Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More Dead Kids

I have to confess I am very fed up today and it's not just getting off of that prescription. The news is yanking my heart around. Another school shooting leaving two kids dead in Oregon this morning.

No word on how the shooter got the gun but it's pretty obvious he had to have taken it from his home.

Didn't we just go through a shooting this weekend in the Vegas Cici's Pizza and Wal-Mart? Oh yeah, that one is 'okay' because it's not a school.

I believe a statistic I saw earlier today said that there had been something like 74 school shootings since the December 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary that left twenty children dead. I almost can't wrap my mind around those numbers. And to think that nothing has been done about gun violence in our schools is unacceptable. If there was ever a time to draft and pass legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the nation's youths it would have been in the aftermath of Sandy Hook. Instead our leaders shilly-shallied and played political games instead of addressing an urgent problem in our country.

This morning shortly after hearing the news that more kids were dead and the nation is no closer to having any sorts of restrictions on weapons I went to vote. Today was a Republican primary between Eric Cantor and Dave Brat. Sort of like having to hold your nose and pick a skunk. Which one will stink the least is what you're voting for, not who you'll think will do a good job.

When I walked up to the voting polls I had to ask one of Brat's supporters where Brat stands on gun control. I already knew exactly where Cantor stands, he's in the NRA's pockets and those are some deep deep pockets. Dave Brat's supporter told me in no uncertain terms that Brat was against any type of gun control, Brat supports open carry.

With what happened in Oregon and the avalanche of school shootings stretching all the way back past Columbine with every politician flapping their jaws that something must be done but voting down every ban on assault rifles (used at a number of shootings) or even simple laws making the adult of the household responsible for keeping the weapons out of the hands of those under the age of eighteen I sort of..err, hemm, ekk, went off on him about the lack of any responsible gun laws.

His response to ending gun violence in the schools? Make every 6th or 7th grader take mandatory gun safety and shooting classes and allow any kid that wants to after going through the course to carry a weapon, even in school.  Right, like that's a good idea. Give someone already boiling with scads of hormones and the interpersonal drama of middle school a lethal weapon to keep them safe, yet insist they will not react in a situation that they might find threatening, when it actually isn't. School shootings would sky rocket. You cannot mix immature people with lethal weapons and expect they will make the right choice all the time.

Let me stop and quantify here, I'm not opposed to guns, I don't want to ban all guns. Having a hunting rifle or a shotgun you use to keep the crows out of the corn is perfectly acceptable, unless you use them to commit a crime.

I would like to see assault rifles banned number one from everyone but law enforcement or the military. What does the average citizen need such a high powered weapon for? Try hunting with that thing and you're going to end up with ground round after you shoot.

Plus I would like to see much tighter control on hand guns. Hand guns for law enforcement or those who need them as a part of their job duties. Back in college I worked for an air freight company that required I carry a side arm and qualify with the gun. I wasn't crazy about it, but it was part of my job. Thankfully I never had to actually use it, but I was prepared to if necessary.

But the core issue to me is making sure people who should never have access to hand guns cannot obtain them. Make the penalties for your child or anyone else's kid taking your unlocked weapons and committing a crime much harsher. Gun violence crimes should have higher mandatory sentences as a deterrent. If you own a gun keep it secured at all times or pay the price of a stiff fine and jail time. Better background checks, close all the gun show loopholes.

"What about the criminals with guns?" most of the 2nd amendment rights folks shout. Simple. Tougher and longer mandatory sentencing for ANY crime committed with gun violence attached. Make the gun shops legally culpable if they allow someone who cannot pass the background check to obtain a gun.

I hate the idea of throwing more people in prison considering we already have the highest prison population per capita than any other developed nation, but something has to be done.

Example: Back in 1994 my then 16 year old cousin took one of his father's hand guns from the unlocked gun cabinet in the living room and put it to the back of my 13 year old cousin's head and blew his brains out all over the living room wall. This is a family where my uncle told the rest of us that we were nuts for not having guns in our houses and training our kids how to handle weapons.

We buried my cousin Chris that November just before Thanksgiving. As tragic as it was I hold my uncle Kenny responsible for the death of his youngest son and I wish the court system did as well. Kenny didn't believe in locking up his guns and ended up paying a high price for that mistake. Your irresponsibility should not go unpunished when a life is lost.

Actually, two lives were lost that day. The shooter, my older cousin Andrew, has had his life ruined by what happened. Since the shooting he has been in and out of mental hospitals, struggled with substance abuse and been on government assistance, unable to hold a job due to his mental issues. Andrew stood no chance of having a normal life after the day he was goofing around with his dad's gun.

Haven't enough kids died already? It's really time to do something about the issue of children and access to weapons in the home.  No more dead kids.

No comments: