Hard Stop Sanity

If I haven’t visited you lately I apologize, I had a very difficult time processing my feelings after the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday. I have watched social media for the week, watched friends and family make their personal stands on the issues of gun control, mental health and a host of other surrounding issues. This is a disclaimer, I am not a mental health expert, I am not an expert on the Constitution nor am I an expert on all the issues surrounding firearms, murder rates or suicide. I am a parent and a grandparent, I am a victim of violent crime, I am a survivor of domestic violence and I am a citizen of the United States. I care about living in a civil and sane society in the future and I care about the future of my children and grandchildren.

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At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois January 27, 1838

We are complicit through our inaction, through our fear and our refusal to acknowledge the issues we create through greed, ignorance and ideology. Yes, I said it we created the Hell that sees our children dying in their classrooms, in the streets, in the mall. We are responsible for this mayhem, this chaos this vicious cycle.

We are a nation of paranoids, a nation of victims wrapped in flags with Bibles in one hand and high capacity military grade weapons in the other. What are we afraid of? Oh sure, the government is tyrannical and somehow we must protect ourselves (hint: even with the weapons you have they have better ones). Of course, you need these high capacity clips and assault weapons to defend your home (hint: if you have fired 100 rounds in 30 seconds Bible&Gunsyou have likely killed your own family along with the bad guys and if they aren’t down you aren’t getting out alive).

We should not be quick to jump to conclusions, we should not be quick to slap that ‘insanity’ label on giving us the excuse to wipe our hands and carry on with our mundane lives. The truth is, most spree murderers are not clinically ‘insane’, do not have long-term psychiatric problems and are not psychotic. The make-up of the mass murder is changing, what isn’t changing is access to high-capacity magazines and military guns making the death toll higher.

The meme of those who demand their Second Amendment rights remain sacrosanct:

  • Guns don’t kill people Kill
  • 64,999,987 legal gun owners killed no one yesterday
  • Know guns, know peace and safety. No guns, no peace nor safety.
  • Gun control is hitting what you aim at.
  • The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.

Don’t you just love some of those? Yeah, me too they make me all warm and fuzzy; not.

In light of the tragedies of recent years, does the above stupidity hold weight? Can we honestly stand aside and allow our nation to continue to hold the record for death by gun violence among other high income nations, is this what we should be proud of?

Just a small slice

Just a small slice

I am pragmatic; the monster is already out of the box. We cannot fix what is already so tragically broken. We cannot change the minds or hearts of those who believe the only way to a Civil society is by arming themselves, arming school teachers, arming college students in their classrooms and dorms. We cannot change a society convinced they must be armed to the teeth, in their homes, their cars and walking the streets to protect themselves from the government, those violent ‘others’ they heard about or the zombie apocalypse.

Let’s start with some facts; I think it is important to make this a non-partisan issue:

  • Gun owners are both ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’
  • When the Constitution was written, guns were breach load muskets single shot
  • Slave and Land holders wrote the Constitution; in fact, within the first ten amendments slavery is ratified. We do occasionally see the error of our ways and correct them, the Constitution was not written on stone tables by a lightning bolt shot from on high.
  • Anyone is able to purchase any type of firearm, including military grade semi-automatic rifles and handguns without a background check or waiting period in the secondary market (gun shows and private sales, including the internet). Forty percent (40%) of all legally purchased firearms are purchased this way.
  • Anyone can purchase as much ammunition in any clip size as they want without any tracking, registration or license on the internet.
  • Approximately 10,000 people are murdered every year in gun violence, many of them teenagers.

There are those who say their right to bear arms, their right to conceal carry, their right to own any weapon and any clip size is inviolate. They say armed rebellion would be the result of any attempt at Gun Control, they say SCOTUS has confirmed their right in District of Columbia v Heller to be armed and dangerous under any and all circumstances and without restraint.

This is what I say; I say there must be some middle ground that satisfies all of us. There must be some middle ground that stops the senseless deaths of our children and the murderous rampages in our public places.

