I’m Sick! (WARNING: NON-Baseball Post)

Writer’s Confession:

Often times, when we have an idea or issue so close to us, we get very scatter-brained and our best intentions and thoughts get lost behind a perceived “mad-man’s writing.”  This is not because we are actually crazy, irrational, or lacking proper writing technique; instead, it is because that idea, that issue that is so dear to our heart gets our brain going quicker than our fingers.  Quite simply, we have no way of capturing exactly what we want to say because it all comes at once.

So I apologize if the post below appears to be the work of a person who needs psychological help – this topic just really gets me going.  And on the off chance that it is easily followed and semi-logical in form, I give my brain and fingers a simultaneous high-five.

Topic:

Guns.

If you think, “Oh no, here we go again.  Another nutter with his opinions on the second amendment…”, then well, you’re right.

Good News Everyone

The first amendment guarantees the right to debate this topic and allows me to write this blog (baseball, mental health, music, or gun control being the wide varieties of topics covered).

But before I get too deep into the whys and hows, I feel it is right and fair to tell my own history with guns.

Tony and Guns (the short story):

I have spent all but 6 months of my life living in Minnesota.  Heck, even the other six months (albeit as an infant) were spent in South Dakota.  So do you know what that means?  Hunting in huge; guns are common.  In fact, growing up in my family – one that historically lived in the rural areas of the Midwest – meant that you would probably, at some point in your life, end up going hunting.  I did.

I went hunting a few times – pheasant, deer, and even duck, I think – which meant that I had to gain a license in gun safety.  Since most children are handed down morals that are formed from their parents and other close members of their family, I was under the assumption that gun safety was helpful and adequate and that hunting was a normal part of recreational activity.

My family, when looking back, would probably call me “sensitive” or, even more blatantly, “soft.”  Early on, I wrestled with the idea of having to take a life in order to have a successful hunt.  I understood the thrill and the challenge, but after the adrenaline wore off and the literal “smoke cleared” I just felt sad.  I saw the animal, lifeless from my actions, and couldn;t help but feel an overwhelming guilt.

***Please note, my next point I bring up is NOT directly related to gun control or current gun laws, but rather something that personally ties it all together for me.***

After choosing to not hunt anymore (and cowardly running away from those who asked me to, instead of telling them the truth), I kept eating meat for many more years.  Animals dying no longer on my hands felt much more… digestible.  But finally, after some questioning from my wife and the flirtation with vegan-ism, did I finally extinguish the practice of killing ANYTHING all together.

Again, by NO means am I saying the being vegan trumps gun control and gun issues, not a chance.  They are two separate ideas and issues all together.  Tying animal cruelty, climate change, and even personal health reasons to gun control is like comparing beef to pears (i.e. it only works in a culinary sense, not political).  However, this tale of my path to becoming vegan underlines a few things clearly, my pacifism, activism, and compassion towards others.  I gave up things, things that I enjoyed or took as “freedoms” because I knew that in the end they just were not right – whether for me personally or for the greater good of others.

Current Tony:

  • Does not own a gun.
  • Does not kill animals.
    • subsequently, does not kill humans
  • Believes some freedoms may actually limit humanity/human life.
  • Wants change – this needs to be done politically and with more supporters behind the cause.

Why Do I HATE Guns:

Quite simply, they kill people.*

*OK, OK.  Guns do NOT actually kill people.  The person behind the gun is the one making the active choice and putting the mechanical mechanisms into action in order to perpetrate the action of killing.

More accurately, guns have made it exponentially easier to kill people – and kill more people in a quicker time than possible throughout 99% of human history.

“But there are more good people with guns than bad.  Why punish those who do not break laws and uphold the second amendment?”

For the same reason why we have any other law.  The majority of people do not rob banks, do not sell drugs, and do not go 80 in a 30.  However, laws were built against those things in order to protect people.  Whether it was a huge epidemic (like drunk driving was – and sadly still is) or a rare instance (like robbing a bank actually is), actions took place to curb them from happening again.  While we haven’t fully taken away automobiles to prevent auto crimes from happening, gun control faces a much different reality/problem.

Being reactive to gun crime means the near certainty of the loss of lives.  Speeding or even drunk driving does not result in imminent death, but gun crimes tend to have a much more grim outcome.  So if we decide to keep guns in everyone’s hands because the “majority are not breaking the law” then we also submit to the countless number of criminals who do not follow the rules and we are bound to their ultimate fate… loss of life.

“But the second amendment guarantees us the right!…”

Yes, and it is called an AMENDMENT.  The laws of the land were not given to us by some all-known god, nor were they modeled with the entirety of known future civilization ahead.  The Constitution was made by those with the greatest power (rich, white men from the 1700s) and then has needed revisions throughout history (amendments – also made by predominantly rich, white men, but this time from 1789 to 1971, with salary revisions – 27th amendment – being updated in 1992).  What I am trying to convey is that the Constitution is not written in stone and can be/shall be updated when issues arise.  And yes, we have had amendments then be nullified down the road.  So why can;t we touch the second amendment?

I would even go so far as to say that the intent was written in order to prevent tyrannical government, so the citizens having the right (not MANDATE) to bear arms was crucial to stopping an 18th century ruler.  However, nearly 200 years later, we now stand (as citizens) against governments with nuclear weapons, tanks, drones, etc.

