I’ve been quietly watching this whole Aurora, Colorado dialoge plays out in the world. In the media, on social networking sites, in the salon…it seems that people are all talking about it. And we should be. It was a heinous thing. Beyond comprehension. As the individual stories start to trickle out, as we get to know about the lives of those injured, those killed, and he that did the damage, the underlying theme of the conversation is centered around guns. Guns. Gun control. Gun issues. Guns for purchase legally, and why they shouldn’t be illegal. There are raging words for and raging words against.
As par for the course, anyone who dips their toes into the pool “gun control” is deemed a crazy fucking liberal tree hugger socialist nazi who is trying to take away my God given ‘Merican rights. Just look at the backlash Jason Alexander got on Twitter. Granted, in the new world of instant publishing that we live in, the aftermath of such a gross thing will illicit knee jerk reactions. But it’s still happening. To his credit, Mr. Alexander is retweeting all of the dissenting tweets as well as the supportive ones. There are more up just this morning.
Now, let’s just kind of look at this from a different angle. Change the words a bit.
I think it’s fine to own your own gun. Get trained. Don’t be batshitcrazy. Know that if the moment comes when you point a gun at another person, you can follow through. Make sure it won’t be removed from your hand and used against you. Make sure you KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. It’s a mental and physical task and you need to make damned sure you’re up to both. Because that slight error in judgement has the potential to change the course of your life and possibly mine, forever.
Do we need military grade automatic weapons ala Scarface available to purchase? Don’t those bullets do the same damage as a handgun or shotgun? Dead is dead, right? When someone is collecting 6000 rounds of ammunition, how come there’s not a red flag? Are there any red flags in this case of James Holms? I think there were, and I think those flags were completely overlooked. The conversation has been centered on the guns, and the ammo and the bombs and supplies he used to booby trap the apartment.
The conversation, in my opinion, needs to change. We need to be focusing on the state of mental illness in our country. They way we look at it, deal with it, fund it, treat it. Look people, this isn’t just a case of “he watched a violent series of movies and decided to kill people.” That’s easy. And irresponsible. For anyone to blame a game or a movie or a song…pull your heads out please and get yourself a big gulp of oxygen to your brain. I think Tracey Letts, playwright and screenwriter, said it best:
“I’m clearly on the side of the argument that say we simply reflect [violence in society],” Letts, a Pulitzer Prize winner for August: Osage County, said. “That crazy motherf—– [in Colorado] had an AR-47 and 6000 rounds of ammunition. Anybody who would point the finger at us and our little fried chicken movie, as opposed to the ability to buy 6000 rounds of ammunition, is out of their goddamn mind.”
When told that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had blamed violent Batman movies for the massacre, Letts added, “There you go — consider the source.”
Mental illness is prevalent in our society. Did you know that? “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year” Did you know THAT?
We have got to figure out a way to change the words. Change the conversation. This kid, yeah he could be faking the whole thing. I could really be sleeping with George Clooney every Friday night. There are a lot of “could be’s” in the world. It’s your brain and you get to decide what you believe. But I believe that this kid fell through a big fucking crack in our system and as time goes on, more will be revealed. It’s not sane, educated, trained gun owners who are Falling Down. It’s the batshitcrazy people who are going through our “proper legal channels” and procuring off the wall amounts of ammunition and big giant guns.
This whole gun debate… look. I don’t want to take away your guns. I may even want to own one myself. I don’t want to take away the right to bear arms. I want though, some dialogue, serious and real dialogue on why certain arms are NEEDED outside of our military? Dead is dead, right? I want it to be more difficult for the crazy people to get them. I want it to be more difficult for anything like this to happen again. What’s the phrase being bandied about every three seconds on Facebook? “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
What can we do about that?
I don’t think anyone will ever calm down the frothy rhetoric enough to look at it. The same phrases spewing back from both sides will continue to spew.
I do think it’s time to change the phrases.
I think it’s time to look at the other layer of this story and ask ourselves, and the people that we vote into office, what we can do about it.
I think it’s time to change the words.
