Monday, December 17, 2012
There is something desperately wrong with our country. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I have been calling for change on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. The problem is people are so entrenched in their positions on either side of the gun control debate that they cannot have frank and honest discussions. We can't seem to honestly look at anything. All of the "conversations" I have seen go something like this, "Guns are bad, Guns are for killing." "No, it's not guns, it's people. People are bad. We have lost our moral compass because we have turned from God. In fact, we need more guns to protect us from the Godless heathens." Then both sides go round and round making the same old tired arguments and nothing changes. While we argue our children, our mothers, and our brothers die senseless deaths. The truth of the matter is both sides are very much wrong.
The truth is guns really are not the problem. There are other countries with as many guns and they do not have these types of issues. Switzerland proves that the issue is not just a gun issue. They have tons of guns and very little gun violence. As we have all heard over and over (ad nauseum), "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." There is a logic to this statement which cannot, and should not be ignored. Many, many people own guns their entire lives and never have any violent events occur. Policemen carry guns their entire careers and the majority of them never even draw their weapons in the line of duty. So, let us all concede that guns themselves, while they may be scary, are not the cause of the problems (I will get back to the issue of gun control in a moment though.)
The flipside of the "guns are not the problem" argument is, if guns are not the problem then they cannot be the solution either. I have heard several people say we need to arm our teachers to protect our children. I will admit that arming teachers would likely reduce the amount of school shootings and would very possibly reduce the severity of a shooting if one did occur. There is a reason these gunmen choose schools and theaters, and not biker bars and gun shows. My wife is a teacher and after the recent shooting she said, quite candidly, that if she were allowed, she would carry a concealed weapon at school now. Twice a year my wife is asked to go through drills, with her children, for how to deal with a shooting when, not if, but when, one of these shootings occurs. The school district has taught her to be prepared to die to save the lives of her children, and she would. My wife believes in non-violence and hates guns, but she would rather be armed than to have to face a gunman with nothing at all. I cannot blame her. This is the situation our nation finds itself in. The problem is where does it stop?
So, we arm our teachers. But, what happens next? Then the gunmen just go somewhere else and commit these heinous acts at movie theaters, hospitals, old folks homes, and anywhere else which is easy pickings. I can hear the response of the pro-gun lobby now. "Great, then we will arm everybody!" Fine, but I don't want to live in a country where everybody has to carry a weapon just to feel safe. Please ask yourselves if that is really what you want the United States to become. Are we really so far gone? Other countries do not need to carry guns for safety! Countries which do so are countries at war. I don't want my kids going to schools where teachers are armed. Our kids are stressed out enough as it is. Now you want to add guns into the mix? Is this really the best solution? I wouldn't be able to relax in a classroom where I knew the teacher was carrying a weapon which could kill me or seriously injure me. Each year some five hundred kids are killed by gun accidents. If everybody is packing, these numbers will rise dramatically. Arming everyone is no solution, it is simply giving in and accepting the evil. Guns may not be the problem, but they are not the solution either.
So, what is the problem? I have heard lots of answers, but I do not think any of them are right. The first answer I have heard is that the guns themselves are the problem. I have already said that I do not think guns are the problem. Having said this, let me now say, I actually am in favor of stricter gun control. Just because guns are not the problem does not mean we should just allow them to be purchased by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Guns are dangerous. Guns may not kill, but they sure as hell can make it easier for a mentally unstable person, or a criminal, to kill more quickly and more effectively. Yes, I understand that regulations will not completely fix the problem. Guns can be gotten illegally. I am not ignorant of this fact, but let's not use that as an excuse to make it easier for lunatics to get guns. Please people, let us all at least support making it harder for someone intent on doing harm to innocent civilians to get a gun. More gun regulations are necessary, period. Having said this, I do, once again, admit the root problem is not guns and even with stricter gun laws these events will still happen, but hopefully not as often. But, in the end I do admit, guns are not the problem.
The rest of the answers I have heard as to what is causing the violence in our country are utterly ridiculous, but I will still address them briefly. Here are a few of the things I have heard as the causes of the violence in our nation: 1) We have turned from God. I hate to break it to you, but the United States is one of the most Christian nations on the planet. European nations long ago rejected God and have way fewer Christians than the U.S. Yet, they do not have even close to the levels of violence which the United States has. So, we must look elsewhere for our answers. 2) It's because we have lost our morals and allow things like gay marriage and marijuana usage. Sorry, but other countries allow gay marriage, and the smoking of marijuana and they have not seen any rise in violent crimes. 3) We allow abortion which teaches us to devalue human life. While I agree that we Americans do not value life like we should, this is not the answer either. Other countries allow abortion as well and they have way fewer violent crimes than the U.S. 4) It is our violent TV shows, movies, music, and video games. Nope. Other countries play the same games, watch the same shows, watch the same movies, and listen to the same music.
So, I ask again, what is the problem? I think the problem is the United States itself. If you are still reading after that last statement, please do not get so offended that you stop reading now. We Americans have got to be honest with ourselves. Our country is not doing well, and it is time for us to take some honest, hard looks at ourselves. Simply saying our nation has wandered away from God is not going to fix anything and is ignorant of the realities of the rest of the world. The United States has the second worst rate of poverty for children of any industrialized nation. We have some of the worst education of any industrialized nation. We have some of the worst healthcare of any industrialized nations. We are the third most violent of industrialized nations behind Mexico and Estonia. The gulf between the rich and the working class is growing at an alarming rate. There was a time when most families could make it on a single income, but that time has passed us by. Both parents are having to work and sometimes work multiple jobs and our children are being left to raise themselves or being left with strangers. Middle class people can barely make it, and the rich just keep getting richer. The problem is not guns. The problem is socioeconomic. People are going massively into debt to go to college to get a job, and then when they get out they cannot find a job making enough to pay off their debts. We cannot even afford to make sure we can stay healthy.
The majority of people in our nation live on the edge of constant economic collapse and we are starting to buckle under the pressure. The stress of not knowing we will be okay tomorrow is wearing down our psyches, and many are snapping. Once we snap there is nowhere to turn, because we don't take care of our mentally ill any better than we take care of anything else. We must stop thinking the United States is the greatest country in the world. We may have been at one time, but we are not any longer. Other countries take better care of their children, provide better healthcare, keep their citizens safer, and provide better educations than we do. About the only things I can say we do better is let the rich hoard money, play sports, and buy guns. These are not things to be proud of. We must look at what other countries are doing and fix what is broken in our country. They have less violence than us, because their people are happier, safer, and live less in fear of tomorrow. "We have met the enemy...and he is us." We can fix our nation, but we have to stop focusing on peripherals and get to the real problems.