more collateral damage

Posted: December 15, 2012 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It is hard to write through tear stained eyes, but not impossible. What is impossible to comprehend, even fractionally, is the scope of the horror in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday. 26 people mowed down at the hand of a deranged killer, massacred like characters in a video game. 26 people, 20 of them children. Good lord. How does one wrap their head around that? 20 children. It is impossible to comprehend, incomprehensible is what it is. Utterly fucking incomprehensible.

What is also impossible to comprehend, after yet another killing facilitated by legally purchased weapons, is how anyone can separate the argument for tough gun laws from the 45 people who have been slaughtered in mass murders within the United States over the past six months alone, 45 people bleeding out in movie theaters, temples, malls and schools thanks to the itchy trigger fingers of Americans with easy access to objects specifically designed for death.

Today, the day after typical families in a typical American community horrifically had their lives forever shattered and millions more witness their anguish with decimated hearts, the rhetoric about guns and violence and responsibility and freedom and the flag and the Founding Fathers and prying my gun from my cold, dead hand is predictably ratcheted up. As we wade through the bodies and the blood and the blame, one question comes to mind, one question for the folks who forcefully argue against stricter gun control measures: Why?

Do you fear any gun control laws are the first step towards the elimination of all gun ownership rights? Do you fear that without access to all types of guns you are in a weaker position to defend yourself from those who aim to harm you or your family? Do you believe the ability for the population to be legally armed is an effective and critical tenet to ensure the government truly governs by the consent of the people? Is your argument philosophical in that you believe the United States Constitution is not to be trifled with, specifically the 2nd Amendment and its language about the necessity of a “well-regulated militia” and “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”? Are you simply a hunter who fears losing the tools of your sport? Do you profess that making legal access to guns more difficult is punishing the many at the expense of the few, that millions of gun owners in the United States are extremely responsible and, given ratio of gun ownership to gun usage in commission of acts of violence, the numbers are statistically so low that even an actuary would call them negligible? Do you subscribe to the platitude that if ordinary citizens cannot carry guns the only people who will have them are criminals? Do you claim the criminally insane will find ways to inflict their horror even without access to guns? After all, remember Timothy McVeigh?

Whatever your argument, be it any of these or others which routinely surface, this much is true. Over the next week 26 people who woke yesterday morning filled with simple thoughts of school, work, friends, pets, parents, Christmas lists, Santa Claus, gift wrapping, candle lighting, sleigh rides, warm coats, snug gloves, freshly baked cookies and the countless other things which contribute to just another day will be buried in the cold, hard earth. Not because of illness or accident or natural disaster. No, they are collateral damage, collateral damage to the belief that all guns, regardless of manufacturer intent, are critical to defend oneself against the government, criminals, strangers on the street, or whoever may pose a threat. But the reality is that a militia of well-trained computer hackers has a far better chance of bringing down the government than a militia of recreational gun owners. The reality is if those intent on doing harm catch you by surprise, as they always do, your gun is essentially useless unless it is cocked and ready to fire. The reality is all of us are strangers on the street to others passing by. And if regular people watching a movie or shopping in a mall or worshiping in a house of religion or, for chrissakes, going to a goddamn elementary school is the price which must be paid so a little more than 1% of the population (approximately 4,000,000 registered owners in the United States) can possess any gun they desire, well sorry. That is not good enough. Tomorrow someone you love could become collateral damage.

  1. kayjai says:

    Interesting that this has to be a topic of conversation…that there are no laws regarding the purchasing of a gun? You have regulations around alcohol, and getting a driver’s license but it’s a free-for-all to obtain a weapon that can kill? I am bereft of understanding regarding any of this….


  2. All that being said, as everyone who knows about it, my heart dropped when I heard about it. I cannot imagine the pain those families are going through, and I agree, they should never have put in this horrific situation. I sat with my children and we held each other. My son then turned to me and thanked me for home-schooling them. I was speechless. I just kissed his head and sat there holding my children. My prayers are with those families and friends. It is very sad that we are here discussing this, and I pray we don’t have to again. For everyone’s sake… Thank you for a thoughtful and well-written post.


