The Blame Game

You may or may not have noticed, but I tend to wait a little while before talking about things that happen in our society.  This isn’t because I’m a procrastinator (I am) or because I don’t like writing about things like this (I don’t), but just because I like to wait awhile.  It gives me time to try to think objectively about things, and digest the stories and reports that spawn out of tragedies. Mostly, it lets me write a little more calmly.

The shooting at Sandy Hook in Connecticut happened a little less than a week ago.  I won’t rehash the whole thing.  You know all about it.

The blame started almost immediately, and it’s still going strong.

Some of the blame is obvious.  The guy who went in there and shot all those babies is to blame.  That’s an easy one.

But it isn’t all so easy.

Almost as soon as the story broke, the gun debate started.  My first reaction to the gun debate was disgust.  If you want to know part of what’s wrong with our society, consider the fact that when a news story broke that twenty babies were laying dead in their elementary school from multiple gunshot wounds, the first response of many was to promote their political cause.  It wasn’t just the gun nuts or the gun haters–it was both.  It was the Christians and the non-Christians. They all sat back and looked down their noses and wagged their heads just like the guys walking past Jesus on the Cross.  They gave their respective reasons as to why this happened and how if their respective ideas had been followed all along, this wouldn’t have happened.

They make it sound so easy.

Here’s the thing–it isn’t easy.  How I wish that there was some sort of concrete answer as to why this happened, how it could have been prevented, and how it could be prevented from ever happening again.  But the answer isn’t in black and white.  Here are a few of the things I’ve heard from many sources, and my problems with them.

  • Ban assault weapons: Well, okay.  In all honesty, I’ve never really understood why anyone needs a semi-automatic rifle.  Also, I totally see the point about how quickly they can fire and how difficult and dangerous this makes the situation for law enforcement to fight back.  But at the same time, if you look at it statistically, how many people own these weapons, and how many are used in mass murders?  It’s a microscopic percentage.  Is that really the problem?
  • Ban all guns: This one makes me kind of sad.  People like to talk about the second amendment, which gives us the right to bear arms and form a militia to protect ourselves from an oppressive government.  Like most good ideas in this culture, we take it, rape it, beat it till it’s bloody, then hang it in the town square for all to see. We stretch the boundaries until the original spirit of the idea is long gone.  I feel this way about our right to bear arms.  We are never satisfied.  Having said that, I am also a gun owner.  I have a hidden handgun, and quite frankly, I am not comfortable giving it up.  I’m not sure how that fits in to everything I just said, but it’s just the truth.
  • Give the teachers a gun: This one bugs me.  I really can’t look at this one objectively, because I think it’s ridiculous.  I know a lot of teachers, and not one of them would be willing to carry a gun in their school.  If nothing else, think of the liability!  They aren’t cops.  Someone mentioned the principal having a gun.  Well, fine.  But here’s a little dose of reality for you.  Real life is not like in the movies, when the citizen shoots the bad guy right between the eyes on the first shot and saves the day.  Can you imagine, as an ordinary, non-gun-toting citizen, being in an OK Corral style shootout in a school building?!  As a parent, I just don’t know about this.  It’s not that I think the teacher would do something bad, but the fact is they are teachers, not cops.
  • Have a cop or security person at each school: Lots of places do this already.  While I think it doesn’t hurt, when a person comes to do the kind of damage this guy in Connecticut did, I’m not sure what would happen.  I like to think it would have made a difference, but I don’t know.
  • Bullet-proof glass:  I don’t mind this one so much.  He shot his way in because they wouldn’t buzz him in.  Bullet-proof glass would have prevented that.  But I don’t know much about bullet-proof glass–can it be compromised?  Could he have, say, driven his car through the wall to get through?  I just don’t know.
  • Bring back the death penalty/hanging/torture/an eye for an eye, etc.:  This one is especially sad.  A man goes into a situation with the full intent of ending his rampage by blowing his own brains out–do you really think the death penalty scares him?

