I have a confession.
I’ve realized, in the midst of recent events, that I’m absolutely, ashamedly one of those Americans who’s bartered knowledge and understanding for willful indifference. I’ve realized I’m one of those people who’s clinging to the proverbial phrase “ignorance is bliss” like a lost missionary to their Bible.
I used to identify with the whole Second Amendment, pro-arms argument regarding gun control. And then I realized my reasons and justifications were textbook bullshit and I became exhausted defending what I didn’t truly know. Somewhere between that season of conviction and now, dozens of publicized senseless shootings in our country have occurred. Grieving loves ones have united in justice, political spectrums have become blurred, opinions and values have been challenged. I feel like there’s this colossal chasm of pure static that’s widening with each gun-related tragedy. People’s opinions and words and suggestions become drowned out by each other and solutions seem more elusive and convoluted than ever. Static.
Most of my childhood memories are etched into my brain as ethereal daydreams. Few splashes of thoughts are concreted into my existence as solid stepping stones to who I am today. Using our family’s pets examples to justify eating cat food as a toddler. My first experience with computers in kindergarten and thinking that the whole “home keys” ploy was a lame technique to get us excited about the massive machines (that would obviously never be of use to us in the real world, just like algebra). Being told by my elementary art school teacher that I had a gift of “true imagination.” A horrific wreck I should’ve died from at age 11. And I couldn’t have been older than 7 when I remember vividly the first time my dad answered honestly about what mysterious, skinny fabric case was on the highest top shelf of the coat closet.
Fast forward to years and years later. In the climate of one of the presidential elections (I was high school aged), my dad revealed more of himself to me, mostly political opinions, including his stance on the issue of gun control. Now, if you, the reader, whoever you are, take anything away from all this rambling, hear this only: this is my interpretation of my father’s opinions. Hell, he could have a totally different recollection of our conversations and that’s fine. Memory is an objective thing. Anyway, I remember his staunch support for stricter gun laws and arms awareness. (Sorry, Daddy, for bringing you into this!)
This baffled me. And I think that whole conundrum of good vs. evil, pro-gun vs. anti-gun is what I truly took away from our talks. He was a gun-owner who seemed to absolutely abhor the thought of them. A true irony. Again, this is my interpretation, not necessarily the truth.
So that’s where I am today… figuratively speaking. I don’t own a gun but wouldn’t be opposing to buying one. I wouldn’t be opposed to buying a gun but I hate them. I hate the thought of them. I hate the thought of something created from the beautiful marriage of simple metals and chemistry having the god-like power to end lives. That makes my stomach churn.
This morning, as everyone knows, an alleged former disgruntled employee killed two innocent twentysomethings while they were filming a newscast on live television. I (for some embarrassing reason) watched the footage of the incident. Which is a whole debate in itself (clearly, the shooter wanted his act to be broadcast live, he wanted to affect millions of people and, in his mind, glorify his hatred). I know that I’m still in somewhat of a shock over it, exactly how I’ve felt during the aftermath of other recent shootings. For some reason (and I am in no way saying that other tragedies command any less of a moral conversation, whatsoever), the breaking news of today has troubled me emotionally more so than others.
[Side bar: how would my ancestors have felt knowing their future kin could speak of senseless deaths so rationally? What a dilemma.]
Something has to give. I don’t have a suggestion of what or how but I know why. I don’t even know if I could legally go buy a gun right now. What are the requirements? Would my DUI in in 2013 place me on the “reject” list? Am I legally required to list my current medications? Maybe I should be. I might be a clean-cut, law-abiding psychopath so maybe my mental health background should be researched, too. Do they do that now? Honestly, I’m ignorant to all this. Black and white doesn’t cut it anymore. Do we stop supporting violent films and shows and games? Let’s be real, that’s never going to happen. Do we just stop watching the news and stop sharing actual footage of death and gore? The news and directors and celebrities only give people what they want to hear. I’m guilty of that. Does that make me as guilty as the disturbed man firing the gun? Just a little, maybe?
It’s human nature. We’re a sick species. I know that much. As much as I want to put a redemptive “but” after that, I just can’t. We’re a sick species, period. I don’t envision any rainbows and sunshine and puppies following that. There’s only a devoid, numbing static.
So I’ve been scouring the internet searching for responses from politicians and lawmakers, anyone, regarding what steps need to be taken to battle and wane these incidents. I can’t find any though and it’s probably because the shooting was only a few short hours ago. All I can find are pictures of the alleged shooter next to the pictures of the victims (which is entirely disrespectful, by the way) and paragraphs and articles and posts on who inspired the alleged shooter and his background and then again, these stories will cut mercilessly to the victims and their families and their lives. I know we need to grieve. God help them, the families and loved ones need to grieve. But damn it when is there an end to all this? It’s a cycle fueled by distress and revenge and angst. What’s the metal rod that jams the spokes of these incidents?
Now, I’m fairly familiar with the Constitution and it’s contents. I like to think my years as a history major haven’t gone to waste and I could actually hold my own, at least for a few minutes, in a debate over American history. Oh, that lovely, ever-quoted Second Amendment. What a double-edged sword (pun intended). In the early days of a (hot mess, may I add) young America, the founding fathers were scrambling to create the building blocks of the country we all refer to now as the greatest nation in the world.
[Side bar: for more on this, watch this this stunning clip from The Newsroom.]
Independence from England was a concept that still felt illegal to most inhabitants of this new political entity. With this new political entity a standard document of rights would need to be created, no? And so it was. These founding fathers (one of whom was my distant ancestor, George Mason, which makes me feel pretty damn legit) decided exercise of religion, freedom of speech, press and assembly was a pretty good place to start. The First Amendment. And then they decided they also need the right to own and bear arms. The Second Amendment. It’s pretty much a given: let’s make sure we have the right to do what we want and let’s make sure we have the right to protect those rights. It’s not rocket science. So history was made. For the record, if George Washington or George Mason or Benjamin Franklin or John Adams or Alexander Hamilton knew what was going on today in our political and economical landscape they’d be pretty ashamed. Sorry. I hope I’m wrong but I doubt it. We’re pretty much the definition of a clusterfuck.
What I’m trying to say is this: if I was a betting woman, I bet the founding fathers most likely did not intend for the Second Amendment to become the ultimate crux of our country’s current gun control debate. From where I stand politically (don’t ask me where that is, I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere really strange, like a circus fun house), the Second Amendment has nothing to do with today’s breaking news or the Sandy Hook incident or the Virginia Tech massacre or Columbine. Hell, the Second Amendment has more to do with the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Zachary Hammond. It’s a classic example of apples and oranges. Like a toddler with different shaped blocks trying to fit them into their matching holes, it just simply does not make sense to me.
So two people were innocently shot and killed while trying to earn a living fulfilling their passion. I’m still confused about where we go from here as a society, as lawmakers, as voters. I don’t know much but I know it’s the mother of all catch 22’s. The problem is the solution and the solution is the problem. It’s an irony that’s seriously plaguing our country by the day, by the event, by the person who turns a blind eye. And that’s me. I’m now knowingly part of this rampant problem. Like a drug addict, I don’t know the necessary route to seek help nor can I fathom an end to these senseless tragedies.
Honest to God, I’m hungry, starved for a sensible solution. I don’t know where we go from here but it has to be somewhere. And it’s not to a place of more bickering and chasing our tails while the lives of innocent souls become plastered on screens and papers next to the methods of which and by whom they were killed.
Does anyone know?