I write this post a couple days after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas.  I don’t think all the details are out yet, nor do I know what is true and what is speculation at this point, but here’s something we know: more than 50 people are dead, and hundreds are injured, because of the actions of one person.  And the debate flares back up:

“We need stricter gun laws!”

“What about my Second Amendment rights?”

“It’s not a gun problem; it’s a heart problem.”

“You can’t stop people from hating.”

“If somebody has it in their heart to kill, then that’s what they are going to do.”

“9/11 happened because of box cutters.”

“Cars kill more people a day than guns.”

“The NRA has bought and paid for Congress; nothing is going to change.”

“Changing gun laws is not going to prevent criminals from doing bad things; it only prevents law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves.”

“It’s a mental health issue.”

And so on, and so on, and so on.  Wash, rinse, repeat when the next tragedy occurs.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Aurora. Orlando. Virginia Tech.  Mass shootings. People killed and injured. The debates restarted and put back down.

I’ve said before that I don’t really have a particular political leaning, so this isn’t coming from somebody with a conservative/liberal ax to grind.  But the simple truth of the matter, as far as I see it, is that something needs to be done. Clearly, the do-nothing approach hasn’t worked thus far.

Of course, there’s the typical responses: the Oklahoma City bombing happened with fertilizer; 9/11 happened with box cutters; people can use a car to do the same thing. But, do you know what those responses don’t tell you?

The fertilizer that was used in the OKC bombing is heavily regulated now.  In fact, there is the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program that will essentially have persons who buy/sell the chemical with a background check against the Terror Screening Database.

We did take some drastic security measures after 9/11.  Do you know why it takes so long to go through security at the airport now?  Because security screenings are being taken much more seriously than ever before.  Some idiot tried to sneak a bomb in his shoe, and now we all have to take our shoes off for these screenings.  Do you know how annoyed I get about having to take my shoes and belt off every time I go to the airport? And I don’t even go to the airport all that often!

And the car analogy? We actually do regulate who can drive cars – it’s call a driver’s license. I don’t even know what the process is now, but I know it’s a lot more extensive than when I got my license twenty years ago. We have people register their vehicles with the government already. Sure, you can buy one at a car show, but you still have to go get a title and register at the BMV. You can get a ticket and have your license taken away if you abuse your right/privilege to operate your vehicle in a responsible way.  Oh, yeah, and you have to buy insurance too if you want to operate your vehicle.  Do we regulate our guns as much as we regulate our cars?

So, yes, things have changed in response to tragedies.  And for all the talk of how it “wouldn’t do any good” to change the law, how would we know unless things changed?  For the people who were all in favor of the Second Amendment, do you want to tell me where they were when this shooting was taking place?  I mean, let’s face it, it was a country music festival. Stereotypes are going to dictate that there was somebody with a concealed carry permit. Of course, I’m not up on Nevada law, so maybe they can’t in Nevada.  But, let’s say there was somebody there with a handgun. Were they really going to be able to take out a shooter from that distance? Probably not.  This isn’t Call of Duty where you can miraculously throw your tomahawk across the map to take out the enemy (I know, dated reference, but it works in my head).

The truth of the matter is that it’s not a single-issue problem – and that’s the problem.  We want a simple, easy solution. We set up these false dichotomies about it being a “heart issue vs. a mental health issue vs. a gun issue” and we don’t do anything about any of these issues apart from argue with some acquaintances and engage in meme activism on Facebook for the next week or so.  Who knows… maybe that’s all I’m doing right now.  Writing to get something off my mind.

The fact of the matter is that this was a terrible, senseless act of violence.  Lives will be forever changed.  Loved ones gone. Safety and security forever in doubt. And not to mention the serious PTSD that people are going to have to deal with for the rest of their life. For what? Attending a concert?  But, hey, Second Amendment, right?  Let’s bring that up at the funeral for one of these people whose right to live was taken away from them that night in Las Vegas.

And, no, you can’t stop somebody who has his mind set on doing something like this, but you sure as heck can try.  You certainly can make it more difficult on him/her… let’s face it, it’s usually a him.

I was grilling some hot dogs a couple weeks ago.  I dropped one of them on the ground.  You know what I didn’t do?  I didn’t say, “Well, it’s a gravity thing, there’s nothing I can do about it.”  I didn’t just throw my hands in the air and walk away.  I took it upon myself to do a better job paying attention to and regulating how I got the rest of the hot dogs off the grill.  And you know what?  One of these days, I’m going to teach my kids how to use the grill.  There will be times that they mess up, and those times will be good teaching moments for them to learn how do go about it a better way.  I realize that’s a terrible analogy, but the point holds.  I did something about it.  I learned from the past, and adjusted how I did things moving forward. And I plan on teaching my kids the same thing.

No, I don’t think the government should put together raids to confiscate all the guns that private citizens own.  I just think that we ought to do at least a half decent job tracking what’s out there in the first place. Yes, there are people who drive without a license.  Yes, there are people who drive with expired/forged/stolen plates. No, we can’t end it entirely.  But we can try.  And as far as I’m concerned trying is a much better option than burying our head in the sand once again.

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