"An empty man is full of himself." -- Edward Abbey

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What the Future Holds

     Whew! Well, that's over and done with. I'm good for another five years.

     The strangest thing happened on our way out of the medical office. As we exited the elevator, we ran into a friend of mine. He moved to the city a few years ago after he got divorced, but still comes out here to the suburbs to see the doctor. He was just going in for his physical. (I asked him later how it went. He frowned and said, "My doctor wants me to lose weight." I told him: "Well, just get yourself a fatter doctor!")

     Half a minute later, in the lobby, we saw a woman I used to work with. Hadn't seen her in at least five years. We exchanged startled hellos, and briefly caught up on what we'd been doing. I don't know what she was there for, but she looked happy enough, and so it couldn't have been anything serious.

     Then before we even got to the parking lot, we saw our dance instructor, who was coming in to the facility with her mother. More surprised hellos, and quick catching up.

     Is this what happens when you get older -- you see all your friends at the doctor's office?

      Anyway, B and I have already made a date, for December 2017, for our next colonoscopy. But, I wonder, will we still be living here then? Will we be somewhere else? But at least it's likely that we'll be alive.

     It seems embarrassingly petty and self-centered to be worrying about a possible polyp in my colon when 20 little kids are being shot and murdered up in Connecticut. What are my problems compared to theirs? Just think of the lives cut short, the horror the parents must be going through. Our hearts obviously go out to them.

     My brother-in-law would say that if more people were armed, then maybe these things wouldn't happen. Somebody with a gun might have stopped the shooter; and besides, if the shooter knew there was a good chance he'd run into someone who'd shoot back, maybe he wouldn't try to kill these kids and their teachers in the first place.

     My brother-in-law spent 20-plus years in the military, and I know he owns at least one gun -- he showed me his license once -- and is comfortable carrying a lethal weapon. He's a conservative who believes in individual freedom and personal responsibility, and the right to carry arms. He talks the conservative line in general, and since he's a mature, responsible person his outlook works pretty well for him. And honestly, for the most part I respect his beliefs. I even share some of them, at least to some reasonable extent. I certainly don't think he's a stupid kuckledragger -- the way a lot of liberals think of people who don't agree with them.

     But I do think my brother-in-law is wrong on guns.

     How can anyone seriously think that arming more people would prevent incidents like the one in Newtown, Conn.? We're not in the wild west anymore -- and besides, that wasn't such a safe place anyway. Is a civilian really going to pull out his gun and confront a killer? And if he did, how would he fare against a shooter who's wearing combat gear and carrying semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle?

     Did any armed bystander pull out a gun and stop the killing in Tucson in Jan. 2011? Or in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012? Or at Virginia Tech in July 2007?

     No, instead we hear news like we did last week, of a man in Pennsylvania who accidentally shot and killed his son in the parking lot of a gun store. He thought the gun was not loaded.

     It's time to interpret the 2nd Amendment in the light of the 21st century, instead of the 18th century, to make sure we keep semiautomatic guns out of the hands of people who are mentally disturbed, or even just careless. Would it be that horrible to require people to be trained and licensed before they could shoot a gun? After all, we don't hesitate to require that of people who drive an automobile. Would it be that horrible to register guns, like we do automobiles, and require owners be responsible for them and to carry liability insurance?

     And while we're at it, do we have to all be so resentful and angry all the time? Do we have to call people nasty names when they don't agree with us? Do we have to be so aggressive when we're on the road and cloaked in the anonymity of our cars? Do we have to beat people up (as they did in Michigan last week) when they vote on legislation we don't like?

     I think we all need to be a little less self-centered, a little more caring of others, a little less insulting to people who don't agree with us. Let's do it for the kids.


Arkansas Patti said...

So glad the test is over and you are good to go.
I feel the same about guns. Why not licensing? Also assult weapons have no business in civilian hands. They are designed for one reason, to kill people, not to tear up targets or game. Hopefully we get laws with teeth so this doesn't happen again.

