Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Put down the guns
The news of yet another mass shooting is nearly impossible to stomach, and certainly impossible to ignore. They are, tragically, becoming part of the norm.
While waiting to checkout in a crowded store a few days ago, I found my thoughts wandering to how horrible it would be if someone walked in and started shooting. I began taking note of the various exits and thinking about where I might find cover, and I am mortified to realize that this kind of thinking is becoming more and more common when I find myself in various public arenas.
Over the last 20 years, since Columbine shocked the world as one of the first mass school shootings, to last week in Florida when we all said, “Not again,” the only change seems to be in our collective feelings of helplessness and frustration and the polarizing debate of the issues around gun control. I am joining countless others in saying, “Enough.”
How many more people need to die doing ordinary activities before we, as a culture, admit something needs to change and find a way to change it? When it is your child, sibling, parent, or friend? Then will it be time?
Debating our rights
There is great debate around the intention of the second amendment. When it was passed, our forefathers sought protection to preserve the “security of a free State.” At this time in history, I think it is fair to say that you, Mr. American, are never going to have enough arms of your own to really protect yourself from the arsenal the U.S. government can throw at you.
I don’t’ believe the “right to bear arms” is the right to bear any and all arms that exist. Yes, I do know about the Supreme Court rulings on this topic. Don’t get me wrong. I do not want to deny you the right to keep your great Grandpa’s musket or even the six shooter you keep in the nightstand in the unlikely (statistically speaking) possibility of a home invasion. I don’t even want to deny you the .22 caliber rifle you have for hunting game. I don’t want to deny you unless of course you happen to be prone to violence, or mentally ill.
Responsible gun owners balk but the boy in Florida was a responsible gun owner until he wasn’t. Can’t we agree on a maximum of rounds, a need to license, and waiting periods? Let’s make it a little tougher to own a gun and let’s take away the option of owning assault weapons.
Sorry, this is a sacrifice you might just have to be willing to make. The need to own your own assault rifle — bogus. The unwillingness to ban bumps — ridiculous and irresponsible. The fight at all costs to stop any real legislation to limit sales of firearms to mentally ill or violent offenders — unconscionable.
Might you be reminded that when our forefathers gave the right to all citizens to carry weapons, they were talking about single shot muskets that had to be reloaded each time between firings? They had no way of knowing what was coming. I do not believe, as is so often the case with legislation, they could foresee the unintended consequences.
There is no question the National Rifle Association is the most powerful lobby group in the nation. They have funded countless politicians and continue to influence national policy. When I was growing up, the tobacco industry was similarly powerful and influential. Somewhere along the way, people realized tobacco was killing people and hard-fought policy against tobacco use did occur. So I am hopeful.
Now it is time to look at the issue of gun violence in America. To say it is out of control is an understatement.
Access to guns — and not just guns — but unlimited amounts of ammunition and a variety of weapons with no purpose but to fire hundreds of rounds in rapid succession — need to be restricted and regulated.
I can already hear the “if you make guns illegal, only criminals will have guns” argument. I am not proposing such a move.
As I said before, keep the musket! But we must start somewhere. We need to plead with our representatives to use a bit of common sense and pass the most basic restrictions. We may not be able to stop the extremes, but we can work on the middle.
Mentally healthy responsible adults need not worry. No one is coming after your firearms.
But those who are a threat to themselves or others, should not have access to these very dangerous weapons.
I realize this issue is not just about the NRA and it is not just about mental illness. The issue is complex.
To quote a very good friend, “it is a valid argument to reduce access to guns and it is also a valid argument to teach people about the value of life and it is also a valid argument to work to help those with mental illness. There are probably many more valid arguments as well …
“To hold on to a single narrative is not helpful and will not do anything to save people’s lives. Innocent people are dying and we should all collectively be doing everything we can to save lives. Stop being more interested in participating in an argument than you are in actually finding a solution!”
I don’t want to have thoughts and prayers sent to another family following another senseless death from another violent shooting. I want signed legislation sent in a frame.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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