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The Problem with Gun Control is: Everything

By January 28, 2016 0

Yesterday, I took a half-day from work and flew down Route 7 in CT to be with my family because I learned my grandfather had passed away. He was well into his nineties, had carried cancer in his bones for well over 10 years, and had slipped into the far-reaches of dementia in the years since that diagnosis. It was sad to lose another human soul from this Earth, but for all intents and purposes, my Popou is now in a much better, warmer, safer, happier, saner place, and so I can be sad, but I can rejoice in his comfort.

While I was sitting with my father that afternoon, who is taking the death of his own father quite emotionally, and understandably so, I flipped through news headlines on my phone. “Oh…active shooter reported in—“

“San Diego, I know,” my father mumbled. “Another one.”

As it turns out, the report was supposedly a false alarm, and while witnesses reported that “the shooter fired several shots into the air and not at any people, perhaps as a warning of some kind,” there was no evidence of shooting found inside the building.

Today, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because the world is not mourning another crop of innocent victims taken too soon at the hands of a crazed, angered gunman. Today, I can follow up on a news story I tried to remain blissfully ignorant of and see that it was, after all, a false alarm. Today, I can be thankful that everyone in the vicinity of Balboa Naval Medical Center remains safe, unscathed, though perhaps a little shaken up.

Today, I can laud the persistence of life, instead of mourn its loss.

My day began with the sad but very much merciful loss of my grandfather – a man who lived a full life, who raised 2 amazing children, who had the most caring, loving, saint-like wife a man could be lucky to find, who cooked up a storm in numerous diners in our town and who was known for, well, car accidents, gory WWII stories, and the best bowl of rice pudding this side of New York City, among other things. I am thankful, endlessly grateful, that the day did not also incur the useless loss of life at the hand of another poor, lost soul letting loose a lifetime of anger, insecurity, and depravity on the unsuspecting world. I am thankful that I could celebrate a life well-lived, not wallow in lives lost too soon.

The problem with gun control is everything. It is not merely one thing or the other. The problem is not solely the humans who wield them; people have had access to guns and weapons since the dawn of man. The problem is not only the laws that govern policies; no matter the law, the consequence, the enforcement, or the regulations, inevitably, it will still happen, it will always happen (If you need proof, raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten high. Thanks, I rest my case). It is not merely the lack of background checks or mental illness screens; the thing about crazy people is that, half the time, people never know they’re crazy. The problem is not just the video games, the insensitivity, the corruption, the exposure, the war.

The problem with gun control is everything. The problem is that mass shootings happen, and we know about them, and horrible, sad, unfulfilled people sympathize with the horrible, sad, unfulfilled people who commit these unspeakable acts.

The problem might be entitlement; that we think so highly of ourselves and of our pain and suffering, that we think it right to bring others down with us. The problem could be with popular culture, that citizens feel so lost, empty, and hopeless in its clutches, that they’ve got no one to turn to but the devil himself. The problem could be the lack of accessible mental health care for those who need it most (If you don’t believe this is true, check out this chilling blog post, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”). The problem could be parenting, bullying, government, or socioeconomic status.

The problem could be you.

I was told a story around Christmastime about two members of the same family having a rather testy argument over the issue of gun control, and I could only laugh at the recalling of events. How dare you think you are wrong and you are right. How dare you think you even have the answers. How dare you think guns are perfectly fine; how dare you think the only answer is to nix them altogether. How dare you even begin to assume that this problem has a simple solution. Present your simple solution to the families of so many lives lost, those young and old and in the middle. See how they take it, see what they say.

The problem with gun control is everything. This article has no chilling answer or conclusion. There is no revelation at the end. The concept, the idea, the epidemic all-around sucks. How many people now think twice before going into a dark movie theater? How many people are slightly wary of airports, malls, parking garages? How many people – yes, I’ll say it – can’t walk into a school without feeling a chill? How many times have I choked back tears of fear, remorse, and worry while running my class of second graders through a lock down drill, knowing, for all intents and purposes, that our hiding place between the bookcases is futile, to say the least?

The problem with gun control is everything. It is you and me. It is your neighbor, your government, our norms, the media, our world. It is the violence and the video games that have trained us to die and come back to life. It is the ease with which a teenager can walk into a Walmart and lay their eyes on a rifle for the first time. It is the anger that swells in an angst-ridden pre-teen’s chest; it is the pain that grips a lonely man’s heart. It drives us to the sickest, saddest things imaginable.

And it is no one’s fault, yet it is the fault of all of us, and of everything, all at the same time.