This is what I believe must happen if we are ever to begin to heal this nation:

  • Require national registration
  • Demand Conceal Carry permits only in the following circumstance and make this a federal mandate:
    • Show true need (e.g. over the road truck drivers, certain security personnel, off duty police)
    • Attend regular training
  • Require same background check and waiting period in secondary market as in gun stores
  • Create national mental health registry
  • Update criminal background check registry to include domestic violence
  • Do not allow restoration of civil rights after time-served to allow gun purchase for violent criminals
  • Update background check to include Terrorist Watch List
  • Limit Clip Size to 10 rounds
  • Do not allow private purchase without background checks, make private sales illegal even between family members
  • Shut down internet sales of ammunition
  • Require gun safes in the home of all gun owners with children under 18
  • Raise the age limit to 25 for legal purchase and gun ownership
  • Require gun safety class before purchase
  • Change Stand your Ground laws to apply only to personal property / personal homes make this federal rather than state by state
  • Create a federal buy-back program to get illegal guns off the streets of our cities, give it two (2) years. Within the scope of the buy-back program, strengthen the laws and penalties for owning an illegal gun, selling a gun illegally and for using an illegal gun in the commission of a crime.

I don’t want to take your guns. I want sanity and safety. I would rather not call it gun control, I would rather call it Gun Sanity. These days I am afraid to go to the theater, the mall or anywhere else. If you are a gun owner, frankly I am afraid of you. Is this really the world any of us want?

http://www.academia.edu/1199492/Hegemonic_Masculinity_and_Mass_Murderers_in_the_United_States

http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence?s=1

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/in-gun-ownership-statistics-partisan-divide-is-sharp/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

Comments

  1. As I read this, there is a movie on television with gunfire and mayhem. Violence has become such a staple of entertainment that it’s almost just a soundtrack any more. It’s certainly a complex issue that needs to be addressed on multiple levels. Thanks for your thoughtful ideas. I wish us all a peaceful new year. 🙂

  2. Val,
    if we do not change after Sandy Hook, I am AFRAID for our country…very afraid.

    I am angry. I am sad. I am sick.

    on the other hand, I am sending you love from Minnesota. Xx

    • Each time, every time another child lies in a pool of blood another spree killing, another mass murder, another domestic rampage. It doesn’t end. After a couple of days for this nation to mourn the lunatics come out with their solution…..more guns.

      I am angry also. I am sad, also. I am sick to death of this nation of violent azzhats.

      Love right back at you. One of these days I am coming back up to Minnesota (not during the Winter though) and you and I are going to sit down and just be quite together.

      XXX

  3. I am just calling in to wish
    you a Happy Boxing Day Val 🙂

    Andro xxx

  4. I was in the naibourhood and thought I too would drop in an wish you and your family a greeeeaaat christmas.

    see you on the flipside

  5. Stopping in to wish you a very, Merry Christmas to you and hubby!

    xxx

  6. Never owned a gun, never shot a gun, never even crossed my mind to have one. I’m so grateful to be in a country where it isn’t your “god given right” to bear arms and it isn’t part of the culture. Plus the Loon with a gun = 😯

    Fortunately those who do have illegal guns In Australia are usually gangs who are only interested in killing each other. Phew.

    I don’t know what to say. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You will never be able to pry those semi automatics from the fingers of their owners. There will be more mass shootings. Nothing will change.

    What scares me the most is the mindset….. If I have a gun then I’m safe becaue I’ll will just shoot you.

    Anywho, have a wonderful Christmas Valentine . I send you only kind thoughts and a cheeky grin xxxx

    • The wonderfully kind thoughts and the cheeky grin, right back at you Loon.

      I have shot, targets. It is an interesting sport. I don’t own a gun for a very good reason, I considered whether I could take a life and live with myself afterwards; the answer was no. For all those who wander our streets today thinking there are no moral consequences, either they are sociopaths or they are idiots, either way they are dangerous.

  7. This issue is so incredibly complicated that it’ll never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction; at least not in our lifetimes. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone has the facts. Thanks, though, for putting so much of it into perspective – as you usually do.

    • Thanks Alejandro, I tend to disagree though I don’t think it is that complicated. We have a terrible problem with violence in this country, we have to find solutions to stop that violence. Other nations have been able to do so to some degree. Either we are are resigned to higher death tolls or we begin to find solutions.

  8. So much sadness and so many issues to fix… I am glad there are forward thinkers like you Valentine!

  9. Val, I have failed to find out who it was who talked about Gun Sanity/Sensibility on Rachel Maddow. It was not Jonathan Capehart (correct spelling now; wrong guy). I can’t find it. Maybe it was on a different show.

    You would be a powerful spokesperson for our side, Val. Have you tried contacting the Brady folks?

