Sunday Thoughts

If you’re expecting me to offer comment on the recent incidents in Kansas City, Dallas, and in Newtown, Connecticut, you are looking at the wrong person.

Because in light of these events, words can not, and will not describe or depict the images and the accounts that led to these events, that ultimately resulted in deaths.

The problem is, per my nature, I view stories with a different angle.  When I do write out my thoughts, it is my way to sift and sort out what goes on in my mind, and convey those thoughts.

With no good segue, here are a few thoughts.

Firearms, possession and use of them:  the popular theme of the day is about whether or not there should be tighter restrictions on who and how gun can be purchased and used.  I have no issue with that.  It should be self-explanatory.

But herein lies the sticky part.  Many gun owners feel that their right to possess firearms will be impeded on.  The problem is that they are not the ones tighter control is being targeted to.  It is the individuals who:

– have a criminal record

– unstable mental capacity

– have a history or pattern of behavior that could impose a potential serious threat towards society.

These are the groups that, in my opinion, under no circumstances, be allowed to possess firearms of any kind.  On the flip side, there are some firearms owners who are not associated, or solidly agree, with the NRA’s stance that everyone is allowed to own firearms.  There should be better channels to ensure that the most responsible individuals handle and use firearms properly and within the rules in place.

It’s the wrong people that will find any avenue, loophole, or go to any means to acquire a firearm.  We can pass tougher laws, but making it harder to prevent the wrong people from having them isn’t going to stop them…unless we start doing a better job of knowing and understanding how firearms are being acquired, legally and illegally, and knowing how firearms are being used.

Law enforcement and military officers are allowed to use firearms, but even with that, there is no guarantee that a firearm, even in their possession, will be used properly.  Look, smart (and not hell-bent) gun owners who are very responsible, overly cautious, and strongly believe in using safety, do not want weapons to fall into the wrong hands.

Not all of them are gun-toting, trigger-happy, pro-NRA folks.

These are the individuals that law enforcement and officials need to help them better understand the culture and environment of possessing a firearm and to find trends on where, when, and how firearms are being used.

It’s not just gun control:  the United States ranks #1 in most polls and research with respects to incidents involving firearms (that results in injuries and/or death).  Gun control is one thing.  As Bob Costas said several weeks ago, it is a cultural and environmental issue.  Our American society is fascinated with firearms.  We are also our worst enemy when it comes to firearms because all of us think that by having a gun in our hands, our mental psyche gets an ego boost out of it.

All of us, in one way or another, dream of owning a gun and using it.  It makes us feel tough, strong, no one can back us into a corner and threaten us.  Sadly, in our society, it’s much more commonplace to resolve an argument or a fight by firing off a bullet to end it.  It shouldn’t take a mass shooting for us to realize that our cultural mindset is one that has to be questioned.

John Witherspoon, who played Craig’s (Ice Cube) dad in the movie “Friday”, had the most poignant line of the film, when Craig tells him that he had a gun in his possession as protection to walk his friend Smokey to his house.

In my hometown of Waterloo, over a three-week period, two young African-American males were shot and killed.  One by police after he pulled out a gun in a bar and when ordered to put the weapon down, for some reason he didn’t.  The other was shot in a car by an unknown assailant.

Earlier last week, a shooting at a mall near the Portland area claimed two lives.

And yet, as I mentioned, we only pay attention to this issue when children are involved or when a large number of people are in one area, like a theater.

Firearms are used in domestic violence, drug deals gone bad, road rage, when people trespass on “private” property, or by someone so angry they want to take it out on someone else as retaliation.

It’s a sad commentary when we ignore the obvious, until something of a large-scale such as Columbine, Denver earlier this year, and Newtown on Friday.  There have been a recent rash of shootings in Des Moines and in Waterloo, but we treat that as “not our problem”. It didn’t affect us a least bit.  But Newtown, Connecticut is now a problem we care about, since it “affects” us as a society.

I can not accept that line of thinking.  Our American culture needs to reset a button when it comes to the obsession we have towards guns, and a need to not just pass tougher legislation for hopes that it will eliminate or reduce crimes involving firearms.

And no, attacking the NRA isn’t going to change anything, unfortunately.  It’s goes deeper than that.  It’s us…as citizens.

It’s our attitude and mindset when it comes to firearms that needs to be shifted.  By changing our cavalier attitude that a firearm is going solve all of our life’s problems, big or small, will there be any progress towards stopping this runaway train.

Perspective is everyday:  If you need a tragedy, a sad story, or something so shocking, to gain or “put things in” perspective for you, then you didn’t have perspective in the first place.  Perspective is a life-long learning process.  We glean it from everyday life, mundane or active.

The idea that we need a tragedy to give us perspective is folly and weak.  Do you mean to tell me that you haven’t learned anything valuable throughout your life and now a light bulb just went off in your head when something so significant jolts you to the core?

And, if you need a senseless incident to make you go home to hug and kiss your kids, then what in the hell were you doing beforehand?  Walking past them and not saying hello to your kids?  They’re your kids.  You are supposed to hug and kiss your children everyday.  You don’t need a reminder to do that.


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