I stayed silent when a gunman attacked the Capitol Gazette in June. I stayed silent when members of the Tree of Life Synagogue were shot dead last month. In fact, I’ve tried to keep silent since the school shooting at Santa Fe High School back in May. Even before that time, I was told in no uncertain terms by some in northwest Iowa to stop discussing the topic of gun violence. The comments came through social media so they were, of course, free of all grammatical errors and entirely civil in nature.
“TIME to change the subject matter,” one reader posted, with no less than eight exclamation points. “This horse is dead STOP beating it.”
Either that’s a zombie horse or it’s got one heck of a large animal vet, because it’s still moving along at a pretty good gallop. Just this past week, Governor Kim Reynolds ordered flags to half-staff to honor 12 people killed at a club in Thousand Oaks, California. A veteran, possibly with some PTSD from his tour in the Middle East, killed them. Judging by past posts, the dozen killed – including a sheriff’s deputy – wouldn’t even qualify as a major incident to some in northwest Iowa.
“17 people? Please,” one reader referring to the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said. “That’s 10 days in Chicago. Don’t you have a condom to snort?”
In case you’re confused, that last bit was a crack at my perceived youthful ignorance of the world (I’m 32 by the way). And, speaking of age, gun violence isn’t exactly a spring chicken itself. It didn’t begin with a pair of teens who took the lives of 13 people at Columbine High School back in 1999. In fact, more than half a century ago, former Marine opened fire on the University of Texas campus and killed 13 people. That was 1966. Let’s go back a couple more decades. In 1949, a World War II veteran shot and killed 13 people in Camden, New Jersey. There has been a slew of shootings in between then and now which weren’t committed by veterans, but my point is this shooter in California isn’t an anomaly. He joined a decades-long list of people who were never expected to do such things, but did. We’re told each time the same can happen to any small community, so some are compelled to lather up a defense – to say the next attack could come from anywhere, even the government, so we need to be well-armed and ever-ready.
“Our weapons should be able to match our governments,” one reader posted. “Otherwise, we will live in a society of Tyranny where the weapon is the control.”
Yes, tyranny – with a capitol T that rhymes with P that stands for Predator unmanned aerial drone. Sorry, folks. If we think our assault rifles and extended magazines will help defend against a military armed with nuclear missiles and high-altitude bombers, we’ve got another thing coming.
It’s not that I feel the country shouldn’t defend against tyranny. The founding fathers forged this country through treasonous resistance to tyranny, and it would be hypocritical to create a government which didn't allow for the same. What I’m saying is that we definitely have a problem. People keep dying at the hands of people intent on misusing their constitutional right. That’s undeniable. Yet, we don’t do much about it. And that’s not my opinion. That’s also the opinion of the latest killer, according to several news outlets.
"I hope people call me insane,” he posted on social media just before the shooting. “Would that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah... I'm insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is 'hopes and prayers'...or 'keep you in my thoughts.’"
The guy might have been insane. He probably saw some stuff overseas that helped him get to that point. But, if we truly believe 12 people are dead because of a mental health issue, our call to legislators should be for better mental healthcare for veterans, or better screenings for gun ownership rather than defense of the Second Amendment. If mental health is really the driving force behind these deaths, our energy would be much better spent advocating changes to the current model.
If only that were where the discussion were heading – a quest for potential solutions.
Instead, some simply want to end the conversation, call the horse dead and move on as we have been doing since before Chuck Schumer was even born. The weapons may change, the motives may change, but the issue hasn’t gone away. And neither should the discussion. I think at least some of you agree with me on that one. So don’t fire off your keyboard opposition into the open void of the internet and leave it at that. Talk with your neighbor who doesn’t see things the way you do. Consider some new solutions with an open mind. Read articles from your news network of choice and then see how your least favorite source covered the same thing. Don’t end the discussion.
Otherwise, we may as well leave the flags where they were.