Happiness isn’t a warm gun
Five days before my thirteenth birthday, two kids from Colorado entered Columbine High School and killed 12 of their schoolmates and a teacher. More than 1,500 km away, the shooting felt as if it had happened right in my town.
Information about Columbine, mostly exaggerated gossip, buzzed around our high school. A few copycats called in some threats, either for attention or hoping for an afternoon off. The TV in the lunchroom switched from MuchMusic to news for the first time.
We were all transfixed. It was the first time we realized that we weren’t necessarily safe inside those brick walls. Before, we had walked anonymously past other students without much thought. Now, we realized how vulnerable we were, surrounded by people we knew nothing about. We had learned to be afraid of strangers.
Yet, since that fateful tragedy, it seems like every year there are more news stories about a mass shooting. I’m a little ashamed to say that each causes a bit less reaction in me.
It just plays the same every time. There’s a shooting, then talking heads work backwards trying to determine the motivation that spawned it. Then come promises to make sure it never happens again.
Then nothing. Nothing changes and it ultimately happens again. Recently, a gunman took a glock semi-automatic pistol and opened fired at an Arizona supermarket where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet. Six are dead and Giffords is in serious condition after being shot in the head.
The shooter, who will not be referred to by name in this article, walked into a local store two months ago and walked out with the semi-automatic and high-capacity ammunition.
This was after being expelled from school because administrators had received multiple complaints from his classmates, who felt they were in danger as long as he was in the school. It was also after he had flooded the Internet with incoherent ramblings against government officials. It was after he had been denied entrance into the military for failing a drug test, and admitted freely to using hallucinogenic drugs. But most recently, it was after he wrote notes about how he fully intended to shoot someone.
And he walked in and out of a store with a gun and high-tech ammunition.
Those who knew the gunman said he was never one to be interested in politics; he even found the news boring.
In Arizona, anyone over the age of 18 can buy a gun and carry it without a permit. They are legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon anywhere except doctor’s offices, including bars and school grounds.
In 2007, before the Virginia Tech shooting, that shooter had walked into a store in a nearby community and walked out that day with a gun. He had been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder, had stalked two female classmates, and had been ordered to get mental treatment. Instead, he had an exorcism preformed on himself.
And now, rather than looking at how dangerous men with so many warning signs weren’t even delayed in getting firearms, it became left vs. right.
I don’t think owning a gun is a crime. Growing up in a farm town, guns can be a necessary part of life. The problem starts when we are faced with the reality of a high risk man easily – and legally – getting a gun, and distract ourselves with made-up excuses that don’t address the problem.
America might love their guns, but there should be limits. Otherwise, if things continue the way they have, every state will need to have a shooting to change their gun laws.
Senator Tom Coburn argued against gun laws days after the Arizona shooting saying, “People who are going to commit a crime or going to do something crazy aren’t going to pay attention to the laws in the first place.”
I say, why make it easier for them?