Note: The subject matter of this blog post is outside the usual scope of this blog. (I swore I wasn’t gonna do that. Sorry.) But, as a mother who is trying to protect her daughter while helping her make sense of the world, I couldn’t let this go unsaid. If you’re here for my usual SAHM stuff, feel free to ignore this post and come back next week. But if you choose to read on, please don’t shut your eyes or your mind. Let’s keep this dialogue respectful, keep it supportive, and (most importantly) keep it going.
It’s a common argument among the political right: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Meaning: “Responsible gun owners should not have to give up their right to defend themselves and their families because a couple of nut jobs are ruining things for everyone.”
Guess what? I totally agree with you.
The Constitution affords all American citizens the right to bear arms to protect themselves from anyone who wants to harm them. And the vast majority of gun owners are rational, responsible, and ultimately peaceful people who hope they never have to use their weapons.
But a person who wants to kill someone (or kill many people) is not a responsible gun owner.
The violent, homophobic Omar Mateen who scared co-workers so much that the FBI had to investigate him? Not a responsible gun owner. The mentally unstable Adam Lanza? Not a responsible gun owner. The angry, radicalized Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik who slaughtered 14 people? Not responsible gun owners.
People kill people, and people who want to kill people shouldn’t be able to get their hands on a gun. I think we can all agree that those with terrorist connections, a history of mental instability, or violent criminal backgrounds are NOT responsible gun owners and do NOT deserve to own a gun. Gun control measures will help control this.
No, gun control will not eradicate the problem completely. If someone really wants to commit mass murder, they will. This is only the first step. (Changes to the mental health system in this country would be the second step, but that’s a different conversation altogether.)
You, the responsible gun owner, were fortunate enough to have been raised in a family that taught you how to be a good person. You are fortunate enough to have a sound mind that doesn’t struggle with the inner demons of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other mental illness. You were fortunate enough to have been born in a community that valued peace and love over violence and hate. But not everyone has been that lucky.
Unfortunately, no government on earth can turn one of the unlucky ones into a responsible gun owner at the flip of a switch. I wish we could. (The prisons would be a lot more empty.) And, because we cannot change someone’s mind for them, we have to tie their hands behind their back.
I cannot take away my daughter’s urge to chew on the dish detergent gel packs, but I can put a lock on the cabinet. I cannot convince my 14-month-old that running into the street is dangerous. But I can restrain her. No one could have convinced Omar Mateen or Adam Lanza or Tashfeen Malik or Rizwan Farook or Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris or James Holmes that shooting dozens of people was wrong. But we could have prevented them from ever being able to own a gun. We could have made it a LOT harder for them to commit these crimes.
If you, responsible gun owner, have a healthy respect for guns and believe they should be handled with care and caution, you should be the most outspoken proponents of any system that would keep unstable people away from deadly weapons. By lending your voice and your support to a plan that aims to keep guns only in the hands of responsible people, you are not only protecting your right (as a responsible citizen) to own guns as a method of defense, you are lending your protection to other people, too. People like me, who don’t want to own a gun and would be left defenseless if confronted with a crazed shooter. A good guy with a gun is equipped to stop a bad guy with a gun, but the good guy might not be around when you need him. Let’s take the gun out of the bad guys’ hands instead.
Let’s not wait until the maniacs have already killed 49 innocent people. Let’s do something now…before Orlando or San Bernardino or Sandy Hook happens somewhere else.
Stay united, Orlando.