Friday, December 14, 2012

The Right to Bear Arms

I have had many debates with people about the "right to bear arms" which Americans seem to prize so greatly. The majority of people I've come into contact with about this "right" have been people who enjoy target shooting--particularly in Utah's West Desert where I work during the summer months on wildfire suppression, prevention, and investigation. I have never been a huge fan of guns, I'll be honest, but I didn't really mind them so much either. My line of work during the past two summers however, has changed my apathy into discontent. And what happened today has changed that discontent into bitter sadness and anger.

I've been told that it's a good thing that in our country it is easier to buy a box of bullets and explosives than it is to vote--because it protects the government that leads us, and protects our rights as citizens. I've been told that the reason we need the right to bear arms is so we can overthrow the government if it becomes corrupt. I've been told it's important to have the right to bear arms so we can protect our own families in our own homes.

But you tell me what is so important about the right to bear arms when that right is exercised in such a way that it takes the lives of 27 people in an elementary school and devastates families all across the nation. Tell me what kind of government was being overthrown this morning in Connecticut. And more importantly, tell me why the only way Americans think we can take control of our own lives is through violence.

How much good has come from the right to bear arms? Give me one good story.

Some people might say this is only one thing. Only one person who misused their rights to commit a vicious crime. But what about all the others?

Here's a "short" list of shootings in 2012:
Black Friday 2012 Walmart Shooting
Oregon Mall Shooting
Pennsylvania Man Shot Ex-Wife During Church Service
Minneapolis Office Shooting
Fatal Jacksonville Shooting
4 Die in California Shooting
Walking Dead Fan Shoots Girlfriend
Shooting on California Indian Reservation
Shootings at House Parties in Alabama
Beaver Falls Fatal Shooting
Chardon High School Shooting
Oikos University Shooting
3 killed in shooting near Texas A&M
Overnight Shooting at Pine Creek Apartments

Are there any missing from my list? I'm sure you can name at least one that happened in Colorado somewhere that was a big deal and there are probably SO many more. :(
Why do we overlook all of these instances and still yell for our right to bear arms? Why do we overlook all the terrorism in our own towns, states, and nation and "fight" against terrorism in other nations?

Sorry to be so political. Mostly, like a lot of people in the world today, I'm just sad.


  1. We can limit guns. Would that have stopped Lanza's mom from owning the guns that Adam used to shoot the victims? No.
    We can ban guns. Is that going to get rid of them? Are people intent on hurting others going to be stopped? No.
    I think it's more important to put resources into researching and helping people with mental illness.

    1. And my question to that is, how do you determine what is mental illness?

      I don't know that I truly hope for a ban or even a limit on guns, though I find guns and their existence mighty frustrating! I definitely don't think I want to classify everyone who shoots someone else as mentally ill either, though some may be.

      Ultimately what I do want is more and better education. I think the real problem with this society that we live in is the way we think about ourselves and the way that we are taught to hide and suppress our feelings and emotions. Violent acts are results of emotions--often they are outbursts of suppressed and unexpressed emotions that can't stay trapped forever.

      Forget funding research on mental illness (which is a debatable topic to begin with) and instead put resources into teaching people to love themselves.

    2. I would agree that "mental illness" can be difficult to define, but I think it's possible to determine when someone is mentally ill enough that they need to be confined to a mental institution.

      First, there has to be either an element of specific danger--the individual has been growing increasingly violent towards others--or there has to be an element of not being able to maintain a place of residence, even with help from relatives or government. I would add that being prepared for Revolution wouldn't count towards such a thing, since Revolutionary Thought is a valid political consideration. Indeed, our government was founded on the right to Revolution! (Actually determining when Revolution is appropriate, or even effective when it is, is a completely different topic--but discussing it, or even considering it, should not be considered a sign of mental illness.)

      Second, there ought to be a major element of a person expressing weird viewpoints that are clearly disconnected from reality. If someone is becoming increasingly violent, but isn't weirdly conspiratorial, then the person is a jerk that should probably be just put in jail.

      Third, I would propose that if someone is keeping down a job, and isn't a threat to others, should be left alone, no matter how weird he may be. (For that matter, if someone is being taken care of by a friend, and otherwise isn't a threat to others, there's no reason to commit such a person, either.)

      I'm sure these elements are debatable, but I don't think they are unreasonable. If we could come up with some sort of physical test for the mental disorders, this would be very helpful as well. There's evidence that some types of schizophrenia may be the result of a disease trapped in our genes, that occasionally "slips" out; perhaps someday the antibodies of this can be used to diagnose schizophrenia.

      (Of course, if this is possible, it *may* even be possible to diagnose schizophrenia at a very early age, and we may even be able to treat it very early, perhaps even preventing schizophrenia from getting serious. If this happens, it would be a VERY good thing!)

    3. I originally shared this link on Facebook, but since you asked for "just one story", I decided to share the link here, too.

      I had also mentioned that every so often I visit the blog of the person who shared that story; her name is Tam, and her blog can be found here. Be aware that she's fiercely Libertarian--I think she may even be anarcho-capitalist, like me (or at least borderline)--but she's also very aware that there's absolutely zero chance of Libertarians winning anything.

      So, here's a link to her blog: