Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twelve Thoughts About Common Sense and Gun Control

This isn't a post about gun control - it's a post about common sense.

1. If you have a 20 year old "disturbed" son living with you, it's not a good idea to have semi-automatic weapons lying around the house. It's a recipe for disaster in some shape, form or fashion. The thought process of having guns around when your child's school assigned a psychologist to him for his own protection is the antithesis of common sense. Far be it from me to speak ill of the dead, and I know nothing about what transpired in that household, but I know someone who needs psychiatric intervention for their own protection should not be living in a house with weapons.

2. As so often happens when someone owns a gun, they end up getting killed by their own weapon. We hear it all the time, but we never pay attention. Unfortunately, 26 other people also paid the price this time. Yeah, yeah, yeah - guns don't kill people, people kill people. We all know that. But people often kill people with guns, so stop saying that. It just makes you look foolish.

3. If people being armed really kept people from getting shot, we wouldn't have any of these situations, because we are a very armed society. But that is just fantasy. So stop saying that. It's not true and you don't look like a person who should be trusted with firearms when you can't be trusted with facts.

4. No one is trying to take your freaking guns away, so shut up about it. But we do need to figure out a way for people to exercise some basic common sense where guns are concerned. Unfortunately, that seems to need to be legislated. (Reference point number 1 if you're unsure why.)

5. We are going to have guns in the US. We can debate what that's about - tradition, long held beliefs, fear of some unknown - but it doesn't really matter. It's going to be. People are allowed to own guns. Some people like the history, the feel, the power, the whatever, of owning guns. And they don't have to justify that to you. They're allowed. So accept that as a given and lets try to have a reasonable discussion about exercising some common sense where guns are concerned.

6. Yes, people can use other things to kill people. Like cars. And bombs. And knives. But none of these things is as easy to lay your hands on or to use so indiscriminately to cause such tremendous harm in such a short amount of time as a gun is. There's a reason guns are the weapon of choice of mass murderers, drive-by shooters and your average run-of-the-mill criminal.

7. I know these things because I've been around guns most of my life, and I'm not a bad shot. In fact, I'm probably better than about 95% of the bozos I've seen on television in the last 48 hours talking about how they need to protect their guns. I know what responsible gun ownership looks like. It's not having semi-automatic weapons lying around the house in easy reach of someone who's "disturbed." It's rarely the responsible gun owners who are talking silly on the topic of guns and blathering on about the second amendment.

8. And speaking of the second amendment and the argument that's so often used - most people will never use their guns for self-defense because they will freeze up and pee themselves should the need ever arise. I hope it never does. And it's not likely to because we now live in a world where we have law enforcement as close as a phone call. The people who wrote the second amendment were far more concerned about self defense. You can ease up. You're not likely to need to defend yourself. Thank God. Because we're all in great danger if you start shooting under the pretense of defending yourself. Call the police instead. Please.

9. Instead of worrying about guns, you should be worried about the state of mental health care. Not all people with mental illness are violent - in fact it's a very tiny percentage, and no more significant of a percentage than in those not diagnosed as mentally ill. But I contend anyone who kills more than two dozen people on a rampage is mentally ill. It's something that might have been prevented if we gave any serious thought to mental health care. Yes, people have to be willing to have care. But if we had decent care available that didn't require the stupid hoops people have to jump through, people might be far more willing. I spent seven years trying to help people access mental health care and it is a maze you would not believe if you haven't ever tried to do it. We don't put the resources into mental health care we should.

10. If health care were as readily available as guns, we wouldn't be having this conversation. People could be off shooting furry animals with guns or telling those who are shooting how wrong they are, little children would be at home with their families down the hall, and I'd be writing about pretty tea sandwiches.

11. Don't be a jerk. You can keep your guns. No one is trying to take them away from you as long as you're demonstrating some basic common sense. (Again, please reference point number 1.) When you're rude and obnoxious - such as mentioning your cold, dead hands - you make all gun owners look unstable and like people who shouldn't have access to any weapons at all. So stop it.

12. Don't be a jerk. We are going to have guns in this country. When you go on and on about how we shouldn't have any guns you look like you've lost all ability to comprehend reality. You become the very person people think they might need a gun to protect themselves from. So stop it.

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