As anybody who has read this blog for any length of time already knows, I support the Second Amendment. This may sound weird coming from somebody whose faith doesn't believe in the handling or owning guns, but this isn't about me or my personal choices or beliefs. If it were up to me, nobody would have guns and everybody would live together in peace and harmony... amen.
But the world is a bit more complicated than that, so eliminating gun violence is not a simple problem to solve. And, as much as we'd like to think that there is something to be done about preventing mass-shootings, our options are not as cut-and-dried as people like to think.
The reason things are so complicated when it comes to gun violence?
It's the technology.
No, I'm not going to bore you with an endless diatribe about how guns are a God-Given American Right* or that Guns Are Guaranteed By Our Constitution So We Can Protect Ourselves From Our Own Government If They Become Corrupt And Abusive**... partly because I think that is a load of horse shit... but mostly because it honestly doesn't matter.
Because it's the technology.
It's being reported that the reason the mass-murderer in Las Vegas was able to harm and kill such a huge number of lives is because he had a "bump stock" which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire like an automatic rifle. Naturally, a great many people are calling for "bump stocks" to be immediately banned. Which may actually help curb mass shootings like this in the future. At least for people who don't already own one.
But only for a short while.
Or no while at all.
The thing about "accessories" like this is that we are quickly getting to the point where you won't need to buy a "bump stock" from a manufacturer... you'll be able to download plans off the internet and 3D print one in the privacy of your own home. I don't know if current 3D plastics are strong enough for such a thing, but 3D printing with metal or super-tough polymers is just one technological step away and it's not irrational to imagine a day very soon when somebody will be able to print out whatever they want from whatever material they desire. Including "bump stocks." So ban away. It will ultimately make very little difference (which is why the piece-of-shit-NRA is actually supporting the idea). The people who probably shouldn't have them will never turn them in. The black market for them will appear within minutes. It would take decades before you could collect them all (as if you ever could). In the meanwhile? Technology.
And "bump stocks" are not the end, of course. 3D printers will eventually get larger and more accurate and be able to produce stronger, more durable prints. And that technology will eventually trickle down to ordinary citizens, as all technology eventually does. 3D printing your personal copy of an AK-47 "assault" rifle in the privacy of your own home is really not that far away. Whatever weapon you desire, from a Klingon bat'leth or a BB gun to a .45 Magnum pistol or a fully automatic rifle... it will all be within reach.
Ah, but what about gunpowder! You can't 3D print gun powder! How about we let everybody keep their guns, but ban the bullets? It's a nice thought, but gunpowder was invented by a 9th century Chinese chemist and we've gone way, way past those days. Cooking up an explosive to propel a bullet is a relatively simple matter... probably using everyday items you can find under your kitchen sink.
So... what then?
If a ban on guns won't work because there are too many out there that will never end up getting confiscated and technology is quickly getting to the point where it won't matter anyway, what's the solution?
I don't know.
But, very soon now, it won't be about the guns, no matter how badly we want it to be.****
Which is where we get to the part of the story where I put in my 2¢ on stuff...
- PRIORITIZE, ADVOCATE, AND FUND MENTAL HEALTH
Thanks to technology, keeping guns out of the hands of bat-shit crazy assholes who want to kill crowds of people isn't going to be possible (and, yes, you have to be a bat-shit crazy asshole in order to commit such a heinous act). Whether they 3D print them or buy them on the black market or whatever, some bat-shit crazy asshole intent on getting a gun to kill a bunch of people is going to get that damn gun. But... what if we prioritized, advocated, and funded mental health in this country so that bat-shit crazy assholes got help before they became bat-shit crazy assholes? As always happens, people are coming forth after the shooting to talk about bat-shit crazy crap that the shooter did "before the incident." In this case, it was subtle things like being abusive towards his girlfriend... and major things like being recruited by a hate group and buying a shit-load of Guns of Mass Murder. Odds are, there were signs the guy needed help long before we got to this place. But because this country refuses to prioritize, advocate, or fund mental health (or put the smack-down on hate groups which exploit those who are struggling with it)... he's fucked, which means we're all fucked. Better to get little Bobby some help when you catch him lighting shit on fire rather than wait for him to grow up and become an arsonist. But if you can't afford to get little Bobby some help, what can you do? Beat him into wellness? I think we all know that's just an invitation to escalation. Our government needs to fund mental health. Our insurance companies need to cover mental health. This is a non-partisan no-brainer. Force our politicians to act on this. That's what they're there for.
