Saturday, January 19, 2013

On (Gulp) Guns

I have played around with the idea of writing about guns on here since the Newtown shooting, but I was hesitant.  I mean, who wants to offend what is likely a fairly high percentage of people that read your blog?

But then I got thinking about the purpose of my blog, at least in my mind.  I WANT people to have conversations.  It is my deepest desire that people will engage in meaningful discourse, and that's not going to happen if I'm not willing to get into tough subjects.

So here goes ...

I hate guns.  In fact, I hate violence of any sort.  In my dream world, nobody would ever feel the need to resort to hurting other people physically.

That being said, I recognize the need for guns to exist.  Furthermore, I agree with the right of American citizens to bear arms.  If you feel the need to own a gun to make yourself feel safer, you should have that right.

The problem that I have with the status quo is twofold ...

1.  Based on the increasingly common instances of gun violence being perpetrated by mentally unstable individuals who should never have had access to firearms, guns are clearly waaaaaaaaaaay too easy to get your hands on.

I don't understand why people that want to own guns for legitimate purposes (hunting, home protection, target shooting, whatever) would have a problem with there being oversight in terms of gun ownership.  The second amendment gives you the right to bear arms, and it doesn't put a cap on how many arms you can choose to bear, but is there any sort of compelling reason that there shouldn't be a record of this?

I see it more as public safety ... as a parent, a teacher, and a human being grateful for every breath of air I take in, I see no feasible argument against keeping track of where guns are and who owns them.  You have the right to bear arms, I have the right to live in a world where a maniac isn't going to start shooting up a movie theater with guns he should never have had access to.

2.  At Sandy Hook Elementary School, 20 children were slaughtered in a matter of a couple of minutes.  In fact, that's more measurable in terms of seconds.  When we're talking about firearms that have the capacity to cause that degree of destruction in such a short period of time ...

Well, we shouldn't be talking about it.  I do not see any compelling reason for weapons capable of destroying large numbers in seconds to be available to the general public.  I have yet to hear anybody give a compelling reason for why these types of guns should be accessible to people without good cause.

And, I'm sorry, but "Because it's my right as an American citizen" is not, in my humble opinion, good cause.

Someone explained to me that the second amendment was originally meant as a checks and balances kind of thing against the government.  In other words, the American government could not go running completely amok because the American people had the right to be prepared to do the whole militia thing under the provisions of the second amendment, and the government was completely aware of this.

With all due respect to the U.S. Constitution, it was a document drafted in the 1780s.  Many parts of the original piece would be downright offensive now; amending the Constitution is neither new nor out of line, so why people froth at the mouth when it comes to the second amendment in particular is just beyond me.

I should mention that I've been avoiding news coverage on what's going on with Congress bickering over semantics and President Obama talking about executive orders and so on because it is such a hot button issue, and one I'm not sure that anyone is fully taking the time to think through, instead doing the whole "knee jerk" thing, which scares me perhaps even more.

What are your thoughts?  

Are Minorities Discouraged from Taking Upper-Level Classes?: The Elephant in the Room

As a public school teacher for sixteen years, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Standards come and go (and despite the brou...