Violence -- A Story We Can End

protect our kids not your guns

If my father had kept an ice pick in the left bottom drawer of his desk, I doubt that my brother would have taken it one night and stabbed himself to death. Instead, at 20, in a moment of rage, he picked up the Colt .45 my Dad kept there and shot himself in the head, dying instantly.

It’s oxymoronic that some people actually call this gun a “Peacemaker.”

Most guns, while originally used to shoot animals for food, are used more often today during family arguments, in robberies that lead to murder, suicides, hate crimes, mass shootings, gang revenge killings, and national revenge killings — genocide really — that some justify as “war.” Pistols, AK-47s, machine guns — to me it really doesn’t matter. I don’t like guns.

Then there came the time in 1981 when my grandmother’s next-door neighbor, Dorothy Brady, heard that her son had been hit above the left eye by a bullet shot from a .22. John Hinckley shot my friend, Jimmy Brady, shortly after he’d been chosen as Reagan’s Press Secretary. I spent years growing up at my grandmother’s house and loved Jimmy’s brilliant, funny disposition and his passion for life. My dislike of firearms increased. I had to watch as he recovered from his head wound, but he would never fully heal. He was handicapped mentally and physically for life.

No, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and I think we should make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.

The federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited the manufacture and sale of specific models of military-style guns like the AK47, which can fire up to 300 rounds per minute. After lowering rates of gun death in the U.S. for 10 years, it expired in 2004 but there are currently 10 states with laws restricting assault weapons. In the hands of terrorists, assault rifles can rapidly kill hundreds of people. Why would we want these weapons on our streets? Why would anyone want to hunt a defenseless deer with such a weapon?

Just because something is already legal, doesn’t make it right or a “god-given liberty.” If it were, marijuana would never have been banned. Booze would be illegal. And we’d still have slavery. As humans evolve, and we develop more intelligence, and our needs and liberties change with increasing understanding, one hopes.

Stories from parents who have lost children, or children left fatherless or motherless due to gun violence hit home harder than graphs on paper. Still, firearm homicide rates in the US are 22 times greater than in the European Union. The US has 23 times the rate of firearm homicide seen in Australia.

U. S. Children are more or less brainwashed by the media into liking violence and the use of guns. At the age that children are generally introduced to video games, their young minds still have not yet grasped the difference between reality and fiction.

Guns have been an American pastime for generations. Old TV programs always show the heroes and bad guys in glorious gunfights. Taxi-Driver – hard as it is for me to understand – still has retrospective viewings. I think the movie is a glorification of violence and the negative anti-hero that is just plain sad. I like movies that uplift, not glamorize pathological criminals.

Many people collect guns or use them for hunting. By far the largest category of gun owners is those who use guns for sport. Police and military men use them for protection. Many others use them to kill maliciously.

Where do you draw the line?

The Second Amendment of the Constitution does state that Americans have the right to bear arms. But like so much of the rest of the Constitution, this amendment is always in question legally and politically. Since 2011, the state of California has enforced a 10-day wait for all firearms purchases. Oftentimes, a traumatic event will occur and in the heat of the moment, a person will purchase a gun to either kill themselves or others that they are angry at.

The federal Brady Bill, which requires a seven-day waiting period and a check for prior criminal activity, allows a person to calm their temper before irrational behavior causes them to injure someone else. The Brady Bill isn’t perfect, and some of its early mandates were ruled unconstitutional, but it’s a major step in reducing the number of murders and suicides in America.

Stricter laws do have an effect on gun crime. In the two years after an introduction of a waiting period in Massachusetts, gun homicide went down in Boston by 55.7%.

There are many factors that gun control laws cannot prevent. I read once about an interview with Allen Baker, a student at a university whose best friend was killed by a shotgun in December of 1996. The gun that was used in the incident was owned by the young man who was killed! A family member walked into the house, picked up the gun and loaded it, and shot Allen’s friend in the chest. The young man bled to death before help could arrive.

Allen’s face appeared to get pale as he described to the interviewer the amount of blood he witnessed on the floor when he walked around the murder scene the next day. For gun control activists, this crime should bring about a ban on all weapons. For organizations such as the NRA, this crime simply represents that guns don’t kill people, but people kill people. The question raised is how to prevent gun crimes, like the one above, from happening in the future.

The right to bear arms is one of the principles our nation was founded under, but more importantly, Americans have the right to life. Excessive gun violence takes that right away from all of us, and it leaves us traumatized and feeling hopeless. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can create a different story.

I say let’s stop the easy acquisition of guns, make people go through background checks, have a month-long waiting period, and a psychological evaluation, and then if they go through a day-long workshop on gun safety, they can own a gun. This is even stricter than the Brady Bill, but hey, once you’ve had the experiences I have, you learn to be very cautious.

And I do think we should ban nuclear weapons, assault helicopters, all forms of killing. Killing is wrong. War is bad. Truth is good. Kindness is king. Intelligence can stop more crime than guns ever will, over the long haul, and I think we can apply our natural intelligence to the situation without resorting to the bully vocabulary of hate-words.

I don’t like when somebody accuses me of having “liberal trash ideas” or my friends of “lying their asses off.” It’s that kind of assaultive language that, on a continuum, is the emotional equivalent of the abusive and aggressive weapons usage we’re talking about.

Maybe a lot of bad people live in your world, in your mind. Many more good people live in mine. And these are the kinds of people — ones who are trying to make good things, positive visions, safe societies, and more happiness – who will thrive. The gun-lovers and hate-mongers will probably hate and kill each other to the very end.

Violence begins with fear in the human heart. We can attenuate it through love in the human heart. Sensible gun control is an act of love that could have saved my brother Mike and my friend Jim Brady.

It’s too late to save them, but not too late to save more children, our brothers, sisters, and friends, and create a future where violence like today’s is a story from the ancient past.

Realized by Marya in 2003, revised May 9, 2023

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