There is so much going on in the world these days, so much loss and destruction from forest fires to earthquakes to hurricanes and especially a pandemic. These are natural-born events. But there are also man-made destruction events such as car accidents and plane crashes, building fires, mudslides, floods, and war. And the way we live is causing the planet to warm up at an astonishing rate. These things are ignored and chalked up as caused by “God”, making it all seem acceptable.
But one man-made weapon of “mass” destruction is guns. And American attitudes about guns enable a lot of people to die who didn’t need to. Too many people who own guns point to the 2nd Amendment of the American Constitution as proof that they have the right to own as many guns as they wish and to use them however they want.
Mass shootings are a relatively recent occurrence worldwide but worse in the United States.
One of the earliest mass shootings happened in 1920 when a racist white mob attacked more than 30 citizens of Ocoee, Florida. Their crime? Being black and wanting to vote in the presidential election. The white townspeople ran the rest of the black citizens out of town, and their businesses burned down. Ocoee became a white town and remained that way for 60 years. Attitudes of racism haven’t changed much since. The following year a similar event happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in what came to be known as the Tulsa Race Massacre, with hundreds of black people e killed using guns and fire and assisted by the National Guard.
I remember hearing about the Tower Shooting at the University of Texas in 1966 and then the Kent State Shootings in 1970, which haunted me for years because those students were the same age I was. But the one that stunned me the most and made me wonder what direction we were going in was the Columbine massacre in 1999. I was working at a middle school when that happened. My office was next to the office of the vice-principal who had a TV. I heard the vice-principal cry out, “oh, my god”, and went to investigate. There I saw the report of the shootings. These were students… just kids, children. My children were the same age. These children hoped to “honor” the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995 and to have their names go down in history. The year of the Oklahoma bombing, I was working at an elementary school, and we heard about it on the radio. What was going on in our world?
Between 1966 and 1999, there were 69 major mass shootings, many were race-related, and most of the shooters were young white men. Nearly 400 people died in 33 years. Just this year, there have been over 430 people killed in mass shootings in this country. There have been so many others, such as DC Sniper, the Capitol Hill Massacre in Seattle, which happened close to where I lived at one time. The killing of the five Amish girls in a schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, The Virginia Tech shooting where 33 people died. Twenty-seven people were shot at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where my husband attended graduate school. The Safeway shooting in Tucson killed a little girl and injured Gabby Giffords. The Racer Cafe shooting in 2012 in Seattle, also in 2012. The shooting at the theater in Aurora, Colorado. That shooting had people screaming that we needed good guys with guns, and that attitude prompted me to write about why that’s not the good idea they think it is. I’ll attach that at the end. But it also prompted people to say enough is enough. But it wasn’t enough. There was Sandy Hook in that same year where 20 tiny children were killed. The Pulse Nightclub shooting where 50 people were killed in Orlando. An astounding 472 people were shot at a Las Vegas music festival, killing 60. Hundreds of others were injured trying to flee. And then there was Parkland in 2018. We thought surely that after this shooting, people would say enough. The high school students organized in such a way that most adults haven’t been able to do. I was sure that would be enough. Wouldn’t it? But it wasn’t. In the three years since Parkland, there have been 52 other mass murders in the United States. Gun rights activists just don’t get it. They don’t see how having easy access to guns, having a sense of entitlement to the right to own a firearm, based on their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, and a high level of anger for anything, ranging from personal relationships to grudges to racist hatred to just wanting to flaunt the power they think they have while using a gun. This doesn’t even count accidental shooters or suicides using a gun.
All of the perpetrators have been arrested and are now in prison, or they committed suicide. But that doesn’t help the families who had to bury loved ones.
And it doesn’t look like things will change much in the future. Some states, like Texas, allow open carry of guns. House Bill 1927, the new law in Texas, allows people to carry a handgun in public without a permit. It’s called “permitless carry,” Pro-gun groups call it “Constitutional Carry.”
When the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, the guns of that period were just single-shot muskets, flintlock pistols, and long rifles for a few lucky soldiers. These were the guns used during the Revolutionary War. By the Civil War in 1862, they were still using muskets, pistols, and rifles. Nowhere in that midst did they have AK-47 assault rifles. These guns have one purpose: to kill. Proponents like to insist that AK-47’s are used for hunting, but I doubt that people are killing masses of deer or elk at one time.
The Second Amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
A well-regulated militia. Not some military-wanna-be (who doesn’t have the courage to join the military) strolling through Walmart trying to “impress” everyone.
“The “Right to bear arms” was meant to protect an individual person. It was meant to protect personal property. The right to keep and bear arms was meant for personal defense, not the mass killings of innocent men, women and children. “
Owning and carrying guns was allowed as long as it wasn’t done with the intent to terrorize others. A lot of people who choose to walk around with a rifle or AK-47 missed that part. They love to initiate fear by bearing arms, which is a form of terrorizing. Too many take it a step further by actually shooting people and taking pleasure in the process.
It’s not bad enough that we have thousands of people dying a virus that could be controlled if they just wear the damn mask and get vaccinated.
We have people dying from fires, floods, hurricanes and tornados, earthquakes, car accidents, and drownings, but that’s not enough, apparently.
These predominantly white, mostly young, almost always angry, and often racist men have to show how tough they are by shooting others. Now it seems that Christians are expected to be gun owners too. Not sure where in the bible that is said, but they feel it’s their “god-given right.”
