I am writing this because I am trying to understand – this a request for help if you will. Help me understand. No, not how any human being could bring themselves to do what they did last Friday at Sandy Hook. But rather help me understand how the gun control that many of my friends are asking for will actually help solve anything. Hear me out.
Let's start with the things that I think everyone can agree on (and yes, by everyone I mean specifically me and you):
- We should all do everything we can to make sure that things like this never happen again.
- The things we do should actually be effective, i.e. not for show and not to just make us feel better about what happened.
- That evil exists. Now I know this is a bit of a metaphysical departure from the first two, but I think generally everyone can agree that evil exists, either as a "thing" in and of itself (hey I was an engineer, not a philosopher) or as an abscence of goodness or light. I haven't met very many people that can't accept one of those two ideas – and it really doesn't matter which one is right for the rest of this to make any sense. Suffice to say, there is evil in the world in at least one of two "forms".
Now for my first specific request: does anyone disagree with any of those points? I really do want to understand, so if we are off on our base assumptions then let's start there.
Next, I'll list the things that I believe to be true that I think some of my friends disagree with me on (I won't go into more details than neccesary on each – just want to get them out there to see what I might have wrong):
- The best person to take care of you, in most cases, is….you. The exception being when you are somehow disabled (permanently or temporarily) and then the best person to take care of you is someone in your immediate family or circle of friends.
- Any large group or organiztion (including but not limited to the government) that doesn't really know who you are or what you are all about is not as good at taking care of you as you are (or in some cases as your family or immediate circle of friends).
- People are less responsible for themselves, their families, their friends, their neighbors and strangers they meet than they were in the past. This is a rather sweeping generalization I know, but I do believe it to be true on average. Say all you want about all the "social" technology we have today (including this blog and how you likely got to it), but we are less connected than we were in the past – in the true human sense of connection. This may be some form of notalgia for a false past, but again, I believe it to be true.
- People are generally lazy. This isn't a new development – its been true since the dawn of time and will be true until the last day (maybe next week if the Mayans were right). We want quick, easy to understand packaged "solution" to our problems.
- As a result (or perhaps as a driver – again, I don't want to get off track here about whether this is all intentional from the "top" – the reason for this doesn't matter for this discussion, as long as you agree that it's true – or argue against me) the government and the way it operates, i.e. laws, have expanded from something that protects the rights of the individual from other individuals as well as from the majority (the basis of all common law) to a set codes intended to take care of people and remove risk from everyone's life.
- This feeds on itself. I'm not sure where it starts or ends, but the basic cycle is: people feel less responsible for themselves, the government tries to take on more responsibility, which results in people feeling less responsible, and so on. Of course the problem is statement number 1 – even if the government had the best intentions at heart, its still not as good at taking care of people as people are at taking care of themselves. So people feel less responsible at exactly the time they are becoming more at risk, lulled into a false sense of security.
- People that break the laws we have now will ignore any new ones that we add to the books. This is sort of obvious to me, but somehow its one that a lot of people overlook. If there is a serious argument against this one, let's hear it.
- What we wish to be true and what is true are not always the same. This is not to say that we should accept things for what they are and just trudge on, but rather the first step of making them better is recognizing where you are and dealing with that to set yourself up to move to that better place.
- Things are not evil. People may or may not be evil (not really sure on this one – again, kind of beside the point for this discussion). But people can and do act in evil ways.
- Politicians have agendas. No value judgements here – some have agendas I agree with and some have agendas I disagree with. Again, not the point. They have them and whats more, they seek to use current events to further them. Let me be perfectly clear here: I am pointing my finger equally at those that want to use the blood spilled on Friday to ban guns as those that want to use that same blood to introduce God back into schools. See, both have an agenda and both are using the same event to further it. Disgusting really… (ok, that was a value judgement).
Now for my second request – what of what I stated above do I just have wrong. Pick one, pick them all. Or maybe what I wrote is right, but I am missing one of the logical conclusions that I might be missing.
Lastly I will end with my solution for what we need to do to severly descrease the risks of violence like we saw last Friday. This really is just an expansion of the facebook post I made yesterday – your gut reaction is often the right one:
Take responsibility for yourself. Say to yourself right now and every day from now one: "No one can take care of me better than me – what I do this day matters". You have no idea how transformational this can be for you and for everyone around you.
Start giving a shit about those around you. Tell them you love them. Make sure they know you are are here for them and listen and watch for signs of trouble. Don't be fooled into not saying somethign or taking action by social moires. Love knows no moires. Not to be a Monday morning quarter back, but what if everyone that was around the shooter had done this? No one can say this would have prevented Friday's tradgedy, but it would have done more good than harm.
Accept that even if we all took personal responsibility and started giving a shit about the people in our lives, that people can still do evil things. Going back to the first point of my action plan, make sure you are doing what you are comfortable with in order to stop those people from being succesful. This is really up to you – help your kids school with disaster planning, get a CCDW or even push legislation that will ban assault weapons. But ask yourself first – will that really do anything but make me feel like I've done something? Does it make me more or less responsible for me? Has the government been 100% succesful in restricting access to things that are banned in the past? Is this just the easy / quick answer – is it easier for me to deal with an evil object than an evil person, especially if I have to admit that I have more in common with that person than would make me feel comfortable? Did any of the laws that the shooter on Friday broke before he shot his first victim (breaking and entering, firearm on school grounds, etc) do anything to stop him, much less slow him down? Are my emotions being used to further some politicians agenda? WIll people with evil in their hearts still find a way to carry out that evil?
Let me conclude with this: I will be the first one to turn every firearm I own if I thought it would keep one more kid from getting killed in a classroom (or on the street for that matter). I want to solve this, and I guess that is why I argue so passionately against trying to solve it by banning guns (in whatever form that ban could take – all out or focused on a specific type that scares u) beacuse not only do I think it won't help – I think it will make it worse by folling us into thinking that we're done – that it's going to get better. We'd all breath a sigh of relief, only to be shocked and horrified when the next one happened, perhaps worse than this one because of the perception the risk had been removed. So for all of you that argue the other side, let me hear it – convince me. It's worth your time – you'd at least get my guns off the street.
Only one rule: whatever you come back with, has to make sense to me. I think everything I wrote above follows that rule, but am happy to hear where I viloated it. I will do the same for anything that comes back in as a comment – if I think it doesn't make sense I am going to push back until it does or you give up.