- ELIMINATE MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA
I remain shocked that many, many Americans have mental problems that need tending to... and yet the overwhelming consensus seems to be that mental illness is something that is shameful and needs to be ridiculed, ignored, or hidden away. To this point... how many of you flinched when I used the term "bat-shit crazy asshole" in the first point above? Probably none of you. Because it's far easier to dismiss somebody with problems via ridicule than attempt to approach them with compassion and understanding. I am guilty of it. Odds are you are guilty of it. The USA is guilty of it. And so... people aren't getting the help they need. Parents are too ashamed to get help for their kids at a time when the help would do the most good. What will the neighbors think? Well, if they are well-adjusted, caring neighbors, they will be happy that your kid is getting the help he needs to grow up and become a well-adjusted adult. If they aren't, who gives a shit? They're obviously assholes who you shouldn't be factored into your thinking. And this is the point. We've got to change the conversation about mental health in this country. Eliminate the stigma which prevents people from getting the help they need.
- REIGN IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES AND EDUCATE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
This goes hand-in-hand with points 1 and 2. A big reason that this country isn't funding mental health care the way we should? Because our representatives are paid by the pharmaceutical lobby not to. Why get to the root of the problem and try to solve it with talk when it's far easier for your doctor to just give you a pill to "fix it?" Not only easier... but far more profitable to the pharmaceutical companies as well. Now, I am not saying pills are not a solution... Lord only knows they have been for me at times... but are they they right solution? Not always. We had better be making sure that when pills are prescribed that they are the best way to address what's going on. I'm betting that a lot of times they're not. That's how people end up taking 20 pills a day. Want to ban something that will do some immediate good? Ban lobbyists. Cut the fucking money and perks out of our politics so that politicians do what's right instead of what's right for their re-election campaign. Ban doctors from taking money or perks from drug companies too. Instead get them better educated to recognize signs of mental problems and treat (or make a referral to treat) those who need it.
- INVEST IN THE TECHNOLOGY TO COUNTER TECHNOLOGY
So, thanks to technology, people are soon going to be able to 3D print an AK-47 at home. What can you do about it? Not much, if we're being honest. But what about investing in the technology to counter the technology that makes mass-shootings possible? Do I know what this technology might be? No. I'm just not that smart. But I've got a box named "Alexa" that sits on my counter that controls my entire automated home just by me talking to her, and people smart enough to come up with that are smart enough to come up with all kinds of magical things. Problem is? Who is going to pay for developing technology to save 59 people at a concert when they can make Big Money by investing in the development of the technology that lets hundreds of thousands of people turn on their kitchen lights by talking to a box? There has to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or else nobody is going to chase the rainbow. I don't know about you, but having my tax dollars go towards funding technology that makes us all safer? Sign me up. I'm not saying I want to build Skynet here... but an automated drone which can recognize a mass shooting happening at act instantly to protect people? (or whatever) Yes please.
