“Would it help if I turned a sad song on?
All by myself – it’d sure hit me hard now that you’re gone.
Or maybe I’ll fold some old yellow, lost love letters.
It’s gonna hurt bad before it gets better.
But I’ll never get over you,
By hiding this way …
‘Cause I’ve never been the kind to ever let my feelings show.
And I thought that being strong? Meant never losing your self control.
But I’m just drunk enough, to let go of my pain.
To hell with my pride, let it fall like rain
From my eyes –
Tonight I wanna cry …”
When I got into work this morning, the first email I had in my inbox that was unread, was the KC Star's "Deal Saver" of the day. Normally, you can find some quality, decent dining or entertainment options (hence my subscription to it ... although I'm guessing, as a digital subscriber to The Star*, that I'd get the daily email offers even if I didn't want them.)
Today's "Deal Saver"? So enraged me, so infuriated me, that I not only immediately forwarded it to some good friends with a healthy angry commentary attached, I not only immediately unloaded on The Star on my Facebook account, emailed Derek Donovan at the Star to register my outrage, and tried to unload on Twitter ... only I realized 140 characters wasn't enough.
(*: seriously, Fake Ned -- $10 / month for access to every article the paper publishes, is a steal. I'm more than willing to pay it. And (shhhhhhh!) your access ID, at least so far, works for every McClatchy publication. Or at least the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in addition to the Star.)
If you're a regular reader of this site, you can probably figure out my political leanings. I am, for lack of a better way to put it, a Clinton Democrat. I am for as little government as needed on economic matters -- just set a sensible tax rate, keep spending to the CBO baseline levels, and get the hell out of the way of the economic boom that is guaranteed to occur afterwards. (An undeniable historical fact, repeated throughout all of recorded human history, that sadly, 52.9% of the country forgot on November 6th.) I prefer peace through strength when it comes to foreign policy -- make yourself so powerful, that you'd have to be mentally incompetent to think of being challenged by a foreign power. And on most social issues -- all but two of them -- I am as far left-leaning as someone who is on the ACLU payroll. I make Barack Obama look like a social conservative 95% of the time. For example: I didn't need to "evolve" on the issue of marriage equality. I usually don't need to "evolve" on anything when it comes to defending the three things this nation was founded upon: that all are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
(Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.)
Prior to a few weeks ago, I had "evolved" on exactly one political or social issue in my life. Twenty years ago, you wouldn't find a more dedicated defender of abortion rights, than me. Today, I cannot come up with a single legitimate reason abortion should ever occur. Now, let me qualify that -- I don't share the Church's position, that using a condom equates murder. That's insane. That's absolutely f*cking insane. But my position evolved for me personally, because I believe life trumps all. If you're playing rock / paper / scissors with the three founding principles of this nation, life trumps liberty, liberty trumps happiness, and happiness trumps ... uuh, well, misery, I guess.
And prior to a few weeks ago, the only other social issue I wasn't in lock step with the liberal agenda on ... was gun control. Namely, I had no real position on the issue, because I thought both extremes were insane. I genuinely believed anyone who thought removing as many guns as imaginable from society, was a delusional optimist, if they thought it would reduce crime. And I absolutely believed anyone who thinks arming everyone is the answer, is worse off mentally than me, and I pay damned good money every week to have a really nice mental health therapist listen to me b*tch about life for an hour at a time.
After the last month, I am no longer neutral, and I no longer think both sides are insane. I've "evolved", for the second time in my life, and my evolved position is this:
Get rid of as many guns as imaginable.
Today's KC Star "Deal Saver"? Was for 53% off of a concealed carry training class. My buddy Jasson, God love him (and everyone else too -- he is a good guy, after all), replied that "no person who takes this class is going to murder someone".
And maybe he's right. But no sooner did I get his response, than this story hit. Yes, KC readers -- a four year old girl shot herself in the head today, with a gun that the relative watching her left -- fully loaded -- on the couch. (Presumably with the safety switch off.)
Radioactive's main debate today was over this story. (In the interest of full disclosure ... I freaking love this show, and both hosts.) And Scott Parks raised a great point, in asking "what can we as a society do to legislate against stupid?" Clearly, he's right -- I would argue simply having a loaded handgun in the room with four children under the age of six is beyond stupid -- but I can give you a simply answer to your question, of how you legislate against stupid.
You don't allow stupid to be put in a position, where stupid can occur. Because the bottom line, is that if there's no gun in the room, a four year old isn't in critical condition tonight with a bullet in her skull.
The bottom line, is if President Bush hadn't caved to the NRA eight years ago, and had joined with the majority of both houses of Congress to extend the assault weapons ban President Clinton signed into law a decade earlier (the so-called "Brady Bill")? Twenty children and six teachers are still alive, and Newtown, Connecticut isn't remembered in the same way that Aurora, or Columbine, or Jonesboro, or Virginia Tech, are.
(And, secondarily, I could continue to blissfully hate President Obama for what he's done to this country, instead of having to admit, no matter what else he does to screw up the last great hope of civilization, at least he stood tall when this country needed him most, ala his predecessor standing on the ruins of Two World Trade Center eleven years ago. Bush, then Obama. God forbid we elect someone with an IQ above room temperature, when it comes to how to manage an economy, or fight on foreign soil.)
