One thing is for certain: America is consistent. Again and again, after each catastrophe we face, we go through the phases everyone does in an emergency:
- emotional, irrational overreaction
- a cry for change
- very little rational analyses of the problem
Then, depending upon the problem, a removal of rights or a projection of responsibility onto someone else in order to “solve” it. Rarely – very rarely – do we ever collectively sit down and trace back to the root cause of the problem, then go to work together on solving that.
Surprisingly, America is still the freest country on earth. We were made free by people who accepted total personal responsibility in exchange for freedom. They revered that freedom so much that they were willing to die for it… and very many have. In order to retain that freedom, however, we must also keep our level of responsibility up to match it. Without that, things get quite out of balance with horrible results.
Our most recent catastrophes included a shooting at a temple in Wisconsin, a shooting at a theater in Colorado and a school in Connecticut. Both terrible tragedies, no doubt. Heartbreaking. What do they all have in common? “No guns allowed.”
America cried out for security once again. We’ve had security all along, of course – the 2nd Amendment – but in order to provide the illusion of better security, we’ve continuously stripped away the right to bear arms, creating places such as theaters and schools where people are widely known to be sitting ducks. Why not just hang a sign out front?
Come on in! We’re unarmed!
This, my friends, is not security. What’s the outcome? What would you logically expect to happen in such a place? You’d attract more criminals, of course. That’s not the outcome you wish for, but I think enough people have died in the past few decades to suggest that it’s the outcome you get from such a thing. Such policies are are enacted to make us feel safer, but in truth, they make our reality even less safe. We were given the right to bear arms and the responsibility to do so for our own security, yet we shirk that responsibility at every turn.
Very, very rarely do police stop crimes in progress; logic would dictate that they’d actually have to be present when the crime is committed in order to stop it. In reality, police show up after crimes are over, fill out reports and try to track down the criminals. That isn’t averting crime; it’s chasing criminals. The responsibility for preventing and stopping crimes has always belonged to “We, The People”. Until we each have our own personal cop – something we couldn’t possibly afford – that responsibility will always belong to us. Further removing our own ability to live up to that responsibility doesn’t solve problems; it causes even more.
But this is not a gun rights blog. In fact, guns really have extremely little to do with Colorado, Connecticut, Columbine, GA Tech and all the other shootings we’ve had. Guns aren’t any more violent than they are peaceful: they are a tool and are equally useful in keeping peace as they are in destroying it. It’s been proven again and again that guns have nothing to do with violence.
No, our problems are much deeper than that… and they go back further.
Mental illness is a fact of life in any society. Some of it is repairable; some is not. Some is due to nature and some to nurture. No matter what we do as a society, we will always have to consider that some portion of our society is mentally ill.
In America, we love to say “all men are created equal”. This can be a bit confusing for some; they actually believe it. We’re not remotely equal in our talents, beauty, attitude, ambition, brawn, intelligence or anything else. We’re created equal only in regard to our rights under the constitution. And, for some, those might be too much to bear.
For the majority of us, that’s acceptable. We can live as adults in our society with a full complement of American freedoms and responsibilities. However, not all of us are capable of doing so. This would include, primarily, some of the mentally ill and mentally challenged. As a society, we must decide what to do about that, rather than pretending it isn’t a problem, then wondering later why people are dying and projecting the irrational blame – “too many freedoms” – onto all of society. The problem here is that we continuously insist upon pretending that one small part of society is normal; it is absolutely not and it’s unfair to hold them up to that standard and saddle them with too much freedom and too much responsibility. You’re not doing them or society any favors by playing make-believe.
There are a plethora of known mental illnesses and disorders. These can range from mild depression to absolute psychosis. There are also many challenging brain disorders and syndromes by birth. As noted above, some issues are genetic and some are environmental. We do have the ability to fairly accurately classify, diagnose and treat most of these disorders with pretty good success.
In the sane, there is clear distinction between fantasty/dream/games and reality. For most of society, this is not a problem. But, for a minority, this can be a rather gray area and for some, it doesn’t even exist. These people need help, guidance and structure. Some may even be beyond help. No matter what, it would be most wise to reduce their rights and responsibilities in accordance with their capacity to handle them.
Most of the mentally ill and mentally challenged – especially with some help and treatment – can be very functional in society and can be good, productive citizens. A small percentage cannot. Rather than pretending they can, then putting them in prison after dozens of people are lying dead or allowing them to wander the streets homeless, perhaps we could consider an alternative.
Over the course of 12 years of schooling, we test children for their intellectual performance thousands of times, along with their physical performance in the gym. We also have a 12-year opportunity to observe and test their mental and emotional state; to engage parents and suggest treatments; to provide programs, but how much of that do we actually do?
Answer: not nearly enough. In most places, absolutely none.
Why the hell not? Why is this some special bubble where testing and improvement is not allowed to occur?
As I mentioned, most issues could be caught early; problems fixed; issues resolved, or at a minimum, put on the road to resultion. Either way, much potential disaster could be averted. For a small percentage, coping effectively with society is a pipe dream. Studies show that these do become rather evident in the formative years. In addition, some syndromes are simply by birth, rather than created by environment and we don’t have the capability to resolve them completely yet, so we’d better work on Plan B.
