Whenever I feel like I do right now I think of the scene in Network when the guy is yelling, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Somehow that image works for me and I begin to think maybe, just maybe, someone else knows how I feel. I held off until after the holidays to write this piece because I needed time to cool off and I thought those most dramatically affected by the December 14th tragedy in Newtown needed space. I even entertained the thought that maybe I didn’t actually need to write a post. Many have written and said what needed saying better than I can. (Check out these blogs/articles regarding issues of gun control (here), mental health (here and here), the religiously wrong (here), evil (here), comfort (here), etc. if you want examples). BUT, the truth is what needs saying still needs saying, and saying, and saying. We need to push and demand and shout. We need to occupy the political arenas and media outlets. If change is going to happen then WE NEED TO BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE!
I could not be more proud of our president for taking gun violence seriously and using his political position to confront the issues of gun control and mental health. I could not be more frustrated with vocal, fringe Republican groups and ultra conservative Christian groups as they do their best to distract, spin, and promote fear. The irony, that these fringe entities want us to be afraid of our government when it is trying hard to be compassionate and protective, appears to be lost in the chaos.
A recent FB post about our President from a Christian I know made my blood boil and caused me to de-friend the poster. The post showed Hitler surrounded by children and quoted a passage from Mein Kampf. It had the heading: Remember This When You See Obama Using Children as Props. I could probably have ignored it when I first saw it if I had been in a different mind set or had not already tried to explain to the poster on other occasions how offensive such posts are. But, I am weary of trying to point out how spreading hate with such posts never actually contributes to the discussion and never solves the problem. My previous attempts to reason and explain an other point of view in order to stop these types of posts were obviously fruitless so the best choice I could make was to remove her from my circle of influence. Yet, I am obviously still troubled by this woman’s post or I wouldn’t be using it as an example in this one.
I indicated in my opening paragraphs that some arguments need to be made and made and made until they become to dominate voice, until they cannot be ignored. Pointing out that hate propaganda is wrong and not of Christ is one example of the kinds of things that deserve repeating. Giving voice is one principle behind civil disobedience. It was practiced in part by the short lived Occupy Movement and more effectively by Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and the Peace Movement of the 70’s. I believe the issue of gun violence in the US must also be given a voice if we are ever going to see real change.
The whole “guns don’t kill people, people do” propaganda needs to be exposed for its ridiculous attempt to distract us from the truth. In fact: guns aren’t being regulated people are. In fact: hunters don’t use and certainly don’t need semi-automatic weapons. In fact: law biding citizens don’t need assault rifles to defend themselves. In fact: more people are killed by guns in their home than by strangers carrying guns. In fact: safety devises do not curtail the responsible use of firearms. In fact: an average of 33 gun homicides and 85 gun deaths occurred each day in the year 2010 for a total of 31, 076 deaths. And, an additional 73, 505 non-fatal injuries were reported for the same time period. In fact: regulating gun use, attempting to curtail gun abuse, and demanding gun safety is not a threat to our second amendment rights. In fact: these components of the gun control issue are and have been the main focus of our President and those who want stricter gun laws.
Obviously stricter gun laws won’t solve the problem of gun violence completely and don’t address all the factors in the Newtown tragedy. However, making access to high powered guns more difficult for criminals and unstable individuals, enforcing the laws that are already in place, closing loopholes to background checks, and avoiding the insanity of putting guns in the schools thereby making them even more accessible are steps in the right direction.