Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Enough is Enough! We Need A Solution.

What do Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Madison, AL, Omaha, NE, Walpole, NH, Newtown, CT and Sparks, NV have in common? They are all small to middle sized cities in the United States? Yes. They are places that people like to live? Yes, if they weren't people wouldn't live there. I'm sure that you could come up with several more self-identifying characteristics of each of these communities that would place them in the center of one Venn Diagram or another. But one glaring thing that each and every one of these communities has in common is they have all suffered some sort of gun violence in a school in the last five years.This is only a partial list of gun violence that the media has reported on in the last five years. (For a more complete list click this link.)

I am not a person that has been affected by gun violence, other than the sadness that I feel with the loss of life and the promise of what might have been. I should also mention that I do not own a gun and that I don't really understand the mechanics of guns (other than you pull a trigger and something comes out the other end at a really high rate of velocity). This does not mean that I am a gun hater. I have friends and family who are advocates for guns and their proper use. I think they have their uses in self-defense, hunting and sport. They (guns) are also an important part of world history. In fact our country, for the most part, never would have been born if not for guns.

The time has come to take meaningful action. What we have accomplished so far is to further divide our country on this subject. And that is not something that we can afford with all of the other distractions and problems we are having. There are so many other constructive things for us to focus our energy on. We need a solution that employs all of the parties that are effected in coming up with a solution.

Here is what I propose:

  • Government - Instead of trying to make guns illegal and regulate the object (guns), regulate the actions (gun violence). The laws that you are creating are only alienating the portion of the population that are gun advocates. The majority of people are not rallying around laws like NY SAFE, they are only serving to polarize a certain amount of the population and give them something negative to focus on. Instead implement laws that institute mandatory minimum sentences for ANY crime in which a gun is involved. For example: if a petty larceny (definition) is committed the legal penalty is one year in prison. If a gun is involved in the same petty larceny the penalty would automatically increase to ten years in prison. No matter what psychologists say negative reinforcement is effective and people can do simple math. 
  • National Rifle Association - As near as I can tell all Wayne LaPierre and his organization are doing is standing back and saying "Guns aren't the problem, people are the problem." Well Wayne, I've go news for you: people with GUNS are the problem, and by that I don't mean ALL people with guns. Only a small subset of the group is giving the whole a bad name. Instead of advocating for everyone to have the right to own a gun, because, by your statements certain people shouldn't have access to guns (people who are mentally unstable for one reason or another) help the rest of us and respect and protect the rights of the rest of us who don't want to own guns. Step up education and policing of your own member. By some estimates the NRA has at least 5 million members. That is as many people as the population of Colorado and Alabama, and more than the states of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota and Delaware COMBINED. Surely your membership can do more to protect the rights of those of us who don't want to own guns. Show us that you want to members of a community bigger than the NRA.
  • Media - This is big one, and please excuse my language for this one: STOP TELLING THE STORY OF THE FUCKING SHOOTER! Yes, it's part of the story. Yes, it is emotional and emotion draws ratings, which draws dollars. All you are really doing besides choking us all up is drawing attention to a KILLER. You are not drawing attention to a problem, you are drawing attention to a KILLER. If you have to tell the story focus on the victim. Focus on the promise that was lost. We don't need to understand why the victims were lost, just that they were. If, for some reason the killer goes on trial, don't cover the trial, that is giving attention to them. Don't say that this killer was bullied or was a recluse or got fired from his/her job, that only validates them in their mind. There is no valid reason for ANYONE to walk into a school with a gun and start extinguishing our future.
  • Public - The best I can ask for from "the rest of us" is empathy. The rest of us need to understand that there are at least two sides to every story. For some people there is a real fear surrounding guns. There is a fear of what people with guns can do and have done. Let's face it, people armed with guns kill other people every day. And conversely, there is a segment of the population that make guns a way of life. They may have been raised in a rural area where a Fall Saturday afternoon doesn't mean college football or a trip to the museum, it means going hunting with friends, family or clubs. That doesn't make them bad people, it just means that they enjoy different things than you do. Neither group is bad or good, just different, and that's what makes us individuals.
Whether anyone reads this or not is debatable. What is not debatable is that gun crimes are on the rise and all we can do in this country is argue about the right way to fix it. One of my former supervisors once told me "Don't come to me with a problem unless you have a solution. I have enough problems." Well this is my solution. It is a problem that effects or will eventually effect everyone, so everyone needs to pitch in to make it right.

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