As a society, we must support schools and families in determining whether or not further work must be done, including possible ongoing sequestration as a last resort. That may sound harsh, but I submit that it’s much less harsh than the current method: forcing their integration – square pegs in round holes – insisting that all of society pretend they’re normal, then having to sequester them for life or put them to death after much public damage has been done.
America used to have county homes and state mental hospitals and sanitoriums, both public and private, including some rather lovely ones; places where mentally/emotionally disturbed and fragile people were protected from society and society from them.
Sadly, we turned our backs, rather than living up to our responsibility to ensure that these homes remained free of abuse. Instead of fixing the system, we shut them down and left society to deal with all the mentally ill on the streets. Now, we have many times more prisons, alcohol and drug treatment facilities, instead. We didn’t fix anything; we made it worse.
Don’t argue about cost they all cost money – we’re paying either way – only right now, we’re paying much more than just dollars: we’re paying in body counts, too. We could do far more good much earlier and potentially at much less expense than waiting til the problems within each person grow to the breaking point, then manifest themselves on the streets of America. Even semi-functional citizens contribute to society; incarcerated criminals do not.
Why is it, when these things happen, that we don’t say “we should become better parents. Let’s focus on that.”? Why is demanding that people who choose to bear children actually take responsibility for their creation and upbringing always the last thing on the priority list?
As parents, we give children freedom in accordance with the level of proven responsibility. The remainder, then, is our duty to protect them while they learn to be responsible and in addition, our personal responsibility for guiding their actions.
However, many don’t guid or guide well and nobody does a thing about it. Parents defend their child’s actions and their own inaction to correct the problems within the child. Is this good? Does it solve anything? Does projecting the blame onto everything else magically make the child a better person? No. It doesn’t.
I believe there’s every reason to hold parents personally accountable for the actions of their offspring. If parents were hauled into court due to their child’s bullying, harassment, theft, etc, parenting would become a much bigger priority in America and we’d have better children (and adults) in the end. Today, raising children is an afterthought; we breed them then shirk them off on others to raise them for us. Daycares, schools, latchkey programs, etc. We’re too busy chasing money to actually focus on making our biggest asset the most valuable asset. Turning children into better adults. Those adults would make a better America.
Many will say this isn’t true, but look at the big picture. When did things go to hell? When the nucleus left the family molecule. When fewer and fewer parents made an actual career out of raising their children. Probably the most critically important job in existence. Which parent? Who cares?! It doesn’t even matter, although I’m sure studies would show that women were far more capable of doing a good job of it than men. Still, a father would be much better at it than a stranger and many would be on par with a mother; at least a full-time parent is a key stakeholder in the outcome of the child-rearing.
We might think we can have our cake and eat it too, but it sure doesn’t seem to be working out too well, or we wouldn’t be having so many maladjusted adults in America.
And when all the above is said and done, where do we end up? We end up with a society in which the level of responsibiity is completely out of balance with the level of freedom. Democracy: FAIL
The solution, if we are to retain a democratic republic, is to focus upon developing citizens capable of sustaining a democratic republic. More responsile; more respectful; more considerate and more understanding of their duties and the interdependence we all have upon one another. Not less freedom; more responsibility, both as individuals and as a society. Notice, I didn’t say “government” – government and society are not the same thing. While some solutions involve allowing the government to take the wheel, the government is wasteful and irresponsible in and of itself, so shoveling everything over there tends only to create a whole new set of problems, such as the $16 Trillion in debt. A very tiny percentage of that debt may have moved poor people into the middle class(SBA,etc); what it absolutely did do was help a lot of politicians get re-elected and, on both sides of the aisle, help them get rather wealthy.
If we truly wish to sustain a democratic republic and one which is as peaceful as possible, we must first commit to having one, then take the steps necessary to end up with one. A continuous reduction in the rights of all citizens does not accomplish this; an increase in the accountability for all parents and children, along with programs and facilities to assist those who are troubled, along with reduced rights for those who are mentally incapable of exercising an equal amount of responsibility, actually would accomlish the goals.
Now, To The Guns
As for the guns, every gun owner in America is responsible for their weapons 24/7. Anyone who isn’t responsible with them should be accountable for their misuse. Gun ownership isn’t a casual thing; it’s a big responsibility and one which has a very necessary purpose: protection. It’s an integral part of freedom. Freedom allows people much latitude, to do either good or bad things; citizens must retain the right to stop the bad from occurring.
On the whole, gun owners are very responsible with their weapons and society is safer due to their presence. This is not an opinion; it’s a fact. For those who missed it earlier, here’s the .pdf again.
- In nearly 240 years, only Mexico and England have attempted any ground advance on American soil; they both failed.
- It’s been proven time and time again that there is no adverse correlation between gun possession and crime; crime always diminishes when good people are allowed to own guns, because criminals become afraid.
Part of the credit for only two unsuccessful attacks is due to our army; the other portion is due to every citizen being part – armed or unarmed – of our militia. They cannot advance anywhere in the United States without being resisted. We have 90 guns for every 100 citizens. American citizens are by far the largest army on earth (Wisconsin deer hunters alone comprise the world’s 8th largest army). Even the US government dares not cross us.
