To my infant son (and all readers, I suppose):
Fewer than 24 hours ago, a horrendous tragedy occurred in a small, safe town in Connecticut at an elementary school. The events are terrible to imagine and difficult to report. Presumably, like a number of other people, I admit that I began searching and repeating information I found on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. No authority figures had been releasing information at that time, and I immediately regretted latching on to every speculative “news” report and re-tweet I found. Thus, I decided to wait for confirmation from the authorities on the scene and remaining quiet on the subject.
What I have noticed so far by reading comments from my Facebook friends and tweets and re-tweets from my chosen social media networks is that, predictably and unimpressively, absolutely no one has changed his or her mind about anything. Sadly, what a tragedy such as yesterday’s has only done so far is to ignite debate and infuriate people even more—during the time of year when we advertise ourselves as being a nation and world of forgiving, trusting, and loving people. Two surmises follow:
- Gun-enthusiasts will never change their minds about their rights as Americans to own guns. They essentially don’t want to be associated with criminals, but they will defend everyone’s Constitutional right to buy or obtain weapons.
- Those in favor of guns/arms restrictions will never change their minds because they cannot understand why anyone who is not in law enforcement has the need for weapons that discharge bullets at such an alarming rate.
“The guns don’t load themselves” is a comment made by people who, regardless of what the latest gun-related tragedy includes, believe guns are perfectly safe and thus gun-owners should not be ostracized for wanting to hold on to their possessions. While the logic behind such a sentiment is understandable, I see no further demand for helping the “deranged” people who perhaps are loading the guns. Are members of the NRA and all gun-enthusiasts willing to educate and assist their fellow Americans who may be suffering from a cognitive deficiency? Other defenders of guns draw illogical parallels: “If someone choked on Cheez-Its, does that mean NONE OF US should get Cheez-Its?”
There are those people whose entire professional lives are devoted to making the world a slightly more tolerable place for others whose minds do not function in the way we tend to term “normal.” I saw a sign in a veterinarian’s office that stated something to the effect that animal doctors have the toughest job because their patients can’t verbalize their deficiencies. I would argue that mental health professionals have an equally difficult challenge in trying to diagnose and assist human beings who suffer from lapses in cognitive processes.
On the other hand, those who want tougher gun laws are just as guilty of doing very little: “Somebody should bomb the NRA” (or some equally chilling sentiment) is not going to make any difference in POLICY. Violence as a response to violence is a barbaric and primitive suggestion. It’s also very easy, which is what tends to entice Americans the most.
A few comments I have read over the last eighteen hours call for more attention to the mental health agencies. There are those who believe heinous crimes like the one yesterday morning could be avoided if more time and care was put into assisting those people who may endanger themselves and/or others because of a mental incapacity. During the same time there seems to be little more than fruitless exchanges such as the following:
Person A: This wouldn’t have happened if assault rifles weren’t available.
Person B: Your so stupd.
It’s all very exhausting, and I am embarrassed that I’ve read even the little amount that I did.
I’m also troubled by something else: I follow a number of celebrities on Twitter primarily because I appreciate their professional work. I find it so interesting that other people who follow the same celebrities as I do rush to request the celebrity “stick to his day job” whenever he/she write something that is politically charged. Earlier in the summer, when famed actor Clint Eastwood (whose body of work is among my personal favorites) appeared at the Republican National Convention and ad-libbed a moment when he equated an empty chair to President Obama. No members of the GOP then asked Mr. Eastwood to stay behind the camera. However, as soon as a favorite actor or comedian has a different opinion, Americans what him/her to SHUT UP AND DON’T POUR YOUR POLITICS ON ME.
These same people love the Constitution, right? That same document that promises freedom of speech?
“Er…you can say it, just don’t say it to me!”
As much as I wish I could, I cannot know with absolute certainty what the designers of the Constitution had in mind with Amendment Two. Since I’m far from being an expert, I will refrain from too much speculation. What I do want for you is to grow up in a safe world. That safe world could be one where every one of our neighbors has loaded rifles beside their portraits of Jesus. That safe world could be one where guns and ammunition are antiquated entities like the abacus and the pager.
What I can assure you of is that your mother and I want you to be an informed, learned man who refuses to simply subscribe to whatever someone else tells him. We vow to encourage balance in perspective, even though we are two of the most sarcastic people you will ever know. I’m not sure this essay provided any answers or explanations. The fact is, you woke up crying about an hour ago, so once you were fed and back to sleep, I chose to stay awake and write this nonsense.
I’m off to sneak some Cheez-Its.