Well, I don’t know why I came here tonight. But I certainly got the feeling that something ain’t right. I’m scared, but not about falling out of my chair. And I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get through the next decade or two. But there is no doubt. There are clowns to the left of me, and there are certainly jokers to the right, and here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
Gun ownership has long been a coffee-table issue that politicians are always yapping about, but never really do anything about. But now, in the wake of several horrific tragedies which garnered national attention, it seems that we may finally be headed for a solution. Unfortunately, that solution seems to be a carpet-bomb tactic rather than a surgical strike to the heart of the problem.
Like most Americans, I believe that laws should be in place making it illegal for certain individuals to own firearms. Convicted felons, children under 18, and the mentally ill seems like a pretty good list. I also am not against having firearms registered. Unlike Mr. Joshua Boston, I think it is important for there to be a record of who owns what, in the same way that every vehicle must be registered. It makes sense. Both are tools capable of facilitating a crime, and thus both are registered so that should they ever be involved in a crime, law enforcement knows who to talk to. I find no infringement of the constitution here. But some people would see all guns made illegal, and not only is that unconstitutional, but it just doesn’t make sense.
First off, although it pains me to admit it, those gun owners who simply recite the second amendment every time the issue comes up have a point. Among the rights deemed important enough to be added to the constitution was the right to bear arms. And that right is not to be infringed upon. Period. There are two good reasons for this, that all of you have heard before: Personal protection, and the protection of the constitution against those who would circumvent it to assert their own power. Personal protection is a perfectly valid point. When an unarmed person hears an intruder, they call the police. Why? Because the police have guns, and can therefore defend you. So why should you rely solely on others when it could very well be a matter of life and death? Would you not want to be prepared to help yourself if no one else arrived? Secondly, the point of protection from political oppression. This is a perfectly valid point. Thinking that it is a paranoid delusion akin to wearing a tin-foil hat so that the government can’t intercept your brainwaves suffer from it-can’t-happen-to-me-itis, a common result of American-Dream-Complacency-Syndrome. However unlikely you may believe it to be, no one can say that it is impossible for a government to become tyrannical, even one with as much leniency granted to it as the US government. It is one of many possible futures, and one that Americans have a right to prepare themselves for. And don’t argue that no civilian militia can stand up against a trained military unit. They said the same thing 237 years ago, only they said it with British accents.
There are also inherent problems with a ban on guns, without even getting to those messy legal questions. For instance, a ban on guns means that nobody has guns, which is safer. Seems to make sense. Except that there is a logical fallacy there. Making guns illegal will not vaporize their very atoms on the spot. Many people will no longer own guns; these, ironically, are primarily the only people who are responsible enough to own them in first place. Criminals who use weapons illegally will not be deterred. In fact, many criminals who were using street legal semi-automatic weapons will start using burst-fire or automatic weapons once semi-auto guns are just as illegal. Why wouldn’t they? So not only will they be using fully-automatic weapons with increased frequency, they’ll be the only ones with weapons at all. Total gun bans look good on paper, but a part of human nature is acquiring the forbidden. That’s why cocaine is still a booming industry. That’s why Speakeasys erupted during prohibition. That’s why a blanket ban on guns would be a terribly ineffective solution that ignores the real problem.
So what then is the real problem? If it’s not the fact that guns exist, what is it? There are two main problems that lead to the tragedies like those of Aurora Colorado and Newtown Connecticut. The first of these is healthcare.
Ever since the closure of Willowbrook in 1987 there has been an extreme prejudice toward mental institutions, resulting in the closing of many more institutions throughout the country. The disgustingly inhumane conditions convinced the country that mental institutions were even worse than jails, and the stigma surrounding them remains. We need these places, and we need them run properly. We need places where people can go and get the help they need. Healthcare means more than just physical health, it means mental well-being as well. That being said, there’s no place in the system for some glorified philosophy student in a white coat printing his own money on a prescription pad handing out Zoloft and Prozac like Halloween candy. People with real mental disorders need medication and attention, and people who are depressed or stressed out and can't deal with it themselves need sessions with a doctor, not a take-two-and-call-me-in-the-morning approach that leads to a worsening in their condition instead of helping them get better. And the over-medication of children should be of particular concern. Which segues nicely into my other point.
Parents, as a group, need to get it together. I am not a parent, so many of you will accuse me of talking out of my aft end, but while I don’t have kids, I do have memories. Memories of a time before fear of everything. I remember a time before anti-bacterial hand soap. I remember eating dirt and riding my bike without a helmet. I remember getting an F on a project, and I remember my parents demanding an explanation from ME, and not my teacher, when the big red F made its way home. I remember a time when parents could drag their wilting carcasses off the computer, mute The Price Is Right, and set their iPhones down long enough to actually listen to their kids and, heaven forbid, maybe even teach the little tyke something about the world he lives in. But no more. Children are sanitized, prevented from ever failing at anything, prevented from ever losing until they hit the real world. Then suddenly the bubble pops. Everything seems so unfair. They’ve been a winner all their lives up to that point and now they’re just another cog in a faceless machine, nothing special, not winning at anything. Your children don’t need Adderol, or Zoloft, or Ritalin. They need a parent. You cannot be replaced by anything that has to be taken with food. So the time has come to admit it. Bring back dodgeball and failing grades and do away with dangerous drugs that no children prior to this generation has ever needed. It’s time to reel ourselves back in from the Flash and Java powered coma we’ve been living in and welcome ourselves and our children back to the real world. And maybe then, just maybe some of these odd social issues would start to take care of themselves. Or we could just ban guns. At least that way, our children will have to find new and creative ways to kill each other, like knives, and hammers, and pipe bombs. But hey, at least no one will get shot.
I am not a member of the GOP, or the NRA. The only acronym I associate with is the USA, and I will defend the rights of every member of that organization until the day I die.