I started writing this in October of 2017, after the Las Vegas murders. After listening to high school students make speeches that will undoubtedly be taught to future students this past week, I decided to post it after all. It was too depressing back then, and the story left the media relatively quickly in the wake of so many other scandals (oh, and the holidays). Here we go again. I am confused, dumbfounded, and depressed by the gun debate. Common sense seems to have eluded us.

The pro-NRA arguments that I cannot get my head around are these:
1. First it’s semi-auto weapons, next it’ll be all guns. (Nobody I know is calling for that.)
2. Cars are just as deadly as guns. (Possibly true, but cars have a primary use that is pretty common and accepted as okay in society. Guns do not.)
3. More armed people would limit casualties in situations like this. (Purely hypothetical, based on lots of assumptions. First on that list, is the good guy with a gun prepared to murder a kid? Second, is (s)he carrying everywhere (s)he goes, every day? Third, what if the active shooter is aware of the armed personnel and focuses on them first? Also, is the good guy a pretty good aim? Because accidentally killing someone is just as permanent as purposefully doing so.)
4. It’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue. (Then why ease up the law and allow people with mental health issues easier access to weapons? Why lower corporate taxes and regulations to help the big pharma companies continue to thrive and expand? Why fight tooth and nail to remove Obamacare with no reasonable alternative, which was intended to help the folks traditionally slipping through the cracks to get help prior to a catastrophe? Also, maybe the difference is that even the armies didn’t use automatic weapons 100 years ago.)
5. Kids are being brought up without discipline. (I actually read this on a friend’s Facebook feed. So, the [list any of the recent shootings] killer should have been spanked more? That would solve the problem? Unbelievable.)

Here’s the October post:
If it’s not apparent by now, I’m pretty liberal. To me, that means that I’m open to new ideas and looking for ways for progress to occur. Progress, to me, means making things better for everyone. How that looks is where I believe I differ from conservatives.

I seek out logical, sane arguments for conservative thoughts because I recognize that there are merits to them, and they represent a significant voting populace. Whether I agree or not, I want to understand the ideas. What I typically find is that there are just a few “line in the sand” issues; the majority of issues are shades of gray.

There are numerous polls showing that most Americans would like to see universal health care. How that looks/works is a matter of debate, but I feel like that’s the will of the public. I can’t imagine the majority of Americans is in favor of individuals owning weapons of mass destruction, like the AR-15. In my opinion, if you feel you need an AR-15 to be safe, you should either be enrolled in the military or actively seeking therapy.

Also, I do not advocate getting rid of all guns, although I can see the merits. It’s difficult to imagine a militia that could take on the US armed forces at this point, so at least part of the 2nd amendment is on unstable footing in the modern world. (For better or worse.) At a minimum, though, it shouldn’t be so difficult to make it harder for people with a criminal history, a mental disorder, or a paranoia so strong that only a weapon with an auto-loading magazine can protect them to get guns.

This is where universal health care and gun control intersect, I believe. One of the early tenets of the ACA that Obama tried to publicize was the focus on preventative care. Politics aside, I’d think at some point we’d start looking at this as a nation, too. Why do we have so many of these episodes lately? Was there a way that this could have been avoided? If it is, indeed, a mental health issue, we should address that, but it’s not A or B. We should be looking at all aspects of these shootings and be horrified and ready to do whatever it takes to make it stop.

Where I differ most from conservatives that I see/hear in the media is in the idea of protecting myself ahead of the public interest. I don’t have a gun and don’t want a gun, but I don’t begrudge others from safely, responsibly owning one. But that gets down to subjective interpretation. Owning a gun for protection ostensibly means that you are willing to assess a situation under duress and act on it – potentially taking someone’s life – without due process. And again, there is no home-invasion scenario where a platoon of marauders enters and an AR-15 is the only option.

Stricter gun control laws might not have stopped this psychopath from killing, but it might have made the impact less devastating.