May 08, 2009

Gun Rights Under Fire

(Three videos today, please be patient while the page loads.)

There are many people out there who feel gun owners are being paranoid. These same people might or might not have a personal opinion on Second Amendment Advocacy, and some of them have never even read the Second Amendment. A few of them believe the Second Amendment can never be repealed and a few of them simply don't care one way or another. Most of the people who feel gun owners are being paranoid fall into the group Jeff Snyder likes to refer to as, "Plastic People".

Plastic people are solely concerned with their own little corner of the world. They are willing to tolerate anything and everything the government does because they assume the government is filled with experts solely concerned with their welfare. Personally, I am always suspicious of anyone who claims to know what I need better than I do. Once in awhile they are right. More often, however, it has been my experience that anyone who professed to be solely concerned with my welfare was in fact, concerned only with their own. My welfare was only of concern to them to the extent that I did not conform to their preconceived notion of what I should be, what I could be, or what I was expected to be.

I am not interested in fulfilling someone else's plan for my life. For me, the struggle to fulfill my own needs and the daily battle to fulfill my own simple dreams is more than enough for one life. I don't have time or energy to worry about what someone else hopes I will become.

I am not without empathy. Reading of Columbine and Virginia Tech filled my chest with pain and brought tears to my eyes. These were horrible tragedies and both of them represented failures on so many levels by so many people that it boggles the mind. Sadly, it would be completely impossible to write a law that could have effectively prevented either tragedy (let alone both!) without also endangering even more lives in the future. The only realistic way to have limited the damage done would have been to arm the students in both schools ahead of time and train them until they mastered the personal firearm of their choice. If a dozen armed and trained students had stood up to oppose either the Harris/Klebold team or Sueng-Hui Cho the killing would have been brought to a sudden, dramatic close.

I don't have any complicated laws to propose that would bring utopia and end the killing. Whenever I read of someone shooting another person the only thought that ever comes to mind is, "why wasn't the victim armed and prepared to defend their own life? Why was there no one in the immediate vicinity who could have returned fire when the killer pulled out their gun and opened fire?"

Every so often there is a story about someone who fights back, shooting a robber, a burglar, a rapist, or some other criminal. However, the media far prefers stories about young people shot down in the prime of life while going about their daily business. Recently, for example, a priest in Chicago has begun flying an American flag upside down in an effort to raise awareness to the almost daily occurrence of shootings with school age victims happening in Chicago's poorer neighborhoods.

Again, I watch the news unfolding about the deaths in Chicago and I cannot help but ask, "why is there no one armed and ready to come to the aid of Chicago's children?"

Seriously! That is how I feel. There is no way Chicago could ever afford to pay enough police to have someone available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year on every street corner in the neighborhoods where these shootings are taking place. It simply is not practical. The only realistic solution is to arm everyone in the neighborhood and train them in firearms safety and proficiency. Another good tool would be to teach conflict resolution starting in elementary school and continuing it every single year.

Take two days a year to teach firearms and two days a year to teach conflict resolution. Teaching one without the other would be patently useless. No one, no matter how well taught, will use good conflict resolution skills every single time they have a problem with the people around them. No one, no matter how well taught, can be expected to responsibly handle firearms without also learning the difference between assertive conflict resolution and aggressive responses to a perceived threat.

In order for conflict resolution to have any real-world importance to the students they have to fully understand why an aggressive response is inappropriate. Once they understand how aggression escalates conflict rather than reducing it, they will be more open to learning non-aggressive alternatives. Even then, they need to know intimately that in those cases where no matter what they do the situation helplessly spirals out of control, they have the means and the skill necessary to take action if they are directly threatened.

Arm and train everyone. It will not bring utopia, but it will insure that if someone does pull a gun intent on doing harm there will be plenty of people around them with a ready response.