In the wake of yet another senseless slaughter, I’ve seen many of my friends argue that something should be done and they offer up their opinions as to what the solution should be. They argue for more guns or fewer guns. They argue for more god. They argue for more mental health care. They argue against “politicizing” the event by arguing for or against guns, god or mental health care.
What everyone is trying to do is come to grips with something that makes no sense. Who would kill twenty children deliberately? How could anyone do that? We don’t understand and we want to find something that will create a just universe where these things will never happen again.
Do I support reasonable restrictions on gun ownership? Yes I do. I want to be clear that I don’t believe that people should not be permitted to own guns. I do believe that some restrictions on dangerous weapons may help reduce the amount of damage a crazy person with a gun can do.
Do I think that such restrictions would have limited this most recent slaughter? No I don’t. The gunman used guns that belonged to his mother that were legally acquired. The laws that we’d like to see enacted would not have prevented his mother from owning those guns and therefore he would still have had access to them.
Do I think arming teachers is the solution? No. The perpetrator’s mother had a shit ton of guns and she’s just as dead as those children. Adding more guns to the situation does not guarantee a different outcome. The gunman was fast and determined and had the element of surprise. I don’t think any elementary school teacher would carry a gun on their person so unless they could get to it before someone started shooting up their classroom, the body could would not be all that different.
Do I think that it would all have been better if we could pray in schools? No. Because you can pray in schools. You just can’t have school sponsored prayer. God is all over the place in schools and anyone who says differently has a pretty dim view of someone whom they believe to be omnipotent.
Do I think that better mental health care would have made the difference? No. Not in this case. I think that the descriptions I’ve read of the home environment this young man was raised in suggest that he wasn’t going to get the best mental health care and while better mental health care is tremendously important, it is not the one issue that would have resulted in a different outcome. I also think that I, like most of the rest of America, have no idea what was going on in that young man’s head and we never will.
Do I think talking about these things is “politicizing” an event? Only if you don’t like what people are saying. People who are for stronger gun control legislation view this as a perfect example of why they are for that legislation. It makes perfect sense that they would bring it up. They aren’t doing it to be disrespectful to the victims. In fact, they are doing it because they are shocked and appalled and want to figure out something that will create a world where no first grader will ever be shot to death again. We call it “politicizing” when we don’t like the opinion of the person doing the talking.
The people who think we should arm every teacher? They aren’t politicizing it either. They want the same thing the gun control advocates want. They just think their solution is better. I don’t happen to agree with them but I don’t think they are “politicizing” the situation by speaking their mind.
People who are arguing for better mental health care? Their motivations are the same.
Folks who say that god wasn’t in that school because he’s “not allowed?” Well, I admit that I think they are dicks. At my most generous, though, I recognize that they, too, are trying to make sense of something that is senseless. They are simply doing it in a way that is reprehensible and cruel.
We all want to come up with a solution. We all want to live in a world where first graders don’t get shot to death.
Reality hurts. The world is not fair. We don’t like it but here’s the truth – we live in a world where first graders get shot to death. I wish I knew how to change that. I don’t want to live in a world where such horrible things are possible.
But they are. And they will be possible whether we have more gun control or more guns or more mental health care. We can’t create a world where this will never happen again.
But what we are doing in the wake of something so shockingly horrible is trying to figure out a way that it can happen less.
I don’t know about you but I think that is something we should be talking about. We can disagree. Loudly if we want.
But we should be talking about solutions. And we should be listening to the other side. I’m an advocate of reasonable gun control. That doesn’t mean I think my friends who possess guns should be forced to get rid of them. It means I think that it should be more difficult to put a gun into the wrong hands? Do I know how to do that?
No. I wish I did.
But I also wish that gun advocates wouldn’t dismiss my point of view with the flip answer of “guns don’t kill people: people kill people.” Yeah. I get that.
But guns do it better. Faster. Easier.
Can’t we both be a little bit right? Isn’t there a way for all of us to stop being so entrenched in our position that we forget what this conversation is all about?
Because what it is all about is the simple fact that we don’t want to see another first grader get shot to death. I think that is something on which we can all agree. How about we all start with that?
My name is Tim. I don’t want to see another first grader get shot to death.