Dick Klade said...

Lots of my friends and associates are pro-gun rights like your BIL, so my views aren't popular with them. However, it is just plain honest common sense that ordinary citizens have no reason to possess automatic or semi-automatic weapons of any kind. And a good case can be made that the best defensive weapon to have in your home, if you believe you need one, is a shotgun. Therefore, possessing a handgun of any type is questionable.

There really is no legal conflict regarding gun control. The constitutional amendment allows ownership, but it says absolutely nothing about the type of arms permitted. Nor does it say a word about controls.

We could do something sensible about gun control. What we lack are politicians with the courage to act.

Rubye Jack said...

"Mother Jones" did a study and subsequent article on the correlation of more guns and more mass murders. Of course it is a liberal magazine but can you imagine a conservative magazine even thinking about such a study. If you're interested, here's the link -- http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation

#1Nana said...

We have guns...lots of them. The spouse is a hunter and shoots trap. It's his hobby. I'm a liberal, but I don't think restrictions on guns is the answer. I don't think putting prayer in schools is the answer either. I'm irritated that the discussion immediately goes to the hot topics of gun control, school competence, and prayer in schools. I'm offended by the posts about the reason for increases in school violence is that God isn't allowed in schools. Let's give it a rest and mourn our losses.

Janette said...

Would you consider posting the same thing about the video games this particular age group is in love with??? It totally desensitizes them.
How about our treatment of mental illness. We know these kids are sick---and yet ---we have no real treatments and certainly will not "take away their rights" to roam free"?
Conn has extremely aggressive gun laws. Some of the most strict in the nation.
Most of the recent shootings have been in very liberal states.
I DO think that there should be greater restriction on guns---but I do NOT think guns are the cause of mass killings. That has to do with something we are not willing to deal with....

Tom said...

Janette, I don't know about the effects of violent video games, but you might have a point. And Nana, do you need semiautomatic weapons to shoot deer and trap? Besides, no one is asking you to give up your guns, just to reveal that you have them, and to be responsible for them.

I know that guns don't kill people. People kill people. But guns, and esp. semiautomatic rifles, make it a lot easier to kill people. No one's going to commit mass murder with their fists or a knife, or even a musket. But it's heartening to see we can voice our opinions without threatening one another or calling each other names. I still think that's important, but increasingly rare, esp. in the media and on the Internet.

Jono said...

Gun control is a great idea, but I am pretty sure it's too late. There are millions of them out there and available to anyone who wants one. We do too little for mental health care and many people fall through the many large cracks. I don't have a good answer, but with 10,000 (100 per day) people being shot to death every year in this country we might just want to look into the causes.

Douglas said...

What do we know, at this point, about the guns used in the shootings at Sandy Hook? They were the shooter's mother's guns. A rational, we are to believe, adult. We already have restrictions on gun purchases that cover felons, domestic violence offenders, and mental illness. Should we extend that to "having a child or children with mental impairments of any kind?" Is that workable?

There is only one way to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them and that is to completely ban them. That worked well with alcohol and drugs, didn't it?

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

Great responses. I agree with much of what Dick said, but have little hope that the crazy people will not find guns. Dianne

Jono said...

Pardon my arithmetic, but it's really about 27 per day, not 100. It is still more than one per hour on the average.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

You are very right about the idea of changing with the times!

stephen Hayes said...

A very thoughtful and well-written post. I read it twice and couldn't agree with you more.

JHawk23 said...

I'm also in general agreement. And I also have one of those brothers-in-law (does everybody have one?) who owns a lockerful of guns, is an avid hunter, in fact kills all his own meat. And I rerspect his right to do that, but at the same time, he too readily accepts the NRA mantra that no gun, no type, can ever be controlled no how.

As for the notion that we should arm our school principals and teachers, it's plain ridiculous. The last place we need extra guns lying around (inevitably, somebody would forget to lock them up) is at a school.