In the meantime,
May God bless you, Aurora Colorado. May you feel the peace and grace of a nation who mourns with you, who questions for you, and seeks answers for all of us.
4 thoughts on “Change The Words”
You are right on the money Misti. I see far more kids walk through my classroom that need some counseling, whether it be intense therapy or just a sane sounding board, than I see kids who need ADHD meds. Yet it is so rarely recognized or addressed. If there are so many troubled kids, there must be a bejillion troubled adults. You were right to broach political discourse on this.
It’s that same gut reactionary posting and re-posting on social media that also scares me. If we can so easily use our words with out thinking, how can we be sure to not pull a trigger without thinking? I got into this argument with my supervisor over the Trayvon Martin case. He said that Zimmerman had a right to defend himself. I agree, but didn’t Trayvon also have that same right? Gun vs fist. If we’re not smart enough to know which one of these is the trump card, then maybe we should have a better system for getting the gun permit.
Even “normal” every day people who do not have a diagnosed mental illness goes through periods of depression. Life is stressful. Yet we still insist that a country full of people who can’t even manage their own debt, can carry a firearm. Mental illness is the route of so many crimes in this country, yet we still fail to acknowledge the connection. There are warning signs. There is behavior to look for.
I don’t want to take away peoples guns (heaven forbid). I just don’t think there’s a need for people to own AK-47s. You can not convince me that this guy did not send up red flags with anyone. People will trip over themselves to report suspicious terrorist activity. People need to be tripping over themselves to report suspiciously dangerous mental people.
Misty, I agree with your primary point of addressing the actual problem, mental illness. The problem is the discussions, no arguments, focus on gun control versus right to bear arms. There are some mechanisms already in place for flagging individuals with mental illness. Unfortunately, only half of the states fail to report at all, or report a tiny fraction of what they should submit. Also, psychiatrist should be able to submit a patient as mentally unfit. Right now
For a couple reasons, I think gun control needs to focus more on restricting the acquisition of firearms, and not the type firearm. I’m not opposed to banning AR-15’s, I just think it won’t work. There are about 3 million AR-15’s in the US, and it’s hard to find more than a couple mass shootings involving AR-15’s. If you look at mass killings historically, they’re usually carried out by a nut job that prepared methodically, well in advance, and the goal of taking as many people as possible. They’re almost always carried out with handguns, not assault rifles.
Virginia Tech is the worst mass shooting in US history and the fucked up Korean Killed 32 people with two handguns and shit ton of clips. He had been deemed mentally unfit, and he shouldn’t have been able to legally purchase a gun. The Arizona shooting, NY immigrant center shooting, Ft. Hood, and the Luby’s massacre were all done with handguns. One of the Columbine shooters had a Tech9 I believe, but they only entered the school because the bombs the placed in the school failed to detonate.
Anyway, my point with all this is the same as yours. What possesses someone who seems to be a bright guy with endless potential to start planning a mass shooting a few months ago, and then follow through? Several people interviewed commented that he seemed “disturbed” recently, why didn’t someone get him some help?
We need to work on education and awareness of mental illness, the warning signs, and what to do about it. Without that, it won’t root out the real problem. It’s pretty tough preventing a psycho determined to take as many live as possible by limiting their options. All the tragedies listed above were carried out by sick people that planned several months in advance.
Hell, other than New York, Oklahoman’s know better than anyone what a couple of mouth breathing white supremacists can do with a Ryder truck, diesel, and lawn fertilizer. I know gun control wouldn’t have saved my cousin, her 3yr old son, mom, and step dad from being murdered by her half brother with a baseball bat.
Just a disclaimer, I own 3 handguns, but I’m not some right winging gun freak. I believe in having a right to protect your home and family. However, I haven’t decided if I’m for or against conceal carry. Honestly, I think it’s likely if someone with conceal carry was in the theater, more would be dead. Friendly fire wouldn’t be hard to imagine in a hostile chaotic situation like that with so many people packed in a tight space.
Thank you for expressing your thoughts and opinions and for reading here. You’re absolutely right. We must work on education…from handguns to big guns…dead is still dead. We’ve got to figure out a better system all around.