  3. While I appreciate your passion for something you obviously believe in, I cannot agree in any manner. I train with my weapon to ensure I know it inside and out and it can easily become an extension of my person in less than a second. My weapon, as is allowed by the laws of my state, does stay cocked with the double safety in place, and is ready whenever I need it. My children have been made to sit down for ‘inservices’ frequently. They know the ins and out of guns, how they work and the type of destruction they cause. They have been raised to respect the potential of any weapon, loaded, unloaded, in pieces, it doesn’t matter. At this point, they have no longing to use a gun. I have no issue with this. I would never force them to. But I do require my children learn some form of self defense, whether in the form of a weapon or using their body in order to protect themselves or others in danger. Consequently, both of my children have told me they feel safer knowing I am skilled in using my weapons, both for protection and for food.

    I have grown up with guns, as my family has always relied on the meat we bring home to make it through the year. We are not angry or irresponsible people, nor are the families who share our viewpoint on the Second Amendment. As my family has, they have made absolutely sure that their children are educated and use common sense in all aspects of life, including guns. And I believe more noteworthy, all our families are believers in discipline. Our families are strong. Our relationships within our families are very strong. Our children are raised to know right from wrong, accept the outcomes of your decisions, nourish your body AND mind (strict time limits on television and video games), and know that your words and actions effect more than just you.

    If people are educated and disciplined, who has guns and who doesn’t wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. Yes, there will always be some crazy psycho who WILL find a way to harm people whether they have a gun handy or not. If someone sets their mind to hurting people, I guarantee you, they will find a way. Unfortunately, our government has bred entitlement into the people. “If I don’t like it, you can’t do it/have it/say it.” Self responsibility is a thing of the past. And it truly makes me very sad.

    Regardless of our difference in opinions, I thank you for sharing your viewpoint, as always!


    • John says:

      Clearly you and your family fall into the responsible gun ownership group, as do a vast majority of gun owners. I am not advocating the elimination of guns, but what I think many would like to see is strengthening the laws around what types of weapons can be purchased, who can purchase them, and how easily they can be purchased. Will these steps stop every incident? No. But it is a move in the right direction, the direction towards making these things less likely to happen.


  4. I’ve never been a fan of stricter gun laws. I don’t own a gun and probably never will, but out of principal, I prefer the government being less involved than more.
    This event has given me pause. I believe you make a good argument here.


    • John says:

      The way I see it the government is involved no matter what happens. They make the laws or choose not do anything beyond what is done now. Either way, they are in the thick of it.

      On a sunnier note I appreciate you taking the time to stop by, read and comment!


  5. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this. Unfortunately, a thousand massacres like this will never persuade the close-minded people.


  6. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Thank you for this post. If this tragedy isn’t severe enough for the discussion and then action to happen, then we are truly lost as a nation. Those people who refuse to see that we need to strengthen our gun laws or who claim that we need to arm our teachers should say that to the parents of the children who lost their lives. We are well past the time as a nation to address this evil scourge in our society.


  7. Very well said, John.


  8. rangewriter says:

    Thanks for expressing what I’m too numb to say.


  9. Amen to this. Stricter gun laws need to be put in place. There are psychological tests that are very accurate when it comes to identifying disturbed individuals – taking that 3 hour long test should be just the starting point of requirements for purchasing a gun. There should also be random home checks, because a law official can tell a lot from the way a person is living. There should be so many obstacles that make it difficult to purchase a gun. Maybe if we tighten it up we could prevent future atrocities. That’s not to say that people can’t plan vicious attacks in other ways, but why not eliminate certain types of guns altogether? At least it would be a step in the right direction.

    Lastly, our society needs to do a little inventory on the messages we send our youth. We need to look at issues of isolation and be responsible for the caring of those around us. No one should be falling through the cracks. And if they are, do something about it. I’m sick of all this PC stuff and being afraid to speak up. SPEAK UP, damn it. If you see something weird or feel strange about someone, then say something. Reach out.
    Okay, I’m done with my little rant. But seriously, we need to soften and find our goodness as a nation. Something is terribly off balance when these things become a weekly occurrence.


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