Saturday, July 9, 2016

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Part 1

After the Sandyhook attack that killed 20 children, my school offered a concealed weapon permit class. I had always been against guns in my house, had never considered carrying a gun, but out of curiosity, Tony and I attended the class.

At the end of class which may have been two or three hours, Tony and I, had we paid the necessary fees and showed our ability to load and unload a gun, could have received a permit to carry a firearm.

We didn't stay. We didn't pay the fees; I never held the gun. I concluded that if a threatening intruder entered the school, I was more likely to accidentally shoot a student than the bad guy.

The class was taught by a passionate, level headed man whose own experience led him down this path of belief that everyone has the right to arm and protect themselves.

When he was a young man, his family lived in a middle eastern country. As the family car idled at a stop light, a bandit, running from authorities, hijacked their car. The armed man shot and killed his mother who was pregnant at the time, and one of his siblings. He vowed to never again be so helpless.

As violence seems to be escalating in our nation, so does the desire to defend oneself.

I have an acquaintance who carries a gun, yet his goal is to never shoot another human being. He understands more than anyone the repercussions of carrying a firearm, the emotionally devastating trauma that would come with taking another person's life, even if clearly justifiable. Yet, he carries that gun because he knows it's a possibility if he ever had to defend his own family. Because of this, he practices weekly--at a shooting range, at targets set up in designated areas. He is a responsible gun handler, and I would feel safe in his presence.

Part 2

Yesterday morning, I had to rise early and drive to a nearby city. The radio was on--tuned to NPR, and I realized something very bad had happened in Dallas the previous night. The news story assumed everyone already knew about Dallas and didn't elaborate on the details that would have pieced the story together. When I came home, I went straight to the internet to find out what had happened.

The incident wasn't isolated and I had to backtrack to the other stories that had supposedly led up to the killing of police officers. I watched the facebook video from Minnesota, the video of the Baton Rouge killing. I then had enough information to watch all the available video of the Dallas disaster.

It was a really crappy day, and I hadn't even lived the events; I only had to read about and watch to feel the devastation. Imagine being at the center of the nightmares-a loved one of the deceased, a policeman who pulled the trigger.

As long as we continue to make it about race, the problems will escalate.

Part 3

The problem is fear. Fear of vulnerability and fear of death. Fear of the worst potential of other human beings.  Fear of being at the mercy of that worst potential.

How do we handle a problem as ambiguous, as systemic, as human, as fear? How do we eliminate fear? I don't have the answer, but if we can eliminate one element of fear, we are at least starting the climb of a very tall mountain.

People who exercise the constitutional right to bear arms must be held accountable: better training, more practice. A car can be a lethal weapon too, so strict requirements are in place to train and re-test a person's right to drive. If I want to drive, I have to read the handbook, take driver's education and if I'm a minor, drive with a responsible adult for an entire year before getting a driver's license.

People who exercise the constitutional right to bear arms must be held mentally accountable. Evidence of sanity, common sense, and non-affiliation with hate groups is a given.

How do we pay for the check and balance? How do we enforce mental health and gun control? Any suggestions I might make would be out of ignorance, but  I know there are solutions. Any cost would be cheaper than the lawsuits, the funerals, the cost and consequences of hate and blame on race.

I keep re-writing part 3. I don't know if I'm right or wrong. I reckon my uncertainty is shared by many people who know things have to change, who would hate to regress to the racial turmoil of the 60s and 70s.  What is the solution?