Tell me, how well do you think your gun will defend you against those pieces of weaponry attacking “you and your family”?  And are you also saying that you believe all citizens should have the right to the same level of weaponry as the governments?  Imagine those mentally ill that you get mad about for giving gun owners a bad name.  Now think about them having a nuclear warhead.  Sure, they’d have to be rich, but is that being the only thing stopping them in this scenario going to let you fall asleep comfortably in that world?

So maybe the amendment needs to read something like this instead: “those protecting the nation in active duty, whether against foreign nations or its own internal, civil war, shall have the right to bear arms.”

(This is a concession, being a pacifist at heart, but one I am ultimately will to give.  Heck, history gave us a sad lesson of a time when war was seemingly the only option to save lives, World War II – the anti-holocaust measures.)

“Taking away guns will only leave them in the hands of criminals.”

While I agree with the logic behind it and can see that we have dug ourselves a terribly huge hole with the amount of guns owned in this nation, it still does not excuse the absolute and dire need to make swift and radical changes.

It is now that I would like to mention Australia and what they did with their gun issue.  Google it: Port Arthur massacre.

I do not know and cannot speak with all-knowing knowledge of the situation or detail all the numbers that can be shared from this tragedy, but I know one thing…  THEY DIDN’T WAIT FOR MORE TRAGEDIES TO HAPPEN!

Australia took a drastic measure after this huge mass murder and decided to ban guns all together.  I’d be willing to bet that some responsible gun owners were not just bummed, but royally pissed off.  But as a country they came together politically and decided to take action.  Was it perfect?  Nope.  I am sure they still have a few murders using guns, but did the number of gun-related deaths (and gun crimes in general) fall?  Shockingly, YES!  (Sorry, I used “shockingly in a sarcastic manner.)

We have a much more gun-saturated and more heavily populated country than Australia, so we might have to go about things a little differently, but why not try?  Programs to get guns off the street take time and even tax dollars, but would we rather spend tax dollars to prevent murders or to house murders for years/life in jail?

“How are you going to go from a land of guaranteed gun rights to ‘no guns allowed’ overnight?”

Maybe you cannot realistically do that.  What we have to do now is stop debating and start putting real, hard laws in place.  Maybe it is not a sweeping ban like Australia like I would like.  But to go back and forth screaming “ALL” or “NOTHING” does us no good.  Look at what the last few years have taught us – we are on pace for a mass killing each day in the United States, far exceeding any “first world” country.  We have to do something, we have to start saving ONE life.  The end game, in my scenario, should be total removal of all firearms in the country, but that doesn’t mean we can;t start with the smallest of measures – increased registration and permits for guns – in order to see if we can shift the numbers towards a generally safer country.

My urge to the parties is simple (overly general, but still simple):

  • Republicans – stop accepting NRA money and start making laws for the good of your citizens.
  • Democrats – do not say that you will settle for nothing less than the banning of all firearms.  Small changes backed up with hard data is what is needed.

For those who wish to see which politicians are accepting NRA money, a link is provided HERE.

Whether you are a politician, activist, or “plain ol’ citizen” I ask you to rank these two freedoms:

  • The right to bear arms.
  • The right to live a full life.

For me, I have chosen to live over needing a gun.

Conclusion/What To Do:

Vote.  An informed vote is the most basic and fundamental thing you can do.  If you do not like a major party, find an alternative.  If you do not like anyone on the ballot, submit yourself.  If you honestly have no other options, then abstain.

Contact your representatives.  After seeing the list of NRA-funded politicians, I will now be contacting those from my state to share my frustration and disappointment.  As with any issue, tell them how you feel.  It may go nowhere, but if that is the case, then you can either choose to vote differently in the next election or…

Petition.  If your voice is not being heard on a singular level, and you have the support of others around you, gather your voices into one larger, louder voice.  Petitions are not a guaranteed way of being heard, but they have had more recognition from politicians and/or media than sole ideas/voices.

Fund.  If you have a lot of money and if the current (and broken, in my view) laws of funding parties/candidates remains the same, then set up ways to fund your cause and give money to the politicians in office.  It worked for the NRA, right?  Why not counter-attack?

Do not go silent.  Lastly, and most importantly, do not let your voice go silent.  Unfortunately we are bound to our representatives in order to have laws made and changes take place, but those changes cannot start without our voices being active.  If someone says nothing, then how are they heard?  I wrestled long and hard with the idea of even posting this on my blog.  “It’s not about baseball… It’s too political… It will get people upset… No one reads this, so what does it matter…”  All of those things ran through my brain – and still do – but this issue is actually important to me.  I have anxiety and I wrote about that (no matter how hard/uncomfortable that was)… and funny enough that anxiety is fueled by my fears of death.

I don’t want to die.  If I can even empathize 1% of that anxiety/pain/torment to someone other than myself, then how frightening is it that 2-3 people died at the hands of a person with a gun as I wrote this?!

(Citation: CDC link to gun-related homicides in 2013.  Roughly 30.7 per day die as gun-related homicide.  It took me over 2 hours to write this.)

How can I sit back and keep the current way of life when that many people die?  Am I waiting until I become part of that number?  *anxiety rising*

America, we can do better…

Homicides

(PS:  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Have more to say or care to let your voice be heard?  I urge you to actually comment on this post.  It’s a very small portion of the internet to let your voice be heard, but it’s still an outlet none-the-less.  Anything less than a civil debate will be deleted, however.  This does not mean I will censor to show only those who agree, but I will not tolerate bullying and immature comments on either side of the fence.  We have the right to discuss this intelligently, let’s take the opportunity.)

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