There is no doubt I’m a liberal. I do not believe my beliefs are in line with many of those the GOP claims are liberals. Really, they are moderates. I take pride in saying I am a liberal. The word liberal has a foundation in the word liberty. That is what a true liberal is about. They believe in liberty, justice, and equality for all. By justice, this means criminals are held accountable for their actions and swift justice is served with a punishment befitting the crime.
This means, for me, unlike most supposed liberals, I support the death penalty. There are some crimes so harsh…so vile, that a person reneges their right to breathe air on this planet. That is true justice for the victims of crime…the justice liberalism promises us all. I would go even further, with thoughts aiming toward the fair and just Hammurabi, as I believe some crimes by criminals unable to be rehabilitated (let’s face it, child molesters can’t be) are so bad that the “eye for an eye” mentality is the only true justice allocated. Unfortunately, we live in a time where the prisoner has more rights than their victims. We live in a time where a criminal can pray to God, Allah, Jehovah or whatever imaginary figure in the sky they claim to believe in and believe they are absolved of their crimes without having to take a single shred of responsibility for their actions.
That brings me to the raging debate on gun control. I have never owned a gun. I do not have anything against guns. I play plenty of video games that are first and third person shooters, but I have never had the desire or need to own a real gun. I do not hunt and have never lived in a neighborhood where I felt I’d be more safe if I were packing heat. I have plenty of friends who do hunt, though, and I have nothing against the practice, unless it involves the illegal hunting of endangered animals.
Someone recently asked me what I’d do if I were confronted at 3 AM by an intruder. I’d lay in bed, because I do not have the ability to get up, and chances are, I could not even aim a gun, since I sleep on my left side, usually towards the wall. I do have my phone and I’d call for assistance, but if a burglar is going to break in, I would avoid the confrontation and let the person take what they wanted and leave, just so I would not have to put myself or my family into any kind of dangerous situation. If I ended up getting shot and died, then I guess it was my time to go.
My mother-in-law was confronted by a gunman once. She was working in a convenience store. He put a gun up to her head, and her instinct was to turn away and let him take what he wanted. He did, he left, and she called the proper authorities. She believed that if it was her time then he would have shot her. Since then, she has never felt the desire to own a gun. She sees no point in it. It just perpetuates the kind of violence that she had to endure at the hand of that gunman. Yes, it was a terrifying experience, but her theory is that targeting violence with more violence is not the way, and for her, that gun signifies violence.
As unnecessary as I feel guns are, I am not saying those who like to shoot for sport need to have their guns taken away. It’s not my hobby, and I really do not get it, but that does not mean that I disagree with people doing it. However, there are supposed to be laws in place that protect us, as Americans, from nutbags who have every intent of using a gun as a weapon against humans. The argument is that a crazy person will get a gun illegally, but in these shootings, we are not seeing guns purchased illegally. We are seeing them purchased legally.
Jared Lee Loughner was kicked out of the military for excessive drug use. He was also clearly insane. He had no trouble getting a gun, despite the fact that, by law, he was not eligible to have one. First, the military never reported the fact he had been discharged nor why. That is a big problem. Second, the sporting good store where he bought the gun ignored his obvious, outward signs of psychosis. It is even worse that one Walmart recognized his insanity, when he tried to purchase ammo, and they would not sell it to him. Unfortunately, another Walmart sold him the ammo, just a few moments later, ignoring his obvious mental issues. In fact, he had magazines with over 30 rounds.
The man who shot up soldiers at Fort Hood, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, walked into a Gun Galore store and purchased a legal gun. The Joint Terrorism Task Force had been investigating Hasan due to his relationship with a radical man who was said to have ties to al Qaeda. The FBI background check done before the gun was released to Hasan showed nothing alarming, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force was also not alerted of the purchase, prior to the actual shooting.
In 2008, Steven Kazmierczak shot up the campus at Northern Illinois University. He killed six people and injured twenty-one. He had purchased four different guns legally, and passed the only check run on him by the store, a criminal background check. While in High School, Kazmierczak was treated at the Elk Grove Village Thresholds-Mary Hill House psychiatric center for mental illness. His parents were in denial about their son’s mental status, calling him unruly, rather than sick. He too was discharged from the military, because he had lied about his mental illness on his application. He ended the rampage by killing himself.
The Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, received more than one mental health diagnosis while in high school. He was in therapy, but chose to discontinue treatment. Virginia Tech’s review board found several alarming, warning signs that the massacre could be coming, but those were ignored. In 2005, just two years prior to the massacre, he was declared mentally ill, legally, and required to seek treatment. Despite this fact, Cho was able to purchase two guns, a .22-caliber Walther P22 semi-automatic handgun and a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock 19 handgun, legally. Cho killed 32 people and injured numerous others, in the bloodiest, school massacre in U.S. history. He then killed himself.