    • No, I did at one time but never heard back. I likely should again. I sent letters to Obama and Biden this past week though. Can’t think of who else to contact frankly, my Tejas representatives are lost causes.

  10. This is an amazing post. (and really…I’m not surprised. I have been waiting for this…and it was well worth the wait). There is no simple answer…outside of “gun sanity” – what a big idea, no? I’m still wrapping my mind around it. Sanity is such an obtuse concept when thrown in front of the U.S. American population. How do we fix this? It NEEDS to get fixed. You outline of ‘solutions’ is exemplary. Now to see how we kick this into motion.

    • I will never understand why the idea of safe and sane is so difficult. I don’t understand why there is so much resistance to sanity. What I am afraid of is left in the hands of the government and their partners in crime, the NRA we will be left exactly where we are.

      I wish the Task Force Joe Biden is leading would talk to people like me. People who actually have a stake in it, people who are actual victims of gun violence and may actually not be extremist. I wish there was a way to get our names in front of him and say, talk to us, read what we write, listen to what we have to say. Stop talking to the lunatics, the extremists on both sides.

      • Let’s think about this, Val.
        First…you are an AMAZING writer with a very powerful voice and I have a big ass mouth.

        Why isn’t there a way some sort of something could happen to get in front of him? I’m very blessed to have lived a fairly protected life and have not been a victim of gun violence and raised with a father who respected, and taught us to respect, firearms. I’m not sure HOW to make this happen, but what you want to say and who needs to hear it aren’t impossibilities. I think we just need to think about strategy. If you want a partner, email me or FB me. WE can figure this out.

        • I wish there was a way, truly I do. You might be surprised, or maybe not. I have actually sent a link to my story to both Joe Biden and Barack Obama. I have sent it to my own Senators and Congressmen. I have sent it to several others on the hill as well. I don’t think voices like mine are welcome. Perhaps we make to much sense, perhaps we are to scary.

          • That’s a good point. Logic. Rationality. Reason. Intelligence. Having a point. Those are all scary things to people in power. The problem is, to be heard, you have to be willing to play the game. To win you have to play hard. The problem is, when you finally start to play hard, you are too caught up in the system to remember why you started in the first place.

  11. So after a week, and after the tolling of the Bell, that Obscenity the NRA have com,e and predictably demanded more guns on the streets, not less. So once every school classroom has arms guards what next? Every store, every McDonalds & Taco bell?, every Hospital and Dental practice?. How about the funeral parlours, and the funerals come to that? If McDonalds, the every restaurant and bar. But then that won’t be enough, because eventualy you must step out the door, so why not armed guards along every street? On every train. In every Taxi. Where does this madness stop.

    We watch from the comfort of the UK, and I have not a single person lately, or in my life who ever suggested it would be a good idea here – even though we had a couple gun masacres.

    Val you are so right, the people of America have sleep walked into this situation. It really is time to wake up and get this turned around. Everything you have suggested in your list above sounds to me like a very good start.

    Well done, you are a brave woman.

    • In times of anguish, many turn to the Bible for help, I turn to poets, like e.e.cummings: He wrote:

      “when man determined to destroy
      himself he picked the was
      of shall and finding only why
      smashed it into because.”

    • Thank you for the e.e. cummings I like that one. I don’t know what the answer is Bill, I only know we have to find one. We have to find sane common sense answers for what is currently neither sane or common. We are in the top four of violent societies, the others are all in Latin or South America, the others are all suffering with terrible drug wars.

      Somehow working across the aisle we have to find some way to work through this.

  12. “The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”—This one disturbed me most of all.

    One would think that given there are 88.8 guns per 100 people in this country, we all own guns. But the majority of guns are owned by a section of the population. The rest of us do not ‘pack heat.’ I can’t remember the exact percentages, but it was recently in USA Today. Let’s hope the high number of us that don’t believe everyone needs a gun to be free can speak loud enough to make a difference.

    • I have the statistics somewhere Carrie, but I believe you are correct. today there are approximately 270,000,000 privately owned guns in the United States (legal and accounted for), this averages to 88.8 per 100 (you can find it in the Guardian link).

      I cherry picked the least offensive of the gun advocate memes. Some of the others made me want to weep. I continue to pound on the door of the White House. My Representatives are all members of the NRA, my Governor believes a gun in the hand of every teacher is the answer. It is hopeless.

