Guns,Baseball And Apple Pie

Here in these United States there are a lot of guns floating around. According to a Pew Research study there are somewhere between 270 million to 310 million . The U S population is about 325 million people so that means there are enough guns to arm every man ,woman and child in America. Any discussion of gun ownership and Second Amendment rights provokes strong feelings and sends people into their entrenched ideological camps. The national dialogue around guns is a toxic subject

I hate guns. I grew into my hatred of guns slowly over decades. My  concept of guns originated on TV and in films. The Lone Ranger used a gun and left behind silver bullets as souvenirs. Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd shot at Bugs Bunny every Saturday morning. One of the more defining traits of Superman was that he was bullet proof. This type of entertainment was seen as good clean fun. As I got older my  experiences grew and became more sophisticated. Guns became something I heard about on the news, and I personally began to know victims of gun violence. I remember one time in particular when my mother was robbed at gun point on our front porch after getting home from work one night. I also remember a time as a teenager when I was in a heated argument with a family member that was struggling with drug addiction. The family member, with tears in his eyes said, “if I had a gun I would blow your motherfucking brains out.” I believed him. Today this family member is clean and sober and we are as close as two people can be. There is nothing but genuine love between us but what if things were different and there was a gun available? I could’ve been killed and the course of his life would have been changed forever.

After college I enlisted in the United States Army and became a Medical Specialist(Combat Medic).My first duty station was Ft Drum, NY and I was  deployed to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope.  I was involved in the treatment of  civilian and military mass casualty patients. I saw first hand, on multiple occasions the  damage guns can do to the human body. After returning from Somalia I remember when  a fellow soldier and friend of mine was shot in the neck, paralyzed and later died following an altercation at a nightclub. Gun violence has destroyed the lives of a lot of good people I know.

After the Army I began working as Cardiovascular Technologist in Atlanta. It was around that time when I began to notice the prevalence of school shootings. Columbine was the first big one that got my attention and then others followed.This is just one link detailing some of the deadliest school shootings since Columbine. Coverage of these tragic events often entailed a cycle of outrage, thoughts and prayers and legislative inaction. Between the influence of the NRA and the ridiculous “slippery slope” arguments  of conservatives a serious conversation on guns seems impossible.

Guns are tools that can be used for good or evil. What makes them different from most tools is their capacity for harm. I feel that guns should be heavily regulated. It has been shown that gun owners are more likely to harm themselves than any potential attackers. It has also been documented that somewhere around 50 percent of suicides are carried out by guns. Guns emboldens people to behave more aggressively than they would without one.

It is sad the president and republicans oppose ANY gun legislation whatsoever. No one on the left has ever proposed overturning the Second Amendment(never mind the fact it would take a lot of buy in for that to happen).There are some common sense laws that should be established and enforced regarding guns. First of all there is absolutely no reason for ordinary civilians to have access to automatic weapons of war. There should be an assault weapons ban. People can’t and shouldn’t have working tanks, bazookas or nuclear bombs for obvious reasons. Automatic guns capable of killing hundreds of people in seconds should be no exception. Secondly, mentally unstable people and criminals shouldn’t have access to guns. We should have universal background checks for everyone wishing to buy a gun with a mandatory waiting period. That background check should happen whether you are buying at a gun show or online, background check standards should be the same across the board. If you pass a background check and you give or sell a gun to someone that shouldn’t have one then you should be held liable for whatever crimes they commit with it.  Finally you shouldn’t be able to own a weapon until you’re at least 21 years old(of course you can use one in the execution of official military service).

I believe these proposals are reasonable but of course we are not living in reasonable times. With the current president and a Republican Party willing to turn a blind eye to his unethical, immoral and illegal behavior common sense gun legislation is unlikely. It will remain unlikely until there becomes a political price to pay for kowtowing to the NRA and being indifferent to the pain and suffering of gun violence. The best way to bring about change is to register to vote, show up and vote those do nothing people out of office. If we don’t then gun violence and school shootings will become as synonymous with America as baseball and Apple pie.

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