Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Serious Soapbox

This wasn't intended to be a blog post, merely a reply on one of my status updates on Facebook. Last night I posted a short statement on my Facebook page, which was as follows:

"Another senseless shooting spree at a primary school over the pond. Twenty-seven lives lost, eighteen of them little more than babies. Love & sympathy to all those affected by this atrocity. The lives lost is sickening enough, but one of the worst things is knowing that this will happen again, when another sicko decides it's time to go on a rampage. All the love, sympathy and prayers are not going to bring back those innocent victims. Cut the crap & stop the debate on whether it is your 'right' to own a firearm if you choose. Civilians shouldn't be allowed guns, end of debate. It won't stop this from happening again, but the risk will be greatly reduced, and if even one innocent child is saved by this, surely it is worth sacrificing the 'right' to own something that is lethal in the wrong hands."

I rarely post a serious status update. I rarely get on a soapbox and 'preach'. But when I got home yesterday, my FB feed was, understandably, full of status updates about what happened yesterday. While nearly every single status expressed shock, support and sympathy for the victims, the majority ALSO contained reasons why guns should or shouldn't be considered a constitutional 'right' to own or not.

I don't pretend to know the gun legislation of all (or any) countries, and I don't pretend to understand the ins and outs of the constitutional rights of American citizens. But what I DO understand is that FAR too many people start throwing political arguments around in the aftermaths of these horrible situations, and it makes my blood boil.

The thing that really got my back up was seeing x amount of people churning out the 'guns don't kill people, people do' argument (or various forms of it). I'm sorry, but no. You can play on words as much as you like, but while this sentiment is technically true, the simple fact is you can't shoot people unless you have a gun.

Sadly, we all know that this won't be the last time that something like this happens. And it's not restricted to America, it happens the world over. The inescapable truth is that while we all proclaim outrage and disgust whenever something like this occurs, we have become cynically desensitised to it. While we are fighting to keep our rights, we are forgetting the very real consequences of them.

The truth is that the majority of these tragedies occur when an unbalanced person loses control and proceeds to do something that would normally be as alien to them as it is to anyone else. It is also true that an inanimate object cannot be blamed, just the person who is wielding it.

But you cannot argue against logic. Twenty-seven people would not have been shot yesterday if guns were not so easily accessible. While everyone was debating their constitutional right to own a gun in America, somewhere in China a similar event unfolded. Another unbalanced person entered a school with an intent to hurt a large number of people, children included. This person, however, did not have a gun.  His intentions were clearly much the same as the shooter in Connecticut, but his choice of spreading chaos was to stab as many people as he could. This event was just as horrific as the shootings in Connecticut, but with one highly significant difference. There were no fatalities. More than twenty children (and one adult), will have nightmares for the rest of their lives probably, but they are alive. Not so those poor victims in Connecticut.

There will always be mentally ill people in the world. There will always be people who suddenly, sometimes without any kind of warning, lose control and temporarily become a killing machine. This will never be controlled. But we can at least attempt to control the weapon of choice that these people use during their flights of madness.

While everyone debates over whether they should have the right to own a gun or not, the consequences are buried beneath political rants. As I said in my original status update, cut the crap and end the debate. Civilians should not be able to own a gun. As a weapon, it is one of the most destructive. Take it out of their hands, and an unbalanced person has fewer options to spread their murderous intent. It will not STOP their murderous intent, but the consequences just might not be so severe, as the events in China yesterday clearly demonstrated.

There are those of you who will say that making guns illegal will not stop people from getting one, and you would be right. Making something illegal does not stop people from obtaining it. But it makes it much more difficult, and that is surely a very big step in the right direction.

Maybe once the debate for owning a gun has been removed, we can start to address the bigger problem which is, sadly, perhaps pushed to one side whenever these atrocities happen. While we keep debating over the gun issue, nothing is being done to address the very real underlying problem. Take away the gun part of the issue, and start focusing on the social problem instead. As a society, we have become far too blase about violence in general. We mouth platitudes and sympathy when things like this happen. We mouth them genuinely, but they are platitudes nonetheless.

We need more education and support in place for the mentally ill. There will always be people who slip through the net, but maybe, just maybe, we can help and support these people before they reach snapping point.

