[note: my “liberal” politics are showing, please feel free to skip this post about “gun control”]

There’s no fiction in 50 lost lives in Orlando. Hell yes, it’s tragic. Now, in the aftermath, we’re subjected to reruns of tired ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ rhetoric, somehow entirely overlooking that all practical measures proposed to address gun violence would apply to people, their behavior, and their access to firearms. Can we at least admit – whether we personally own a firearm or not – that some people are not as safe with a firearm as others? Please?

I am frustrated by the reflexive defense of gun ownership (in general) by people whose ownership is not being attacked. Is the defensiveness shown by so many purportedly responsible gun owners [when regulation changes come up in conversation] due to insecurity regarding their personal safety, or is it due to undiscussed concerns that they may not be as safe with a gun as they insist they are? (I know it was my own awareness that I was a living breathing risk factor for gun violence that caused me to give up owning a firearm, myself – it didn’t seem like a difficult choice to me.)

Personally, I don’t have any problem with, or concern about, responsible adult citizens owning a firearm for home defense, for target shooting, for hunting… although I do insist that we all be quite frank about the implied violence of firearm use. Firearms are tools, sure – for killing. That is their purpose. So…um… do we really want just any/everyone to be easily able to obtain a firearm – a tool for killing? Seriously? Even, say, people convicted of hate crimes? Domestic violence? Assault? Robbery? Rape? Hell – do we even want people with unmanaged mental health issues who haven’t yet been violent owning firearms, if they appear to have a high potential for violence in some noteworthy and obvious way demonstrated by ongoing observed behavior? Don’t we want to mitigate the risk of more hate or rage fueled shootings by restricting gun ownership to responsible people, and also to people actually emotionally fit to own a firearm? If those are things we want, then yeah, regulation of some kind is a given. Why is it so hard to stomach basic skills testing and licensing requirements? We do that with cars, and it doesn’t seem to have taken any cars off the road. Why is it so hard to contemplate some kind of simple ‘fitness test’ to rule out the obviously at risk of violence? Sure, sure, it may be difficult to craft a test that identifies people at risk well, without screening out people who are not at risk of mis-using a firearm – that makes it challenging, not impossible. Is it unreasonable to ask that people diagnosed with PTSD eschew firearm ownership until their care provider is confident they are not at risk of becoming unexpectedly violent? What is that so uncomfortable? (It seems entirely reasonable to me; I’ve seen what lies within the walls of the nightmare city, and I have waded through some deep corners of chaos and damage.)

Is the big fear [for people who already own guns] that someone will come along and attempt to place some apparently responsible gun owner into a cubby labeled ‘not all that god damned safe with a firearm actually’ and take their guns away ‘for no reason’? It seems unlikely. I understand being uneasy about it, though; human beings don’t have a great track record for acting reasonably, moderately, and with great care. Silencing the conversation about gun safety hasn’t been a great strategy for change either, though, has it? We’d do well to have the conversation, to listen more than we talk, to really hear each other’s concerns – from all sides, from all perspectives. It’s a complicated issue, but also an issue that seems to have quite a few potential solutions to consider that are less extreme than ‘take all the guns’.

Yes, I do understand that no additional regulation of firearms would be needed if we ‘addressed the causes of violence’… and… Well, given the ongoing contention regarding LGBTQ rights, the hostility toward women in everyday society, the commonness of domestic violence, and the difficulty with effectively diagnosing and treating the mentally ill, it doesn’t seem we’re quite ‘there’ yet with regard to managing the causes of violence – hell, we don’t even reliably treat people we love well, as a society. I’m totally down with addressing the causes of violence – let’s do that! So… how will we do that? I’m hoping the gun owners must have some thoughts on that, since they are so vocal about preferring to address the causes of violence as a solution to gun violence, rather than regulatory measures that might affect them, also.

I’m angry about this. I’m bitching. Words. More words. Impotent words. Words that get heads nodding when read by a like-minded reader. Words that rouse frustration and ire, or distance, from readers who disagree with my thoughts on the topic. No meeting of the minds is likely – no one really listening, I suspect, just reacting to phrases and buzzwords consistent with bias and programming. That’s really ‘the problem’, isn’t it? Argument doesn’t often result in people listening to the other guy deeply and gaining understanding or perspective, that’s left to conversation. When we feel attacked, we stop listening. When we defend ourselves, we are not listening either. To exchange ideas, we’ll probably need to let go of all that, and just talk, which implies really listening, too. Are you ready for that? To ask questions and listen to the answers? To take time to make sense of a perspective that isn’t your own? To accept someone else’s perspective as equally valid – equally valued – and seek solutions that respect mutually exclusive positions? I didn’t suggest it would be easy, I’m simply saying it isn’t outside the realm of possibilities – there are verbs involved.

Anyway. Keep your guns. Let’s figure out how to also allow everyone else to keep their lives. There are verbs involved. 🙂