Guns, Conscripted Religion, Mental Health and Other Horrors

Like everyone else I have been heartbroken by the senseless murder of children and those who teach and nurture (and protect) them.  That goes without saying.  What needs to be said is a few things about the way people are, not unexpectedly, using this tragedy as a springboard to rattle on about whatever social or political issue they feel strongly about.  Can’t we just be sad for a little while?

First, a word about politics.

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I am so completely uninterested in politics that it defies description.  Other than Wake Forest basketball, there’s literally nothing that bores me more.  Mostly because politics is a game, played by plutocrats for the benefit of other plutocrats and nobody really cares what the rest of us think.  Again, sort of like Wake Forest basketball.  I am also uninterested in labels, though if I were awarded a political one, it would be decidedly left of most of the people I know in the real world.  They lean (or in some cases tumble wildly) to the right, while I lean, in many respects, the other way.

But I may be about to jeopardize my membership in the liberal knee jerk reaction club.

Because IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS JUST MAGICALLY TAKING OUR GUNS AWAY.

And because NOT EVERYONE WHO OWNS AND WANTS TO KEEP A GUN IS AN NRA NUTCASE.

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But maybe it’s OK because IT’S ALSO NOT AS SIMPLE AS PUTTING THE GOD YOU HAPPEN TO PRAY TO AND THE RELIGIOUS RITUALS YOU OBSERVE “BACK IN SCHOOLS,” and stuffing them down everyone’s throat.  You know what: anyone can pray any time they want, anywhere they want.  I pray all the time (to what or whom is a mysterious and complex topic for another day, maybe).  But I rarely feel compelled to pray out loud in public and I would never, ever force others to pray with me.

Now about this mental health business.  The sympathy I feel for a mentally ill person is an atom in a universe of universes when compared to the sadness and rage I would feel if children were harmed by said person.  Let me be blunt.  If I start to lose my mind and there is even a slight chance I am going to hurt some babies, then whoever is responsible for me should lock me up and throw away the key.  Err on the side of the babies.  Sure, we need better mental health services in this country.  But we need to keep people from killing children more.  A lot more.

What we don’t need is more people shouting solutions from one impractical end of the spectrum to others at the other impractical end of the spectrum.

Taking guns away might be great in theory.  Sort of like taking alcohol away.  Or nuclear bombs.  Or Keisha.  But it doesn’t work in practice because some Nucky Thompson or another will fill the demand.  Only thing is that only the people who live around the edges of the law will know how to get the illegal goods.  Think about it this way.  Marijuana is illegal most places.  While that may keep some yuppie kids from lighting up, it doesn’t do much to keep committed smokers from finding weed whenever they need it.  It also creates a shady industry of suppliers and dealers who get rich off of inflated prices.

There is no doubt that making all the guns disappear would reduce violence.  Zero doubt.  There is serious doubt, however, about whether you could- in the real world (e.g., outside of Facebook)- actually make enough of the right kind of guns disappear to make a difference.  And whether doing so can be reconciled with the rights of legitimate gun owners who have legitimate reasons to legally own a gun.  In other words, it’s complicated.  There is a balance to be considered.  A middle ground.

No one ever wants to talk about the middle.

I have guns (and a CHL for crying out loud).  I absolutely do not want anyone to take them away.  On the other hand, I don’t have, don’t want and don’t need a machine gun.  I think Ted Nugent is an idiot and I think the NRA is the lunatic fringe.  Ban automatic weapons.  I could care less.  That might stop some killing.  But most killing isn’t done with machine guns.  It’s done with handguns, shotguns, bombs, cars, pit bulls and whatnot.

And about this God thing.  I completely believe in God.  Yet I cringe almost every time people who purport to speak for religion open their mouth or touch their keyboard.  Because too many times people are using religion to go on some digital crusade against someone God would tell you to love and be compassionate towards.  Stated simply, lots of people all over the place are wrongfully using religion as a means to launder hate.

So let’s recap.

One, you can’t have my guns.

Two, stuffing your version of God down people’s throats will make things worse, not better.

Three, help those who have mental issues, but first and foremost help others to not get killed by them.

Four, people need to stop giving the lunatic fringe all the attention and rediscover the silent middle.

Finally, it’s OK to be sad without immediately attacking someone who doesn’t share your beliefs.