- INITIATE REASONABLE GUN RESTRICTIONS
Yeah, yeah. While I honestly believe that, very soon now, gun restrictions are about as useful as a buggy whip... there's something to be said about a sane approach to firearms in this country right now. It's an attitude which will ultimately influence the way that future generations view guns, and we are obviously need something better there. As I said a couple days ago, when I was a kid who was a member of the NRA and shot guns, the NRA was not a psychotic organization that wanted everybody to be fucking paranoid about their gun freedoms all the fucking time so they can keep membership dues and contributions flowing. The NRA was a sane, rational, organization which existed to promote gun safety. They also advocated reasonable gun restrictions so that people couldn't abuse the guns that NRA members are so passionate about. The president at the time, Conservative Demigod Ronald Reagan, was also an advocate for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership. Overall, it was a much saner time. But now? Fuck that, there's money for the NRA to be making in unlimited firearm access! There's money for the president to be making in unlimited firearm access! There's money for all our politicians to be making in unlimited firearm access! And it's that attitude that's getting people killed. So, yeah. Reasonable gun restrictions. Universal background checks are supported by the vast majority of Americans. But with our politicians too busy sucking NRA cock for cash... and the NRA too busy sucking gun company cock for cash and chasing paranoia money for even more cash... it's not happening. Force politicians to do what the majority of people in this country already want: require background checks for anybody purchasing a firearm under any conditions. Something else that the majority of Americans support? Banning gun possession by anybody who is under a restraining order for domestic violence. Yes, they might acquire a firearm by other means (that's always a possibility), but surely standing up and saying "persons legally found to be violent towards others shouldn't legally be able to own a gun" is a no-brainer? You'd think so... but that's our politicians sucking cock for cash again. The list goes on and on. That "bump-stock" thing, for example. Reasonable restrictions are not a violation of the Second Amendment. They are a clarifying statement on the Second Amendment for the common good. And, regardless of what technology does to render restrictions moot in the future, right now we are in desperate need of common good.
I could go on. This is a long, difficult, complicated subject. But I think you get where I'm coming from. Banning guns outright... whatever kind of guns they may be... is a very short term solution for a long-term problem that is not going away. Not in this country where guns are as prevalent as staplers. Not in this time when technology is going to be arming people in ways we can't even dream of yet. By focusing money and effort on what makes somebody want to murder masses of people... by developing a healthier take on mental health problems... by coming up with reasonable attitudes towards what gun ownership should be... these are all things that should be obvious steps. But clearly they are not. Partly because Americans seemed content to be conditioned to think that mass shootings are "the price of freedom"... partly because we are driven to treat the underlying problem as shameful and worthy of ridicule... partly because our country's political system is corrupted by lobbyists... and partly because our politicians are sucking cock for cash.
Don't think for a minute that anything will ever change without action. Don't think for a second that our politicians will stop sucking cock for cash on their own. They've got re-election to think about. This has to come from us. This. Has. To. Come. From. Us.
Otherwise, we get the country we deserve.
And that's true no matter how you feel about guns, no matter what politial party you ascribe to, and no matter how many people die.
*Using a gun to hunt or protect yourself is absolutely a right in this country. So is collecting guns. So is trading guns like bubble gum cards, if that's your thing. For now. Because the amazing thing about the American Constitution which spells out these rights is that it can be amended or even tossed out and replaced. Not by God, but by the American people. Given it's the Second AMENDMENT to The Constitution that we're talking about here, you already knew this, right?
**Bwah ha ha... "IF" they become corrupt or abusive? That ship has certainly sailed! The reason it's horse shit to think that you'll be able to protect yourself from a corrupt and abusive government is that you won't be firing at soldiers with guns who are "coming to get you"... not by a longshot. Those days are long gone. You'll be facing endless waves of tiny armed drones. Drones that can react faster than a human and are far more difficult to hit. Not to mention being expendable.*** And this is assuming that a rogue American government wouldn't just send a missile up your ass.
***Not that our government hasn't treated the men and women serving in our military as expendable... don't even get me started.
****Lets set aside the debate over whether it's currently about the guns, since my argument is that it just won't matter in the near future. That debate gets us nowhere, because we (as a country) will never agree on it. In my opinion? OF COURSE IT'S ABOUT THE FUCKING GUNS! The whole "Guns don't kill people, people kill people!" argument is about the stupidest shit I've ever heard. Do you think the lunatic that killed 59 people and injured hundreds of others could have done so from the 32nd floor of a hotel a block away without a fucking gun? Yes, a gun is a tool to be used and abused like any other. But give me a fucking break.
UPDATE: Sadly, I've had to disable comments for this post. If you disagree with me (and many people from both sides of the debate do) that's fine. Everybody has an opinion and this blog is where I share mine. But I am getting an absurd amount of over-the-top comments, and having to delete uncivilized discourse at Blogography is getting to be a full-time job.