Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Politicians will probably start taking gun violence seriously. After multiple days of people getting shot for going to the wrong door and pulling into the wrong parking lot, a six-year-old girl was just shot when a ball she and her friends were playing with rolled into their neighbor’s yard. She was only grazed in the cheek, but it made national news because she’s white. So now that white kids are getting shot, things will probably change.
I don’t understand why things don’t improve until white people are affected, but there it is. We’ve been having serious issues with the ease of getting guns and stand your ground laws, but thankfully, the Republicans are all over which bathroom trans students can use.
Times change. A friend of mine has a son who ended up in a lot of trouble for making the shape of a gun with his fingers and pointing his finger gun at another student. In this day and age, that gesture can be taken as a threat. Her son, for example, was sent home and, I believe, suspended. When I was his age, that very same gesture was often used as a greeting, usually older to younger. I distinctly remember my uncle making that gesture at me while making a “click click” sound with his mouth.
The big difference is that the threats today are far more realistic than those when I was a kid. In elementary school, along with tornado and fire drills, we had nuclear holocaust drills where we were taught to get under our desks and cover our heads to make it easier to identify our bodies later based on the seating charts. But it never happened. It could have, but it never did thanks to things like the SALT II treaty that was abandoned by Trump. Today, kids are undergoing active shooter drills when, in fact, active shooters are becoming far more common. The odds of an active shooter are actually still low, but they are increasing.
With kids harassing and threatening each other on social media, and more kids getting hold of guns and bringing them to school and shooting their teachers, the gesture of a finger gun takes on a heavier meaning. I do not know why this kid made the gesture, of if he meant it as a joke, but the reality is that today the interpretation of such gestures probably is more important than the intention. If it is seen by the recipient as a threat, then it’s a threat.
I still believe that a lot of the proposed legislation is missing the point. We cannot ban assault weapons because any weapon can be used for assault. A vague and assumed meaning cannot be the basis of law. There are, however, features on guns that can, and perhaps should, be banned. I have an ammunition drum that can hold and feed fifty rounds of bullets into my rifle. That should be illegal. That same rifle has the option of binary action wherein it fires both when you pull the trigger, and when you release it effectively doubling its rate of fire. That should also be illegal, and I speak from experience because I own this gun.
One thing that I am happy to see is that it is becoming more common for gun-owning parents to be held legally liable if their children get ahold of their guns. Any gun owner should be responsible, which means keeping guns secured and out of the reach of their children and storing ammunition separately. Personally, I also believe (and have suggested this previously) that in semi-automatic guns, they should never be stored or carried with a round chambered. Every time a toddler finds a gun and shoots a parent, there is no doubt in my mind that that gun had a round chambered. It’s incredibly difficult to pull a gun slide to load it, but once loaded, the trigger pull is incredibly easy. A toddler is strong enough to pull the trigger of a loaded gun, but not strong enough to load it. Besides that, if the child is pulling the slide, the parents would hear it giving them time to respond.
Let’s be honest about this. The news picks up on the bad stories because those are the ones that sell. They report the stories of little white kids getting grazed by bullets fired by the psycho neighbors, but not the old man saying his rifle should be illegal. Who wants to read a story about reasonable proposals for legislation to make our nation safer? Until we, you and I, start demanding changes, they won’t happen. Our nation will continue to cater to corporations and wealthy like gun manufacturers and nothing will change.