The common theme here? Rail all you want about illegally purchased guns ... but when was the last time a mass murder, or a senseless tragedy like, I don't know ... A F*CKING FOUR YEAR OLD SHOOTING HERSELF IN THE HEAD! -- when was the last time an event like this happened with anything OTHER than a "legally purchased firearm"?
It's time, people, to end the insanity. A society armed to the teeth, is not going to reduce violence. If anything, it's only going to encourage it, especially if drugs, alcohol, and/or stupidity are involved. I mean, isn't this why we have rehab facilities, psychiatric evaluations, mental health wards, is to protect the stupid and dangerous from themselves? If we admit as a society that some people simply are not capable of functioning in an acceptable manner when left to their own devices, then why in the bluest of blue bloody hells do we not have a national listing of people who should NEVER own a firearm of any kind due to mental defect and/or chemical dependency? Why is it that the NRA and many gun owners are opposing any kind of sensible, common sense approach to gun ownership?
In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own a gun. I have never fired a gun in my life, unless you count a water gun. (Those Super Soakers rule!) Hell, I'm so opposed to being around any form of gun, that when I moved in with "The Champ" six years ago, and noticed a rifle sitting next to the fridge (which was by the front door), I went ape-sh*t angry on him ... until he pointed out it was a pellet gun, to deal with the squirrel problem in the front yard. (Squirrel!) But even then, I wasn't thrilled to know that every time I went to grab a beer, I had to look at that thing.
And I certainly am not advocating to remove all guns from society. For starters -- that's insane. It will never happen. There's too many illegal firearms out there, to get them all, or even a sizeable chunk of them. We live in a nation that (sadly) embraces violence, (sadly) glorifies violence, (pathetically) sees a link to a story of a four year old shooting herself with a gun her relative left on the couch, and just shakes our shoulders and thinks "wow, sad, but uuh, what's the Bucks / Bulls score?" And there are also legitimate uses for firearms. Noone is arguing a police officer should enter a dangerous situation without being armed. Ditto any person in service to this country. I respect the rights of hunters, and the right of homeowners to protect themselves.
But for God's sake, READ the Second Amendment! NONE of those uses of a firearm are Constitutionally protected rights! Here, I'll save you the trouble -- here's the damned amendment in its' entirety:
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
If you are going to insist that we take the second part of the sentence at literal word, shouldn't you also insist we take the FIRST part of the sentence at literal word as well? People who support unchecked gun laws? You can't have it both ways. The only thing the Constitution gives you the right to own a gun for, is to either (a) be in a militia, or (b) be in service to secure our freedom. That's it. There's nothing in there that says Bambi is free game for ya. There's nothing in there about protecting your home from a burglar (although I'll be fair -- the whole "security" clause does pretty much amount to that).
It is time, fellow citizens, to evolve on this issue, and come to the conclusion that as recently as two years ago, I vehemently opposed.
Sensible, strict gun control laws. NOW. Restore the ban on assault rifles. Ban manufacturing of magazines for those weapons. Mandatory background checks on ALL weapons purchases -- not just at gun shows and through gun retailers, but through pawn shops and retail outlets as well. And I'll even go one step further -- try any person who sells a firearm as a co-conspirator, if the person they sell that firearm to, uses it to commit a capital offense. Not self defense -- capital OFFENSE.
We support DUI checkpoints, even though it robs us of the Constitutional right against unwarranted search and seizure, because we recognize that public safety sometimes trumps private freedom. We allow criminals to walk free amongst us, let off by technicalities, because we recognize that one innocent man incarcerated, is more offensive than one hundred guilty men walking free. We support torture of terrorists, because we don't want to ever again experience a 9/11.
Why, I ask, do we as a society "approve" of these limits, generally speaking across party and ideological lines (for the record, I support all three examples just given) ... yet when it comes to trying to limit the damage and devastation that guns can cause, half of us immediately plug our ears and start singing "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi in response, as if violence is the only acceptable answer to any of life's problems?
I expect at least 82.6% of the people who read this*, to react negatively to my "evolved" belief. And that's ok. Just ask yourself this: if you had a momentary lapse in judgment, and left a loaded gun you own in an easy-to-access position for a four year old, and said four year old picked it up ... could you live with yourself?
(*: rough guess. I know my regular readers, and let's just say, they represent the two reddest of the red states quite well.)
It's a question a poor grandmother has to ask herself, for the rest of her life, beginning tonight. Enough is enough guys. How many more have to die, have to be shot, have to pay for our addiction as a nation to violence and the lowest common denominator, before the grown-ups in the room, finally reach their breaking point?
And if you have to actually think about your answer to that question, God help you. Because there's a four year old girl, our fellow citizen, who shot herself with an unprotected, (probably) legally registered gun, not even three miles from where I type this post, who's fighting for dear life tonight, due to stupidity, and due to this nation's idiotic belief that violence trumps everything.