Yesterday’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, happened less than a mile from my house. In fact, it happened at the city park complex where I take my dog three or four times a week. My girlfriend took our nephew there the day before.
Listen, bad things happen. I’m not Pollyanna. I don’t expect to create complete and total insulation from the possibility of harm. It’s an exchange: we trade away security for increased freedom. I want as much freedom for as many people as possible, without putting myself and my loved ones in harm’s way.
I don’t want to politicize this terrible event. Take political parties out of it, and the reality is that four people were shot for no good reason. A lot more would have been if there hadn’t been law enforcement officers already armed and present.
I question how he got the gun, but I recognize that he could have gotten it in a hundred different – legal or illegal – ways.
I wonder how he found himself going from disgruntled to murderous, but I recognize that mental health is more complicated than a blog post is going to tackle.
I’m scared as to what would have happened if the Majority Whip hadn’t been part of the baseball team, thus removing the security detail from the scene. I’ve met members of Congress before, and they didn’t have security with them, so I shouldn’t be surprised…but I am still a bit surprised. Our country could be rapidly undermined by one bad dude with one big weapon. What if this guy had killed 20 sitting members of Congress? How would our nation deal with that? I’m sure we would deal with it, but damn, that would be a real body blow to representative democracy.
There are 330+ million people in the United States. A lot of them are nut jobs. A lot of those nut jobs read conspiracy theories and wear tin foil hats. Some of them have lots of weapons. A few of them are nut jobs who wear tin foil hats AND have lots of weapons. All it takes is one idiot to go off the deep end, and we get what we had yesterday, or worse.
How do we mitigate that risk without abridging the rest of our freedom?
Short of wrapping him in Kevlar and providing him a sidearm, how do I make sure that my six-year-old nephew doesn’t risk his life just to go to the dog park?
There’s the old NRA slogan that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” So should all of the Republican, pro-2nd Amendment congressmen been packing heat while they played baseball?
A rag-tag baseball team full of heavily armed congressmen sounds like a phenomenal premise for the feel-good movie of the summer. Still, the fact that none of the Republican congressmen were armed at their 6 am team practice makes a pretty clear statement that “a good guy with a gun” simply can’t be the answer to preventing gun violence.
I’ve got a different take on this. The real problem isn’t guns or violence. It’s our inability to discuss the topics upon which we disagree in a civil, constructive manner. It’s our winner-take-all mentality. It’s our demonizing of one another, and our inability to give an inch to reach a compromise. It’s the fact that our politicians are beholden to outside money, and any compromise (read: deviation from the money’s stated goals) results in getting ousted in the next primary.
Very few Republicans will say that there’s zero need for mental health care in our country, no matter what Huffington Post or Mother Jones says. Very few Democrats will say that the 2nd Amendment should be totally abolished, irrespective of what you’ve read on InfoWars or Breitbart.
Very few Americans think that unrestricted access to weapons, to carry anywhere you want, is a good idea. Think I’m wrong? How about we let people wander the halls of middle school with a flamethrower…? Yeah, that sounds a little too crazy. Okay, maybe just machine guns, and maybe only high schools? No? Okay, so semi-automatic handguns and community colleges? Aw, to hell with it. I want to drive a tank to work and strap some bandoliers across my chest like Pancho Fuckin’ Villa. Little known fact: Pancho Villa’s middle name was Fuckin’. Apostrophe and all.
The point is, the lines exist, we just disagree on where the lines should be. Some weapons shouldn’t be in any old dipshit’s hands, and some places should be restricted as to what weapons (if any) will be allowed in. Which weapons? Where? That’s what robust, honest, civil debate with an eye toward compromise is for.
Presently, our manner of administering gun laws has some unacceptable results. The only reason we’re not talking about 20 dead congressmen is because Rep. Steve Scalise plays 2nd base.
I don’t think you’re a stupid fascist redneck if you value having access to weapons. And I hope you don’t think I’m a commie liberal pussy for thinking that we all deserve to play baseball without fear of getting mowed down by a crazy bastard hiding in the bushes.
When the House of Representatives or the Senate next take up gun control and 2nd Amendment issues on the floor, my sincere hope is that they’ll use yesterday’s shooting as a catalyst to drop the rhetoric. The rhetoric is what got Rep. Scalise shot. The rhetoric is what allows the next school shooter to plot and acquire his weapons under the ATF and FBI’s noses. The rhetoric is what guarantees we’ll see tens of thousands of people die by gun violence this year.
Crush the rhetoric, and true to your generic campaign promises, you’ll each have a real chance to improve and preserve the lives of your constituents.
In the meantime, I’m going to take my dog Lemmy to our local dog park, because doing whatever the hell I want in the face of impending violence is the American way.
And no unhinged asshole with a gun is going to scare me or Lemmy away from that.