The day of the shooting spree in Newtown, Connecticut, I defriended a few people from my Facebook profile. They were all people I’ve known since grade school but never speak to in real life, and while their occasional hunting photos or statuses implying conservative leanings made me feel a little bit icky in the past, I’d always been able to ignore the fleeting moment of “dude, come on” and scroll on past without altering our digital relationship. But then Adam Lanza marched into an elementary school and shot a bunch of people, and a lot of those people were children, and asshole reporters shoved microphones into other kids’ faces and when my former Facebook “friends” immediately commented about how this shouldn’t affect their constitutional right to bear arms, I snapped.
First I posted a status about how I can always count on a national tragedy to bring out the “GUV’MENT DON’T TAKE MY GUNS” lunatics, and then I allowed five minutes for those lunatics to see that I’d posted something. Then I defriended them, because, as I mentioned later that day, it’s a sick, stupid, and sad thing when someone reacts to children being gunned down with a declaration of their limited understanding of the 2nd Amendment.
Gun control isn’t the only issue begging debate after Newtown; the accessibility of mental health care is a huge issue, because it’s difficult to maintain that Adam Lanza – or James Holmes, or Seung Hui-Cho, or anyone else who marches into a school or public place with the interest of killing a shitload of people, including themselves – was a mentally stable person. He wasn’t. But the fact remains that Adam had access to and knew how to use semi-automatic weapons, and as Stephanie pointed out, “Handguns for ‘Merica, fine. But semi-automatic? Why? Also, regarding that “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” article: the author doesn’t have an arsenal of high-speed weapons in her home, let alone teach her mentally-ill son how to use them. Adam Lanza’s mother did.”
This isn’t to say that no Americans should own guns at all. While I didn’t grow up with a gun in the house, we lived in a crap neighborhood and plenty of our neighbors had them, so I’m well aware of the catch 22 of wanting that protection when you live in a violent society, while at the same time contributing to that violence by having that protection. I’m also aware that some people have guns for totally other reasons; Graham grew up in the country where guns are just normal. People use them to hunt and take to the range, and with the proper education and mental health, an unloaded gun is as benign an object as a coatrack.
This is to say that all Americans should be limited to how many guns and what kinds of guns they can own, and that gun ownership should be as heavily licensed and taxed as car ownership, because as any gun advocate loves to tell you, cars are deadly weapons, too. Speaking of gun advocates, any one who can acknowledge America’s gun violence statistics and Constitutional context and still give me a rational explanation of why semi-automatics are necessary – not wanted, not collectible, not erection-aiding, but necessary – to the protection of Americans, then I will gladly reconsider my views. No one’s been able to do it yet.
In addition, no one’s been able to correctly argue that people are the problem instead of the guns, and maybe we should make our society better before we take away everyone’s firearms. I mean, what? It’s as if the unhinged person + gun = death equation has never occurred to them. A violent person will commit violence no matter what, but the faster and deadlier the weapon they’re given, the more people are going to be hurt. If a government severely restricts or outlaws the ownership of the fastest, deadliest weapons, the number of people hurt plummets.
These are proven, indisputable facts and still, organizations like the NRA – despite it’s professed intentions and educational programs – are dominated by the kinds of people who don’t like proven, indisputable facts because those contradict what they want. Not what is true. Not what can save lives. Not what can prevent a mentally ill person from slaughtering children in their classrooms.
Once this country stops confusing an antiquated allowance as a civil right, once it understands how sick and shameful it is that people just keep being shot to death but we’re too fond of our hard-ons to do anything about it, then possibly we can take some real steps towards living in a society where people aren’t afraid to let their kids out of the house, and I won’t have to defriend people at such alarming rates anymore.