I guess my point is just that I don’t know what you can do if someone is determined enough to do something terrible like this.  I don’t know how it can be prevented.  Even with mental health care revisions, it isn’t fool-proof.

You can argue about God, and how we’ve turned out backs on him, and this is what happens.  You can say evil is loose in the world.  But here’s a news flash for you–evil has always been loose in the world.  As humans, we are set apart from all other living things on Earth by our intellect, and our free will.  This gives us the capacity for great goodness.

It also gives us the capacity for great evil.

So, whose fault is it?  I would say it’s mine.  And yours.  And our parents.  And our grandparents……..back and back and back forever.  So how do we fix it?  I don’t know.

I don’t know.


Gun Culture

I’m not going to get into the whole parenting issue again, or talk about the laptop shooting dad, but rather an issue that I noticed while reading the many, many comments on my blog and others.

Lots of people were completely put off by the fact that the dad shot the laptop.  A good blogging friend of mine made the comment that to her, all of the validity of his point was lost the moment that dad pulled out the gun.  Several of the other comments were along the same line, and that made me stop to think about my own reaction to the gun.

I really didn’t have one.

That got me thinking.  I don’t think I’m right and the people who were disturbed by the gun were wrong.  I just think we’re different.

Let me get one thing out in the open–I’m not one of those so-called “gun enthusiasts” who hunt ducks with automatic weapons.  I don’t know why someone needs to own an AK47 (or whatever.)  Waiting periods and background checks don’t upset me.  Hunter education and firearm safety are fine ideas as far as I’m concerned.

So no, I’m not a gun nut….er….enthusiast, but I’m also not bothered by guns.  That’s because I live in a gun culture.

I’m in southern West Virginia.  If you think West Virginians are a bunch of gun-toting rednecks in pickup trucks, well, you’d be right.  I could personally shoot a shotgun, rifle, and handgun by the time I was eleven years old.  Most of my family was the same.  I was a tomboy, but even the “girly” girls around here have probably still been exposed to guns often during their lives.  There are guns in our house, and my own son can shoot and handle them well.  It’s just something that I’ve never really thought about.

But I guess to some, the thought of living in a house with numerous firearms is very alarming.  I remember meeting a dad on one of my many trips to Bethesda with my daughter.  He was a nice man from Baltimore, and he was talking about some problems with crime they were having in a neighborhood very near to his own.  We started chatting about where we lived, and about crime, and I mentioned that I could use a handgun and sincerely hoped no one would ever break into our house.  He was surprised that I even had a gun, let alone that I knew how to shoot it.  I told him pretty much every household in our whole region had a gun in it.  He sort of sniffed, and then said in this really snotty voice, “Well, I’m glad I don’t live there.”  I just shrugged.

I thought it was odd that he had just been telling me he was afraid he was basically going to be murdered in his bed, but the thought of having a gun in his house appalled him.

We have guns here.  Our kids see them all the time, and they aren’t impressed.  It’s no big deal.  There’s no mystery or intrigue, just knowledge and a healthy respect.  Of course there are idiots who break the law and do stupid things, but you don’t have to travel all the way to West Virginia to see that.

That’s why when the dad in the video pulled out his pistol and shot up the laptop, I wasn’t shocked.  There were other things in the video that shocked and upset me, but the gun wasn’t one of them.

Like I said, I don’t think I’m right and anyone who feels differently is wrong.  From my point of view, it’s no different from the way anybody reacts to things they aren’t used to.  It’s understandable.  There are habits and mannerisms in other states and cities that I’ve been to that were very off-putting to me.  It’s hard to refrain from passing judgement on people for those things.  But you have to realize that what you see as strange may just be the cultural norm for that person.  Stop and consider the things that you might do that others would think of as strange.  You might be surprised.

I’ll leave you with some advice.  Don’t be too quick to judge someone.  Stop to think about whether or not what they are doing is wrong, or just different.

Oh, and think twice before you break into my house.



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