This brings up the other purpose for an armed nation – so that even our government fears us, rather then us fearing the government. It is not that it will happen, but that it could happen, which keeps our nation from slipping into something altogether different from what our constitution demands. Magic doesn’t keep that constitution in place; we do. We haven’t had to deal with such an atrocity, specifically because we’re capable of dealing with it. This is good prevention. It works both here and with crime.
That may sound like a bunch of nonsense, until you remember that American citizens are by far the world’s largest Army, even eclipsing our own military 200-to-1. That’s enough to make even the world’s most powerful government stand down, particularly when they’re our own. Would it come to that? Of course not. Why? Because it can… therefore it will never have to. Perfect balance.
Now, you can say that’s not true. But how do you know? Is it worth finding out? We can look to the rest of the world and see that every nation which has taken away the guns, the citizens are under control of the government. The balance of power is lost. Do we honestly need to lose our own freedom in order to prove to ourselves it can be lost?
But we need not focus on that. What we truly need is to focus on creating more civic-minded citizens. There’s no absolutely no “insecurity” in an American who is unwilling to shoot people for the wrong reasons… and even more security in a citizen willing (and still capable) to shoot one for all the right reasons.
True or False:
- A dead man can shoot people
- The police can routinely and predictably stop a man from killing multiple people
- Locations where people are guaranteed to be unarmed make more attractive targets
- The vast majority of mass shootings in the US take place where citizens aren’t allowed to carry weapons
- The remaining mass shootings have taken place in locations where people are least likely to carry weapons
- There has never been a mass shooting at a gun range
- Citizens are in a much better position to stop mass shootings than police are
- Most banks are robbed with a slip of paper, not a gun
Do you really even need the answers? Fine. F, F, T, T, T, T, T, T
Regardless of how you might feel about the facts, they are indeed still facts and your feelings won’t change them. Wishing doesn’t change reality. Removal of weapons rights will only make America less safe and embolden criminals more. It’s already proven to do so.
Restoring citizens rights to bear arms may have caused the violent crime rates to drop in 41 states now. It absolutely has not caused them to increase, anywhere. More and more permits are being handed out and violent crime is indeed dropping, as is crime on the whole.
Since 1995 when Conceal Carry passed in North Carolina, violent crime has gone down almost 30 percent. In 1995, there were 45,016 such crimes throughout the state. In 2010, the last year for which state level data is available, there were 34,033 such crimes.
When the numbers numbers above are converted into rates that take into account population growth, the violent crime rate dropped from 649 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 374.4 per 100,000 people in 2010. That’s a drop of 24.4 percent in terms of the raw number of crimes or a drop of 42.3 percent drop in the violent crime rate.
North Carolina isn’t alone and there’s nothing special about it. 41 states now have citizen right-to-carry laws, about double that of a few decades ago. Since enactment, the vast majority show that violent crime rates are dropping. Does this mean guns are solely responsible for the drop? No, there are more contributing factors, but it certainly means citizens bearing arms daily doesn’t make crime rates go up… and there’s every reason to believe that it contributes to the reduction in crime.
Florida, the granddaddy of CCW, passed it’s law in 1988 Look at the violent crime rate since:
You be the bank robber. Which bank would you prefer?
- A bank where peope are guaranteed to be unarmed
- A bank where people are guaranteed to be armed
The answer is pretty simple, regardless of your personal feelings about much of anything.
The truth of the matter is, if reducing the number of guns is going to change anything, it’ll change them for the worse, since only criminals will have guns, emboldening them enabling crime to rise.
Increasing the number of responsible citizens with guns is proven not to increase crime, and there’s every reason to believe it is now at least partially, if not chiefly, responsible for reducing crime.
Well, gun restrictions are obviously not the solution. So what is?
Creating Better Citizens
- Increased responsibility – hold people more accountable for their actions and their inactions
- Parental accountability – force them to focus on parenting
- Catching mental problems early
- Increasing mental health awareness and programs
- Treatment and sequestration as necessary
- Reducing rights and responsibilities for some in accordance with their mental/emotional capacity
- Increased Civic Awareness and our personal role in crime prevention and policing
In the end, we’d have better children who would become better adults. These adults, in turn, might even be more consciencious about what they do and how it impacts society, including elective self-censorship in regard to violence in music, movies, video games, etc. While these are not the actual problem, they are indeed symptoms. Symptoms not of the danger posed by guns, but the danger posed by people. People who systematically abuse the weapons guaranteed by the first amendment, while pushing for stricter controls on the weapons guaranteed by the second. More irresponsibility.
Creating better citizens and working on reducing the number of dangerous among them while guaranteeing that the good among them always have the tools readily available to protect themselves and our society is the key to a better America.
Gun owners stop tens of thousands of crimes annually in the US. Unlike the police, that’s actual crime prevention.
Here are your weapons, as guaranteed by the 1st and 2nd Amendments of the Constitution of the United States – in order to safeguard one another and the sanctity of the republic. Keep them close at hand and always use them wisely and responsibly.
It’s your country. Own it.