I could go on and on listing all of the shooting rampages in history. What all of these shooters have in common is that they all have significant mental health and/or drug abuse histories that SHOULD have prevented the sale of a weapon to them. These guns were not purchased illegally, and maybe they would have found a way to get the guns illegally, but they didn’t. They were able to walk into a gun store or order a gun online with little problem in receiving the weapon. The problem is that these men never should have had the chance to receive guns so easily, so legally, and perhaps if it would have been harder for them to do so, there would be many people alive, many families unaffected, and less chance of these shooters shooting up innocent people for no obvious reason.
As much as these shooters are responsible, the states are also at fault for not updating these records. Further, background and other checks are not required for the purchase of guns at a gun show. That is common knowledge. If someone wants a gun bad enough, they do not have to worry about their background. They can just go to a show and get a gun. There are problems with this. This is not an issue of striking down the Second Amendment. No one wants to do that. This is an issue of enforcing what gun laws are in place, giving states incentives to update their databases, and making sure current gun laws are strict enough to prevent the sale of legal weapons to those who cannot handle the responsibility of owning such a weapon.
These men should be held accountable for their crimes. Some took that away from the victims and their families by killing themselves. Others, like Loughner, deserve sentences so tough they never would punish them in such a way here in the U.S. At the same time, we need to hold agencies accountable. The military, the FBI, mental health facilities have failed the victims of these crimes by not making sure these mentally ill, deranged individuals were listed as not fit to own a gun. By law, not a SINGLE one of them should have had access to a gun, yet they did and we, as a nation, have had to suffer from the wrath they inflicted on our fellow man.
The laws need to tighten up to prevent legal sales of firearms to the mentally ill and deranged. Yeah, maybe these shooters could have purchases guns illegally, but how do we know this? We don’t because none of them had to do so. We do not know how easy it would have been for them to get a gun had they been denied legal purchase. They got their guns legally, and this is the first problem we need to address. This problem falls on our shoulders, as a society. It is our job to keep the other citizens in this nation (and ourselves) safe, and to do that we must find a way to prevent the sale of guns to the mentally ill, for our own protection, if nothing else.
Also, I’ve heard they could use any other weapons like knives, utensils or even crayons. I have never heard of anyone being crayoned to death. Maybe if you poked someone in the eye enough they might get brain damage, but that seems awfully tedious and unlikely. It would also take quite a long time to have the same impact as a shooting massacre. You can wear rosy-colored glasses when it comes to these attacks, but that does not discount the fact guns were chosen for a reason. They are easier to use from distances, allowing a shooter to remove himself from contact with others, and keep the shooting going for longer. Bullets are effective weapons…much moreso than a box of Crayolas. The rounds Loughner used were specifically designed for killing and he accomplished his task…mostly. He killed six. Of course, he missed his obvious target, Senator Giffords, who is recovering slowly, but surely. Still, his intent was to kill and he did.
Look. I see it like this. If you are a sane, non-criminal, American who wants to own a gun, then you have absolutely nothing to fear. Yes, stricter gun laws may mean it takes a little longer to get your firearm, but what’s a few days when you know the reasoning behind it is to make sure the crazies don’t get a weapon, too? If you are a supposedly sane, rational person then why do you need a gun right away anyway? We wait for deliveries from Amazon longer than it takes some people to get a gun. Isn’t that a bit problematic to you? It is to me. Chances are, if you need a gun right that second, you have a nefarious intent when using said weapon. The Big Boys and Girls who want it for hunting or protection can wait because it is the right thing to do.
If shooters like Loughner and Cho were getting guns illegally, then my issue would be with finding ways to prevent criminals from attaining guns illegally. This is not the case. The problem is that these men are getting their weapons legally (which is illegal for the mere fact they are not allowed to have them based on Federal Law), and therefore this is the issue that needs to be addressed. Stop making the issue about you and your rights, which aren’t even being discussed as being compromised, and start thinking about the victims who lost their lives to these monsters and their families who must live their lives every day knowing what these shooters have done…all because they bought the weapons they used to kill their victims LEGALLY.[tags]gun laws, gun control, Jared Lee Loughner, shooting, massacre, Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho, Steven Kazmierczak, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, legal gun sales, mentally ill[/tags]
You have written a very thoughtful post. I agree with your thoughts and reasoning. I wish you could get all of the members of congress to agree with you.
You have written a very well thought out argument for gun control. However, it is quite one sided for someone who started off with a seemingly broad take on gun control. Your argument is based on the assumption that those who sell guns should be able to recognize signs of mental illness in an individual from one interaction with them. Unless the person selling the gun is a licensed doctor or psychiatrist, how can you expect them to recognize signs of mental illness? Some can be very discreet and flare up only when the person is antagonized or believes themselves to be. In order to make your argument stronger, it would be better to take this assumption out of the claim and make points that do not rest on a normal everyday person being able to identify illnesses that doctors go to school for years to treat.