      • Has anyone asked these teachers whether they want to carry a gun while working with children? I imagine many of them would say no.

        • That would be my guess as well. As I continue to read some of the social media sites I am stunned by some of the commentary. Only one week later we are back already to denigrating teachers as ‘union thugs’ and ‘lackadaisical whiners’ not worth their minimal pay, certainly not trustworthy enough to hold a gun. Gad, we are hopeless.

  13. Leave it to you, Val, to synthesize the problem and come up with firm, sensible recommendations. Well done.

    Like you, I continue to reel from last week’s blasts. It was so senseless.

    • I am struggling Elyse, this was such a trigger for me. I cannot seem to put things right in my head. I cannot seem to put my emotions back into the box, but I am trying. I just believe most Americans are good people who want a Civil and Sane society. I have to believe that.

      Believing that means those of us who are sane, good and want a civil society simply have to get louder, have to get more vocal.

      • Absolutely. We must. And we must win. But your organized argument is what was missing from the debate. Until now.

        • Now if we could only get my argument and people like me in front of Joe Biden and his task force. I am so afraid Elyse, they will go off half cocked and then fail miserably to reach any consensus. We will get nothing.

          • The other night I was watching RAchel Maddow and Jonathan Capart (sp?) made the best point I’ve heard. “We need to stop talking about ‘gun control’ and start talking about “gun sanity.” That may just make all the difference.

            • Did they say it first?

              • I have no idea. It may certainly be simply that our side has wised up to how effectively they have been using words and catch phrases for a generation.

                But the more the merrier. We need gun sanity. Because what we have now is simply insanity.

              • You know Val, I’ve been thinking since reading your question. I don’t know if they used “sanity” or “sensible”. It was Monday (12/17) I believe. I will go look for a clip if you’d like. I remember thinking “YEAH!” We’ve got to change the terminology so that we can win the debate.

  14. Amen and amen! There is no need for the average citizen to own an assault weapon…no need. Guns scare me, frankly, and I am a felon so I cannot have one anyway, but I know many sane and safe gun owners.

    • Guns scare me as well my friend. Guns in the hands of most people without the proper training scare me to death. There is simply no justification or cause. I know sane and safe gun owners also, they want to live in a safe and sane society too. Strangely not a single one of them believe they need to carry a gun into public places, in a concealed holster as if they were John Wayne.

      I don’t think all felons should be barred from gun ownership by the way. I do think those convicted of violent crimes, including domestic violence should be barred. We have to really rethink some of this.

      Val

      • OneHotMess says:

        Val, I drove drunk, which is my mind a violent crime, yet I was, and never have been violent. Yet, as a felon with OUI’s. I am grouped in the first degree murderers. What I did was wrong….so wrong. I know that. At least I can vote in my state, A lot of things need to change.

        • And so we sit with terrible mistakes, terrible choices judged the same as terrible acts of violence.

          I believe strongly in redemptive justice. I always have, despite my own experience on the other side of the system. Despite my sometime rage. Our system doesn’t work, never has. You and I could likely have a very long discussion about this one.

  15. I agree with everything that you have written here Val and isn’t it crazy how, when the thought of this whole scenario of being able to bear arms was originally based upon a single shot musket, actually it is rather incredible that today’s laws allow the purchase and use of semi-automatic weapons and many other deadly firearms on the basis of a right to bear arms that has not been revaluated for several hundred years.

    It is not rocket science that is needed in which to understand that there is a huge problem regarding the ownership and use of so many deadly weapons, the past week or so showing us how lethal it is to allow this right to bear arms really is, and in the same breath it’s devastating results when a weapon of such a fatal force is unleashed by someone, anyone.

    Your pointers on how a better future could be realised makes perfect sense to me, and hopefully the same indicators will be recognised and acted upon by government bodies, as this is where the first steps towards gun sanity can be achieved, but it will take a nation of even-tempered individuals to make it happen.

    This is a very good posting Val and I have been commenting on more than one concerning this important message, I just hope that some common sense is finally acted upon my great friend.

    Have a lovely Friday Val and Merry Christmas
    and a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2013 🙂

    Andro xxx

    • Thanks Andro, we can only hope those in charge of the Task Force don’t go balls to the walls with ridiculous ideas. We need sanity.

      Have a wonderful holiday and thank you for your thoughts!

