I was going to continue doing my Advent postings. But yesterday's shooting and the tweets and Google+ postings I've seen have convinced me I should say something about it. Many of the people that follow me on Twitter or Google+ probably think I'm a bleeding heart liberal who thinks all guns should be banned. You couldn't be more wrong.
The shooting yesterday affected me on many levels. (1) Again??; (2) In Oregon? Western Oregon? (3) Can't we do something about this?
So, I want to make this posting as a conversation starter. I want to hear from liberals and libertarians, progressives and conservatives. But I don't want to see any hostility. No foul language. Let's keep it nice.
Full disclosure: I don't like guns. They make nervous. They scare me. But I also believe - barring a change in our culture and/or technology - that they are needed on some level.
Okay, I'm going to start this blog by asking questions and making statements. These are only my opinions. These are things that occur to me, they are perceptions I have.
(1) What is wrong with closing the gun show loophole? Yes, it won't solve the problem. But it will stop certain people getting guns. It will close off one leakage.
(2) I believe that handguns, rifles, and shotguns should be legal. I believe that guns are a good self-defense tool. They are also needed for hunting. But these other weapons? The ones that are only used for slaughter or urban warfare? I don't think they should be accessible by the general public.
(3) Stockpiling. Why? Are there laws that track this? If there are, why aren't there bells and whistles ringing when these people stockpile guns?
(4) Mental Health. Now, I don't know if there a feasible way to make sure that people with serious mental health issues can be stopped from getting guns. I don't know about the Clackamas shooting. But James Holmes and Jared Loughner definitely had issues.
This is not just a gun control issue. If we had a better system for taking care of people when they have mental health problems, we could stop a lot of these issues before they become public safety threat.
(5) State v. Federal. I'm not up on this. But how many of these attacks are aggravated by the fact that laws and databases vary from state to state.
(6) Gun Culture. I feel and perceive that many of the pro-gun people are too emotional about guns. In a way, it reminds me of how pro-choice women feel about keeping abortion legal. They will stand up for all guns, all the time. It is frightening to hear some of them talk. People feel that they need their guns for some level of status or power. This needs to change before much of the violence to stop.
It is a sense of powerlessness that leads to these slaughters. These really bad ones are hardly ever a strictly criminal activity. The perpetrator seems to feel he is the victim and this is the only way they can make themselves heard.
In the end, I'd like to say that I'd like to see an open and honest discussion on this. It is a public health issue at this point. We need to take the National Rifle Association out of the conversation. At one point, the NRA was about public safety. They were focused on gun safety. Now, they are more about making sure the gun industry continues to make money.