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Friday, August 28, 2015

On Guns

On 8/26/15, in a style that rivaled something out of a Hollywood movie, a disgruntled former newscaster went postal and murdered two of his ex-coworkers before killing himself. Just after he'd shot and killed reporter Allison Parker and her camera man, Adam Ward, Vester Flanagan II faxed his manifesto to ABC news in New York, posted his confession on social media, and then turned the gun on himself.

Could easily be a scene from a movie or videogame if it wasn't real life. Image from here


As we enter the "why" phase that precedes any tragic event, one big issue looms like a pink-polka dot elephant in the room: guns.

This year has been a particularly bloody year for mass shootings in America. In May, a South Carolina cracker shot a bunch of people in a Black church in Charleston. Prior to that, there were a bunch of people shot in movie theaters. School shootings happened too. The list continues.

The common denominator in all these tragedies-individuals who have no business even dealing with weapons, getting a hold of a gun and using it to murder people.

Naturally, this brings up the topic of guns in America. As many know, America loves its guns. The Second Amendment of our Constitution protects individual gun ownership by calling for a "well-regulated militia", which isn't possible without gun ownership. At the state level, gun laws are variable and range from open carry (Arizona, Texas) to all but outlawed (Illinois).

With such patchwork state gun laws in existence, the safeguards that exist also vary widely from state to state as well. Here in Arizona, you can buy guns without having to undergo a background check (restricted to private sales and gun shows, while gun shops still require background checks), whereas in my home state of Illinois, the amount of paperwork and licensing requirements are so onerous that it's a pain in the ass to even bother acquiring a gun. Lobbying groups, like the notorious National Rifle Association, don't help matters by buying politicians and stoking fears of "liberals" taking away peoples guns for one end or another whenever the subject of gun control comes up.

'Murica!


I'm no "liberal" (in fact, I'm a Pinko/Magenta Catholic), but even I know not everyone should have a gun. Even if you arm the general population to the teeth, it's not going to stop mass shootings from happening.  We'll just wind up with a militarized society that's a powder keg waiting to explode in a hail of bullets and blood.

But I'm not against gun ownership. As many beefs as I have with America and the way my country is run, I realize that the right to own a firearm is one that not many other nations share. I just believe that before you own a gun, you should have to undergo at least some safety training and be subjected to a thorough background check before purchase. Some individuals should also have a psychiatric evaluation done in addition to the standard background check before being allowed to own a gun if there is something that pops up in the background check that warrants it. I'm in favor of reasonable safeguards. I don't like the idea of banning guns because they do serve useful purposes, like self-defense and hunting. Remember, a gun is an inanimate object; a human holding it is what makes it deadly.

Of course, changing the culture around guns from one of seeing *insert preferred Other (immigrants, Moslems, etc)* crawling out of the walls to one of rationality isn't easy. Guns are a hugely profitable industry, and one that is very well politically connected from the NRA to the military-industrial complex. These people get their rocks off from seeing more mass shootings happen cuz then they can increase profits off the tragedy (arming both sides means more money in their pockets!), rather than support modest changes that would help reduce the likelihood of guns winding up in the wrong hands.The Ammosexual Agenda, if you will.

Stay safe out there. And may the victims of America's gun culture find peace at last

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