Help Me Understand

December 16, 2012 in Op-Ed by apleau

It’s easy to sit here and type out my opinions. It’s easy to let the rage and frustration I feel take over and shut myself off from the world until the latest tragedy becomes old news and we’re back to talking about Anne Hathaway’s crotch shot at a premiere or Lindsay Lohan’s legal troubles. I debated what I was going to write today. I’ve struggled with writing as of late, because I am not in a place to write funny and happy things. I’ve felt exhausted talking about issues, because there are too many people who don’t want to have a conversation.  They want to scream and plug their ears until they have their way. It’s just too much some times.

Suddenly, here we are. As I read my Twitter and Facebook feeds responding to a national tragedy, I realize that there is a way of thinking in this country I simply cannot comprehend. I need to understand this:

Help me understand why you think the real solution to preventing a tragedy is to arm kindergarten and first grade teachers.

I keep seeing this over and over. See, in my mind, I separate the right to bear arms from a mandate to bear arms. When I imagine a world where a kindergarten teacher feels they must carry a gun on them while they standing in front of a class of 5 and 6 year-olds in a suburban, sleepy Connecticut elementary school – and in this case, it would need to be a gun that could defend against a person in a bulletproof vest armed with a semi-automatic weapon – I don’t see a world of Freedom or Apple Pie or a God Blessed America with a Right to Bear Arms and a cherry on top; I see a world that is in a lawless, militant state; a state where no place is safe and every house has a panic room with steel walls that are a foot thick.

Why do I see this?

Because any world where a kindergarten teacher feels that they must arm themselves in order to go to work is a world where gun ownership is not a right, but a mandate. It is a world where a sweet 27 year-old with a winning smile and a gentle soul has to strap on a Glock in case a day of fingerpainting is disrupted by the possibility of engaging a madman in a gunfight. Wow. We really want to go there?

Since we’re all a fan of slippery slopes, answer me this question: say we allow teachers to bring guns to school. Say some of those teachers and administrators don’t believe in owning guns and choose to not carry. Say a gunman still enters the school and guns down people.  If the “fault” of the latest massacre is not allowing a person to bear arms in a school, who is at fault when an individual chooses not to carry? Before you bring up the argument of “well, derp, nice try, but someone would carry and they would Wyatt Earp that crazy mother fucker and shoot him down before anything happens,” let me remind you of something:

Several people had the right to carry a gun at the event where Jared Loughner shot and killed a number of people in Tucson. At that event, people either made the choice not to carry, or in the chaos, people forgot they were carrying or felt it would be ineffective. Keeping this in mind, can we agree that MOAR GUNZ isn’t really a solution?

While on this subject, I need your help understanding one other thing: Why is it when any challenge is brought up in regards to waiting periods, limits on arming those who are severely mentally ill, or simply disagreeing with a MOAR GUNZ philosophy, it is automatically assumed that people want to repeal the 2nd amendment?

Newsflash: Most people in this country don’t want to repeal the 2nd amendment. Check out the polls. It’s not going to happen. The problem is, we can’t even start the conversation about what we can do in a civil manner without the NRA cock-blocking the discussion with hyperbole, rhetoric and fear-mongering.  Can’t we have a civil conversation about this? Can’t we discuss why pro-gun advocates hate having a small waiting period before purchasing their guns, and why someone like me sees waiting periods as completely benign? Can’t we sit down together and attempt to come up with a solution that does not infringe upon the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping guns out of the hands of those who intend to use these guns to take away the rights of others?

Unfortunately, we all know the answers to these questions. For those who are responsible gun owners who do not want their rights infringed upon, I will tell you this: if you can come up with solutions that do not involve mandating gun ownership – be it developing a health care system that better supports the mentally ill, whatever – now is the time to share your ideas and be vocal on those solutions. Both sides want these tragedies to stop – if you can find a solution that doesn’t require me to carry a gun, I will stand by you and support your ideas and your rights.