And when we can't? Maybe they will be unable to get hold of a gun, as the man in China couldn't. Maybe they will set out to kill as many people as they can, but will fail.

Cut the crap. End the debate. Guns DO kill people.


  1. Tara I share your outrage at yesterday's senselessness. As an American citizen I do appreciate the right to bear arms but do not understand we don't make it harder to get one. I know there has to be a way to accomplish this if the politicians would just step up and stop quibbling. You mentioned being cynically desensitised and you are right. This is where I think parents have to step up and remove the violent games/movies/television etc. from there children's (and their own) daily lives. Let them be children for pete's sake, it doesn't last long enough (just ask any mature adult) as it is.

    1. I'll have to respectfully disagree... I really don't get the whole 'right to have a gun if we want' thing. I get that we all have basic human rights... freedom of speech, freedom of sexual orientation, etc etc. But I don't get how having the right to a lethal weapon is on the same level. Maybe it's because the UK doesn't have the same constitutional structure as America, and so I have never had to think of things like this too much.

      The issue with violent movies/games etc is a seperate thing, I think. These things have age guidelines in place, and I FULLY agree that children should be kept away from them. It's a bit of a grey area though, when it comes to adults. Most people understand that games and movies are NOT real. The people that don't fall into that group, are people who are susceptible to periods of imbalance regardless of whether or not they have watched a violet movie or played a violent game.

      Educating a child from an early age of what is right and what is wrong is the best place to start, as is sheilding them from harmful influences until they are old enough to comprehend them fully.

      There is no easy answer though, is there?

  2. I don't think removing violent games/movies/television is the answer, I did watched tons of action (violent) movies and horror movies and played lots of video games in which you used weapons (halo, resident evil, etc) and it didn't make me a killer or a psycho or anything mentally unstable ... but I do believe in Tara's point that access to guns should be either forbidden or at least restricted to the maximum and that'll decrease the probabilities that things like what happened in Connecticut go again ... the example with the same even in China without access to a gun is a perfect example that guns are the problem, not just people!

    1. *nods* I don't think removing violent media is the answer either, though as Weesa said I DO think it should be restricted from minors.

      But yes, I think the similar event in China was an excellent contrast, and clearly demonstrated the need for guns to not be so easily available. The same underlying problems are there - ie no support for the mentally unstable - but look at how differently the end result was. You can't always cure the mentally ill unfortunately, but you CAN take away their tools of destruction.

  3. The right to bear arms was written into the Constitution at a time when people were basically on their own for defense and when you had to go out and hunt for dinner. There are still avid hunters that provide for their families dinner table with their guns. People are sadly still having to defend themselves in their own homes. Providing better support for the mentally unstable is a must whether they are violent or not because they deserve to have safe happy lives too. I know there are adults who will say that they play/watch violent things all the times and it doesn't turn them into killers. The problem is that they become less sensitive to real world violence. It's gotten to the point where you can't turn on the television without seeing some sort of unnaceptable behaviour that the broadcasters feel is entertaining while protesting that they don't condone it. There are no easy answers but the first step has to be the politicians setting aside their differences and working together to create stricter guidelines and equally strict penalties.

    1. Yeah, I get what you're saying. The thing is, the flaw is right there in your first sentence. The right to bear arms was written in long ago and needs to be addressed because we are obviously living in different times. In some ways, it's not even so much the constitution, it's how it's interpreted. When kids are brought up with their rights drummed into them, it doesn't always work in their favour. Guns end up being treated as an everyday thing, which they are very obviously not. Everyone has the potential to snap, whether they have mentally unstable or not. If there is a gun in the house, who knows what would happen. You can't predict. And this is why I think they shouldn't e allowed in everyday homes. I'm not dismissing anybody's rights, I just think the world would be a far safe place if there weren't so many guns.

      As to the violent movies/games... I can't deny that you make sense. And you are right about the politicians, though honestly, I have no faith in them in doing anything substantial. Sadly, the majority are power-hungry vote-grabbers and are too cowardly to do anything that doesn't suit their own personal agenda.

      Not that I'm cynical or anything...