This article echoes what I wrote in my piece below:
I feel that gun owners should be required to take classes in proper gun use and shooting instruction and learn about the 2nd Amendment and its history. And have to get a license (not just a permit) and register their gun. If they are responsible gun owners, they won’t object to these requirements.
These gun-toting, Trump-voting, Christian-proclaiming Republicans insist they have other rights, too… the right not to wear a mask (my body my choice), yet condemn women who say the same thing about abortion. They have the right not to get vaccines of any kind, and it doesn’t matter if they received most of them as children; they wish to deny the same for their own children. The reason I see the most for not having any vaccinations is that it causes Autism, which isn’t life-threatening, while measles, chickenpox, and Covid 19 easily could be.
They forget we have rights as well. Especially the right to stay alive and not get Covid 19 due to their selfishness… and the right not to get shot.
These people are selfish, pure and simple. It doesn’t matter if it’s about guns, masks, and vaccines; they don’t care about anyone other than themselves. They say they are looking for their family, but women in this group see their children as their property, and men see their wives as their property. And they hate anyone who is not exactly like them… white, Christian, straight, uneducated, and narrowminded.
Were they always like this? I don’t know. I had friends and have family members who believe this way, and most of them fit the description of racist, misogynistic, bible-believing (but not reading it) narcissists. It’s sad that I never saw it before. Maybe they hid it well. Perhaps I didn’t know what to look for it. But once Trump was elected, they came “out,” and many friendships ended, and families were torn apart.
In a sense, Trump did create a civil war, encouraged hatred, and encouraged more gun use.
It will take years to heal the wounds and stop the gun violence. I hope it’s not too late.
I wrote this after the mass shooting at the theater of Aurora, Colorado:
I am not a gun owner, and I have no desire to be one. I also have no desire to restrict legal gun owners from having one of their own. But I wonder how many who do have thought about these things?
Okay, I’ve been thinking about this all night, and let me share my thoughts about this.
While it’s admirable that people would want to protect their families in this kind of situation, but what is the likelihood that you could or would… and let me tell you why I wonder this.
People who have never been in this situation forget some tangible and intangible things about fear… the five senses.
First is sight. You are in a dark theater, maybe with your family on each side of you. You have a bright picture on a large screen in front. If someone with an assault rifle comes in from the back and starts shooting, the bright flashes from the shots are most likely going to disorient you about where he actually is. Also, your first thoughts will be for your children; second thoughts will be for where the shooter is.
Now sound: The level of the sound volume of the movie is very loud and will muffle the gunshots’ sound. Even when this happens in another venue… school, mall, whatever, it takes most people a few minutes to realize what is happening because they are not used to hearing this kind of sound.
Touch… most likely, if you are in a movie, you are eating popcorn and drinking a soda. Your hands will slick from that… add in the fear and adrenaline factors, and your hands are going to be cold and clammy, and your reaction time slowed down because of it, if and when you can get your gun in your hand.
Taste. Fear tends to cause your stomach to churn, which causes bile to move up from your stomach into your mouth and taste buds, making you queasy, which will slow your reaction time and reflexes even further.
Smell.. this is the one that no one thinks about. Fear often causes people to lose control of the muscles of their bladder and bowels, which causes people to literally piss or shit in their pants. Say 10% of the audience does that; the stench in the theater will be overwhelming very quickly. This will cause more fear and the desire to get out of there fast, which gets most people killed the quickest.. from standing up and running.
Now suppose at least two other people have the same idea you have.. they have a gun, they want to protect their families too if they are even thinking clearly at that point. One is behind you, and one is in front of you. You all now react, without thinking and stand up, the one guy behind you slightly before you do. Focusing on the shooter, you don’t focus on the other man, and you shoot, shooting him in the back, while your children watch. What makes you think the three of you can get off one shot at a time against someone who can get off multiple shots in seconds, especially when you can’t see him in the dark and are being blinded by the flash of his multiple shots?
Unless you are trained as a sharpshooter, it would be dumb luck at best.
Now say the guy in front of you tries to get a shot off but is hit by several shots from the original shooter just as the guy in front of you pulls his trigger. Now he has lost control of his aim and gun, and it’s pointed down at your child huddling on the floor as the bullet leaves the chamber.
You’ve not saved anyone; in fact, you helped to kill two people right there, including your own child.
Guns do not magically protect anyone.
Having one will not protect you, especially if the original shooter has a much bigger and more powerful weapon. Also, remember.. as a sane, rational person, you are not starting your day thinking about killing someone. The shooter is and has probably been thinking of nothing else for days. He knows what he is going to do and how you are probably going to react. He goes in with those expectations in mind.
If you do own a gun, how much training have you had with it? How often do you go to the gun range to practice? I’m pretty sure no matter how much you do, it’s still not anywhere what the original shooter has done. Why? Because you have other things to think about and to do. He has a sole purpose: to kill as many people as quickly as he can. Your single-shot pistol can only do so much and from just a certain distance. His automatic weapon can do a whole lot more. Even if you walked around with a similar gun, would you be able to react fast enough to make a difference?
Please consider all of this before you buy a gun and think it’s the answer to all of your problems. This is true life, reality, and it’s not like in the movies. You could end up creating more problems than you solve.