Sunday, December 16, 2012

If we own it, we can change it.


The word “normal” is such a subjective word. It holds a cloud of meaning for individuals, subcultures and cultures. Yet within the meanings, it speaks volumes as to what it is not.  For every normal, there is often an assumed abnormal.

It is normal to be a baby-boomer in this day and age, at least in all cultures that fought in World War II. It is normal for old people to die. It is normal to be heterosexual. It is normal to be male and white. It is normal to be middle-class. There is a normal range for intelligence.  It is normal for children to be rosy-cheeked and full of love and laughter. It is normal that people be allowed to purchase guns for their own use. All of these normal are, of course, determined by those within the categories but can be often defined by some statistic.
It goes without saying (but I will) that there are many status quos that need to change…dramatically. Some of these are in the process of happening – just as we see with gay marriage. What once was abnormal is being now more accepted with each voting cycle.

Yet there are some norms that are way past being acceptable.

I hear and read people ranting about their constitutional rights of being able to “bear arms”. If a person doesn’t think it is ok for a Palestinian family to have weapons in their own homes to protect themselves when the Israeli tanks come rumbling down their streets to crush their houses, how is it right for United States citizens to own automatic and semi-automatic weapons of war when we are at peace? Isn’t that what the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights was all about? Protecting one’s self and family within one’s own home?

As I understand it, the original amendment gave the people the right to protect themselves against the government. Of course, opinions are subject to speculation as there appears to be no legal consensus on the original meaning of the Second Amendment. Regardless, I do not think that it should mean that a person has a right to buy semi-automatic or automatic weapons for any reason. Consider the fact that in 1791 flintlock and black powder were the norm.

I have no qualms about people owning weapons to hunt. However, it seems rather cowardly to me that a deer hunter or even an elephant hunter would need a high powered weapon, long-range, semi, or automatic weapon to kill an animal but hey, there are a lot of cowards running around this world. If hunting is a sport, what sport is there in killing an animal from a very long range or with rapid-fire shots?

Whatever.

I don’t care what arguments people use to own weapons…and do NOT tell me that a knife is just as much of a weapon as a gun.

What I care about are the people who have died in the senseless killings. I care about the boys and men who have deemed life so hopeless and helpless that they turn to violent acts that change lives forever. What I care about is a society that cares more for their damned guns than they do about innocent people going about their NORMAL lives. I care about the mommas and the daddies, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, godparents…all who now only have memories of the faces of their loved ones.

Our society gets off on acts of violence. It is an adrenaline rush, I think.It has to be, otherwise, why wouldn't we change it? People respond with OMG for the event and hate for the offender, with love and outpourings of compassion and support for the families of the victims for a given time. I would think it quite normal to think “thank God it didn’t happen to me”. It is fairly easy after the press dies down to return to normal lives that have nothing to do with twenty-six people, 12 girls, 8 boys, and six adult women killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, CT.

It seems especially heinous that this violence was inflicted upon children. How it is worse to lose a 6 or 10 year old than it is to lose an 18 or 21 year old to violence, I am not sure. But from the reactions of the press, it is a conclusion that I have assumed. I suppose one might ask the parents of those young people who died in Iraq as a result of our military being there…4800 between 2003 – 2011. Or the families of those killed in Afghanistan…2000 and still dying. But I digress. War is normal. Death in War is normal. Forget the fact that it is an opinion as to whether we have a right to be killing people or being killed in a foreign country…

I suppose we could call this a gender based act of violence since it seems a part of the norm for an elementary school to be populated by more women than by men. One could assume when one heads into an elementary school that the majority of people within the school will either be women or children…because that is a statistic.

 Or perhaps the young man killer was a victim himself? Abused? Neglected? Perhaps his mother loved the little children of the school more than him? Maybe he went off his meds. And then, there is the question as to why the mother would have purchased these weapons if she knew her son was mentally ill.

Regardless of the unanswered questions, had the young man walked into the school with three knives or a sword or a bat or merely his hands, it is highly doubtful that he could have come in close enough contact with the victims to kill twenty-six people in such a short time irrespective of their ages. It is just not logically possible. So, stuff the arguments that guns don’t kill people…people kill people.

Whether that inane statement is true or not, people cannot logically kill as many people without guns/rifles as they can with them. People cannot kill as many people with single shot weapons as they can with rapid fire weapons. Truth.

With the grief that continues to rule over me in the death of my mom, my heart cannot even begin to comprehend the exacting toll the grief will take on the families of these little ones or of the women who died with them. My mom was older (not yet old) and had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. We knew she was going to die sooner rather than later. To have had five months when we had been told two months was a gift. Still, there is a deep and abiding anger with the loss…an anger against all the things in our lives which create illnesses like cancer. But these deaths were abnormally violent, an intrusion into the very essence of a normal day, caused by what we can only assume was a hate-filled rage hell bent on consuming everything in its path. What future tragedies have been set in place by this one particular event?

Yet, the killer was not the evil one. He was as much of a victim by way of his own demons. The evil comes from a society that would rather protect the normalcy of the individual rights of the killer’s dead mother to be a “gun enthusiast” who bought killing weapons than it has to protect the lives of innocent victims – whether mentally ill geniuses or normal children and teachers. That is EVIL.

And pardon me, please, as I once again digress…what the heck does it mean to be a gun enthusiast? What part of a weapon that kills is one enthusiastic about? If it were an antique…maybe…but seriously…

Own this, all of those who want to claim the right to buy and own a semi-automatic weapon or automatic weapon. Own this all who have allowed the gun Lobbyists to ride shotgun over the Congress of this land. Claim this tragedy as one brought on by personal actions of the silent and the noisy ones. Claim this tragedy, all who have allowed this gun control conversation to die.

Keep your damned rifles and shotguns for hunting. Keep your crossbows and such. Just get rid of the handguns, rapid fire weapons and the sniper rifles. None of these is for anything but killing people. And we already have enough weapons of mass destruction to do that job.

The cause of these deaths belongs to each one of us. When we own it, we can change it.

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