why no one wants to play or watch them. Pretty soon the government is just going to ban sports. 

Don’t even get me started on the absurdity of things like building and fire codes…it’s all just the government taking away my right to get hurt. I refuse to give up my rights!

I suppose it’s true that bad guys, not guns, purposely kill people. Guns just make it much easier for them to kill more people. Potentially many more. If you are one of the gun supporters who say a bad guy will use a baseball bat if he doesn’t have a gun, my response is simple — I’ll take my chances with the bat, and bats don’t make good weapons for mass-murders. Bats do create some great feel-good stories in baseball, however. Handguns and high-powered rifles do serve a very important purpose — they help the military and police protect us (and themselves). I personally see no reason for any civilian to own any weapon capable of literally shredding a body in seconds, however I am willing to listen to respectful, intelligent arguments to the contrary. However, if your argument is that bad guys will get semi-automatic guns, even if they are banned, I ask you to check how many automatic weapons — banned by Ronald Reagan — have been used in mass murders over the last 30 years.

Good guys have handguns and sometimes protect themselves from bad guys. Good guys use rifles for hunting and feeding their families. Children and adults are regularly involved in deadly yet avoidable accidents involving guns that good, responsible people own. In these cases, I would argue that guns — not just bad guys — do in fact kill people. Guns also make suicide much easier, although I will concede that people who want to end their lives will find a way without guns.

Here’s the deal, guns are made for one purpose — to kill. Sometimes this killing is for protection or food. Sometimes it’s not. I stand by my original Facebook post. I simply can’t comprehend the fascination with devices used to end human life. Why do so many people find guns to be so cool? Why do so many people immediately get defensive — no, downright angry — at the mere mention of changing gun laws? We live in a scary, messed-up world. Guns will never go away, but if we can’t unite as Americans and at least have a dialogue about making guns and gun ownership safer, we are going to have a much bigger problem on our hands. Progress only happens with change. I hope it’s not already too late.


4 Responses to “Guns: I Wish I Were Writing About Anything Else”

  1. Angela Says:

    I took a quick break from cleaning and read your blog. I think it is great that you take time to share your thoughts and hopefully encourage others to think as well. You raise some very good points in my opinion although I did feel the comment about God having our backs was close to the line.
    You already know our family’s position, so I won’t repeat it. I know some people feel they need guns for protection. I am very thankful that I do not feel unsafe in that way. For us it is a multi generational tradition of hunting for both the enjoyment and the wonderful food. However, I know that is not everyone’s experience.
    I saw your original FB post and the angry replies. I am not sure why people get so angry. I suppose part of the problem is that there is so much name-calling and insulting on both sides. It is a shame that we can’t carry on a more civil conversation.
    I have one sincere question which I think we as a society need to address. I am completely comfortable with reasonable checks on gun ownership. What I wonder is this… how will writing more laws stop criminal behavior? These people who commit gun crimes are already ignoring and violating countless existing laws. How do we expect that creating more laws will impact the behavior of people who clearly have no regard for the law? I am not sure that more laws restricting gun ownership will actually keep us much safer than the guns themselves although I also don’t see how they would hurt. I have not done the research, but I wonder what percentage of gun crimes in our country are committed with firearms that were purchased legally. I think we need reasonable boundaries for sure, and extending them might be a place to start. I am just not sure that will completely solve the problem. I think it is much deeper than that.
    At the risk of sounding trite I think a big part of the solution is something much harder than passing legislation. I think it is love… husbands loving wives, parents loving children, neighbors loving neighbors, teachers loving students, kids loving classmates, bosses loving employees, employees loving coworkers… I do not believe there is anything easy about choosing to show love to others, especially when there is so much ugliness and hatred running rampant. However, I believe that when someone truly feels loved he will be far less likely to become the violent criminal who completely disregards the value of others’ lives.
    Thanks for the thoughtful, honest, and civil blog. It is definitely a conversation we need to have. If you decide to run for office let me know. I would support a reasonable person like yourself!

    • Brad Scott Says:

      Thanks so much for reading, Angela. I agree about gun laws not solving the problem, but there is evidence that it can help – NY and LA are two examples. It can’t hurt anything to try.
      I also agree about showing love. That is very important to me. There is a quote by Mother Teresa that says: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” I’m a firm believer that change starts with leading by example. When people see the joy someone gains by being kind and loving others, they eventually want to feel it for themselves.
      The God bit maybe should have been left out, but there is a great deal of data showing that conservative Christians make up a significant percentage of gun owners (not just rifles for hunting – which I’m fine with) and gun control opponents, which honestly doesn’t make sense to me. Many (not all!) of these people also tend to be against helping refugees or immigrants, homosexuals, and even minorities. Basically it seems that a lot of Christians want to own guns and only desire to help or be kind to those who believe the way they do. I’m not trying to be offensive at all. I just think Jesus, who I hope Christians are modeling their lives after, would be in favor of laying down weapons, not judging, and not just helping all, but loving all – whether he could convert them or not. I sincerely hope that isn’t offense to you. Our religious beliefs differ, but I think Jesus was and is an incredible role model.
      Regardless, I love you and your family, and really appreciate your thought-provoking comment. I think we are actually very much on the same page. Thanks so much and hope to see you guys soon.

      • Angela Says:

        Finally had a chance to see your response. Thank you. I agree with your thoughts about Jesus and regret deeply my personal failure as well as that of other believers to reflect His perfect love. In the New Testament we only see Jesus showing anger toward self-righteous religious people who were making it hard for others to connect with Him. I think you and your family are a wonderful example of normal people loving their neighbors and serving their community. I’m sure that, like us, you all aren’t perfect, but that has never been a prerequisite! Love you guys too!

  2. facetfully Says:

    Doing so long-overdue catch-up tonight and appreciate the open and peaceful discussion here…or anywhere. No one needs an automatic weapon, in my opinion, and though I grew up with guns around, I am not a fan, though I do believe people have a right to defend themselves and to hunt (preferably for food). Let’s help love find a way in this world! Amen!

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