Thoughts by Richard Bleil
As of the writing of this post (about a week before it’s anticipated publication), there were nine “mass shootings” across the country over the previous weekend. Eight dead and scores injured in separate shootings. In one weekend.
I decided that I won’t even call them mass shootings anymore. Mass shootings is scary enough, but let’s be honest about this; it’s American Terrorism. It’s time to stop sanitizing this and be real about it. We’re not up to routine bombings yet, but it’s just the next step.
Let’s stop politicizing it while we are at it. The Dickey Amendment, inserted as a rider in an omnibus spending bill, forbade the CDC from examining gun violence in 1996. The amendment was named after Jay Dickey, a Republican representing the state of Arkansas while serving in the House of Representatives and was heavily lobbied for by the NRA. While people are arguing about gun laws, he was busy making sure that we couldn’t investigate gun violence in the first place. This kind of politicization hurts all of us, and while politicians are seeking votes from gun-loving Americans, it’s only hurting our nation.
As a gun lover myself, these shootings irritate me. The reality is that any gun legislation that exists, or any gun restrictions that will come to pass, can all be linked back to the terrorists who commit mass shootings. In 2018, Claudia Tenney (Republican in the House of Representatives from New York) made a statement that, in her assessment, most mass shooters have a Democratic Affiliation. This is funny to me, because it seems that most of the shooters that I’ve looked into are Republican. To be fair, in 2017 at a baseball practice for charity, the shooter specifically waited for the Republican team to be on the field before opening fire. On the other hand, the insurrection that killed a police officer, the first in the nation’s capital since the war of 1812, was perpetrated by Republicans on behest of their leader Trump.
It’s not clear to me that we can make a clean assessment as to which political voters are more likely to be domestic terrorists. Maybe I’m seeing more Republican shooters because it’s what I expect to see. There are clearly plenty of examples on both sides of the spectrum. Maybe it’s time we stop pointing fingers at each other and start working together, acknowledging that we have a terrorism problem and instead find a way to address the violence we’re seeing. None of us are safe and it’s time we start trying to protect everybody.
Like it or not, we need common sense gun laws. We need real background investigations, and to find a way to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals, former criminals, and the mentally unstable. We need to crack down on those purchasing guns for others, and gun owners who do not store their guns safely so their children cannot get them. Yes, let kids learn about guns, and gun safety, under appropriate supervision, but if they’re not old enough to be tried as an adult, they should not own and have control of their own guns, whether they are rifles or handguns. Maybe we should limit the number of guns owners can have as well. This is coming from a man who owns fourteen handguns and rifles, but if you look at the guns I have, you’ll see an array of different calibers and types of guns. I’m hoping if such a law is passed, I’ll be “grandfathered in” as I will have had this many guns and never used them inappropriately. Or maybe a gradient should be used. A gun owner can have a certain number of guns in his or her first, say, five years of gun ownership, and the number of guns they can legally own increases with time.
Better yet, let’s limit the number of the same types of guns someone can own. Maybe two or three assault rifles would be okay, but nobody should have fifteen or twenty as that would constitute and arsenal. And frankly, nobody should be allowed to purchase guns without the government (local or national) knowing about it. Even with my conceal carry license that allows me to buy guns without going through background checks and waiting periods, I know that there is a report made for every gun that I do buy. This is okay. I’m buying them as a hobby, but if I go off of the deep end, I think police should be aware of what I have in my home.
It’s time to stop pandering to gun enthusiasts. It’s time to pick up research on gun violence to see if we can’t pin down the major reasons these terrorist attacks occur. It’s time for common sense.