Most of you know I was born in a really small town in the country. What you might now know is that this means I pretty much grew up surrounded by guns. My dad like all of the other men in my family was an avid hunter. He used to clean his rifles at the dining room table. I still remember the long skinny pole that went down the chamber to clean it as well as the smell of the dark oily stuff he put on it (yes, that’s my technical term, “dark oily stuff.”). I spent hours with my brother running through the brush that was taller than we were with the tip of the gun resting on my dad’s shoulder serving as our guide. I loved it. I should also mention that we ate everything he shot. I know the taste of fresh game well. It’s one that you don’t forget. I had a healthy respect for guns and nearly everyone I knew owned one. Life in the country almost always requires it. It’s not just for hunting purposes, but when you live in the country there are critters big and small both of which might require the use of a weapon to attend to.
I’m comfortable around guns. I know my way around guns. Most of you know I’ve also had a bit of a shall we say- troubled life as well. Someone else having a gun has actually saved my life on more than one occasion.
When I moved down south to go to graduate school, I took an apartment by myself in a pretty rough part of town. I’ve never had the luxury of wealth so I had to make my financial aid dollars stretch which meant I lived in an apartment where drug raids happened next door, people were beat to the point of unconsciousness in the parking lot, and gunshots were a common occurrence. I was a single, white female living alone. It was only a few weeks before I’d secured a gun of my own to keep my safe. And yes, it kept me safe.
So, when everyone immediately jumped to gun control in regard to the horrible tragedy in Newtown, I rolled my eyes at Yancy and said- “C-mon, it’s not that simple.” And I don’t think it’s that simple. The escalating severity and frequency of these mass shootings is disturbing and points to a huge problem that I believe is rooted in systematic failures within our current society centering around much larger issues. There is a huge failure in our mental health system that gun control can’t even begin to touch. We are facing serious demise as a society which these events only seem to showcase. I think the evidence of this continues to be demonstrated with the media’s sensationalism of the event and society’s hypnotic obsession with it.
I shared all of this with Yancy a few nights ago and he had a great response. He said, “You’re totally right. But, let’s face it, the guns make it easier. Let’s not make it so easy.”
And he’s right. I don’t think that the government needs to take away everyone’s guns. The truth is that sometimes guns are needed. Have you ever tried to peacefully negotiate with a big black bear who wandered up onto your deck? I’m just saying. With that being said, there’s got to be ways to safeguard and control access to guns.
Whenever someone is checked into a psychiatric facility, you go through a huge search. Every single piece of anything that could possibly be considered a weapon to hurt one’s self with or somebody else is taken away. In fact, you even lose your shoe laces when you are checked in. Does this mean that nobody ever commits suicide in a psychiatric facility? No. Does this mean that nobody ever hurts another person in a psychiatric facility? No.
But what it does mean is that it is a lot harder to do when you don’t have the means.