I've been involved in lots of facebook threads, twitter @replies and bar stool discussions about guns and gun control in the wake of the terrible acts that took place in Aurora, Colorado last Friday morning. The victims, their families and all who were in that theater that night are in my prayers and I truly hope that they can be whole again as they recover from this. No one should have to go through what they did.
I'm getting a bit weary of engaging in any more, so I thought I would capture what I've learned here…mainly so I don't forget. My weariness is not because the discussions where difficult – its just that there were so many of them going on at once. The discussions were actually quite enlightening (I avoided any shouting matches).
In case you are a first time reader here (highly doubtful given my recent Google Analytics report, but possible I suppose), a bit about me and guns. I am a gun owner. I am a concealed carry holder and practitioner. I am a lifetime member of the NRA and a member of the 2nd amendment foundation. If that turns you off, feel free to leave. For anyone with an open mind that's left, read on.
The first thing I have concluded about the shootings in Colorado is that we as a nation are more disconnected from each other than ever before. I could blame all sorts of things, but the reality is that it was possible for a seemingly bright graduate student to descend into seeming madness without anyone noticing or if they did notice, without doing anything to intervene. How does that happen?
From this I have concluded that the the most important thing we can do to prevent future mass killings is to start to give a shit about each other again. Really giving a shit. Asking people how they are doing and having it be more than small talk. Stop considering posting on their wall on their birthday to be a sign that you care. Give a small considerate gift at Christmas, not some thoughtless gift card. Take someone out for coffee and leave your smart phone at home. If we don't start caring about each other more and getting more connected, then we all better start wearing body armor and carrying a full battle load everywhere we go because its only going to get worse out there.
The next thing that I have concluded is that I am not as fully prepared as I thought I was. I carry a pistol, spare ammunition, a flashlight (that would have been a necessity for anyone who ignored the no carry signs in the Cinemark if they wanted to even have a chance to stop the shooter) and a knife everywhere I can. I'll never know what it was really like to be in cinema #9 that night, but even trying to imagine, I'm not sure I could have made that shot. Figuring out what was happening, making sure whoever I was with and was around me was safe, seeking cover, identifying the target, making sure I had a clear shot, lining up my sights, press. It's a lot that has to go right. I'll never be 100% sure, but I can go from 30% to 40% and then to 50% sure that I could do something if the need (God forbid) ever arises.
The last thing I have concluded is that me and some of my friends (of the real and Facebook / Twitter variety) have very different views of personal responsibility. I have a lot of reasons to be opposed to new gun laws. They won't work (is there any less Marijuana available today than there was before it was made illegal?), they will only effect those that already follow the law and people can use lots of things besides guns to kill a bunch of people (witness the OKC bombing) to name just a few. But the main one is that I think laws are a "cop out" (pardon the pun).
Passing gun laws shifts responsibility from each individual to provide for their own safety to the government. "If we just pass a law, we'll be safe" is a pretty dangerous way to think IMHO. To be a bit absurd for a moment, if they passed a law against falling off buildings, would you be more likely to start a career as a window washer? Of course not – because we know that gravity will always find a way to work. We have to recognize that evil is the same thing as gravity – its a force of nature. This is a hard thing to admit, but just because its hard, doesn't mean its not true. By passing more gun laws we will be less safe because a certain percentage of the population will consider the problem solved and let their guard down even more. Another percentage of the population will follow the new laws and will be rendered defenseless as a result. Some will continue to have guns and carry anyway – for all the right reasons – and will suffer the consequences if they are "caught". What won't change? The ability for evil to do its work.
If we focus on the means (guns, chemicals, machetes, rocks) rather than the cause (evil manifested in the actions of a person who no one cared enough about to help) we'll never truly solve this problem.
So out of all this what I am going to do? Get some more training. Push myself at the range. Sign up for the Krav Maga class that just started in my area. Move from 30% to 40% and hopefully on to 50% ready to deal with what hopefully never comes my way. Most importantly, I am going to make sure the people around me know I care. Really care. No bullshit.
As for you, if you think this all makes perfect sense then I suggest you do the same.
If are thinking I am a little bit extreme, then at least consider getting your CCDW and a weapon so you can "take it with you if you think you need it" (honestly a terrible idea, but better than nothing).
If you are thinking I am a lot extreme, then at least don't interfere with my ability to take care of myself. If you would prefer to pass the buck to the police (who can't be everywhere), let that be your decision and don't force it on me.
Lastly, if you think I am completely around the bend, at least make sure you show everyone around you that you truly care about them. The life you save might be your own.