      Val

      • You are very welcome Val
        and I hope that your Christmas
        is a truly delightful one also 🙂

        Andro xxx

  16. I noticed your absence, but I had a feel why – so you continue to be in my thoughts for your healing and strength. Yep – with Bible in one hand, Constitution and gun in another, what are they scared of? Oh yes – the tyrannical government is just around the corner. That in itself is sad – very sad … and one reason, along with someone’s interpretation of states rights, why a sensible conversation at the national level will not occur (in my opinion).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • You and I share in the opinion the Task Force will be unlikely to have a sensible conversation or sane results. I wish they would reach out to the community, to people like me and others who have real world experience and real world ideas based on that experience. But no, why do that when you can chase the same ignorance with the same talking heads, time and again.

      I just keep thinking, damn; talk to us would you.

      Thank you Frank, for your thoughts they are very much appreciated. I am okay, better now. I will start to get around again.

      Val

  17. Hi Val, I havent been around much either… ( the affects of this shooting resonated deep within me like a body blow )

    I only hope that in light of such tragedy we can ALL of us around the world try to send out our thoughts in a rational manner.. As terrible as this awful act was at Sandy Hook, Gun laws will not stop those who are being killed daily through violence.. It will not stop those around the world who are suffering through Man’s invention of Weaponry, It will not stop the thousands of children being abused, It will not stop the tortures, the sexual crimes, the horrors of War.. For our Governments will still be using Man made weapons to rule, Our Armies will still be using them to fight ..Our Police systems will still be using them to threaten and protect.

    No… what needs to change…
    Is not Gun Laws..
    But Man’s Hearts and Minds who use them..
    When we all of us start and embrace Peace from within our own inner being, we may then see a change….

    We may only be a small stone within a pond, But if we all of us drop such a stone and send a ripple out into that Conscious Pool of thought.. We may then just create a tidal wave of Love that helps heal our sick world…

    Love to you Val.. Many thanks for ALL of your support this past year..
    Happy Holidays
    Sue

    • We are all of us struggling Sue. This past week was an on-going Trigger for me. I simply could not process, anything. I finally decided I had to pull in, put on my pragmatism and say what was on my mind.

      You are so right, but peace is hard with so much violence in the world. It is one at a time isn’t it.

      Love back Sue.

      Val

      • Val yes its one step at a time… and we can only be responsible for our own steps we take.. Lets make them count!..
        Wishing you a wonderful Weekend Val, May I thank you for your visits over 2012 and Im so pleased to walk a little way with you along our pathways… Its good that they came across each other…
        Happy New 2013 and May it bring Peace within our Hearts so that we can share it and spread it like the ripples upon the pond..
        My wish is that we can all find some Sanity in this mad world we have created…
        Love and Blessings Always Sue xox

  18. Slave and Land holders wrote the Constitution; in fact, within the first ten amendments slavery is ratified. We do occasionally see the error of our ways and correct them, the Constitution was not written on stone tables by a lightning bolt shot from on high.
    I love this sentence so much.

    I honestly hadn’t thought much–or ever, actually–about gun control until last week. Your post has a couple things missing from most the entreaties I’ve seen so far (I haven’t had many anti-gun control show up in my feeds, probably unsurprisingly):

    * Specific proposals
    * A recognition that we must actively work to find middle ground

    I do not categorically fear gun owners right now, although I question the assumption that “more guns” equals “more safety.”

    • Clarification: “work together” as opposed to “have a discussion”

    • Deb, I don’t categorically fear gun owners either. I know several I don’t fear, safe and sane owners. They are different, oddly when I show them my list they tend to agree with anywhere from 90% to 100% of it. Despite my history, I am not anti gun, I simply want some sanity. I want to feel safe in public, I want my grandchild to be safe at school. Truly I don’t believe it is something to be proud of that we have the privately owned guns than some small countries military armaments.

      If we truly want to live in a safe, sane society we must work across all aisles to build a society we can all live in. We must actively work to stem the tide that is ready to engulf us. We have to stop the violence and our love affair with violence. This simply has to end. In part, we have to recognize education, opportunity, poverty all play a huge role in the escalation of violence and we have to start focusing on how to fix the inequities. In the meantime, we have to focus on some Gun Sanity.

      Yes, working together is critical. Now if only we can make that message clear to those we elected to represent us.

  19. Yes. Gun sanity. Thank you for saying exactly what I have been feeling, Val.

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