Mass Shootings, Gun Control, and a Right To Bear Arms
Another Mass Shooting, Another Open Letter
I penned this open letter following the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. It was originally posted on Medium. Now it lives here.
The 2017 Las Vegas shooting was a mass shooting on the night of October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured. Between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m. PDT, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after he fired his last shot into the crowd, he was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His motive remains unknown.
Dear Responsible Gun Owners (who are worried about gun control legislation infringing on your right to bear arms),
Let me start by saying:
I do not want to take away your guns.
No lawmaker is going to take away your right to own a firearm. I am okay with that. I am okay with you having guns. I am okay with hunters, with gun enthusiasts, target shooters, and people who feel more protected with a gun in their home. I, and most of the other snowflakes I know, are perfectly fine with responsible gun owners having their guns.
However, it seems to me that responsible gun owners would agree that setting rules around the sale/purchase of weapons is a smart move. So, a few things I think we should talk about:
What rights should a person convicted of domestic violence have? What if they have been convicted more than once? At what point does this person lose their right to owning a gun? At what point does the system start enforcing relinquishment rules for someone who has 1+ domestic violence convictions?
What possible reason, outside of sheer entertainment (or the zombie apocalypse), does a civilian have for owning a military grade automatic/semiautomatic weapon? A weapon designed to take as many lives as possible in the shortest amount of time? What kind of training/licensing should be required for this? What kind of background check? What kind of sales process?
What kind of safety do we have a right to? Do I have a right to feel safe going to a music festival? How about a shopping mall? A movie theater? A night club?
What about a school? Do I have a right to feel safe going to a school? Do I have a right to feel safe sending my kids to their elementary school every day? What about my high schooler? My college student? Do I have a right to feel safe about sending them to school every day?
Food for thought:
A person with a SEIZURE DISORDER is required to prove that their medical condition is under control for a specific length of time prior to being given a driver’s license.
A person with a MENTAL ILLNESS (as diagnosed by a medical professional) has to provide ZERO proof that their medical condition is under control in order to purchase a gun.
In fact, regardless of diagnosis by a medical professional, a person shall onlybe restricted from purchasing/owning a firearm under the following conditions :
(a) A DETERMINATION BY A COURT, BOARD, COMMISSION, or OTHER LAWFUL AUTHORITY that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease:
(1) Is a danger to himself or to others; or
(2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
(b) The term shall include —
(1) A FINDING OF INSANITY BY A COURT IN A CRIMINAL CASE; and
(2) Those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to articles 50a and 72b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 850a, 876b.
Our law says that a medical professional’s diagnosis isn’t sufficient. It says that a determination of mental illness must be made in a courtroom. Not cool.
I know that the whole country feels stricken by what happened in Las Vegas. I feel it. My family feels it. I know you feel it. Just like Orlando. Sandy Hook. San Bernadino. Aurora. Lawrence. Just like every other time a mass shooting took over the headlines.
It’s heartbreaking, and frustrating, and frightening as hell.
But let me reiterate:
I don’t want to take away your guns.
Seriously. I seriously do not give a shit if you own a gun (or several) as long as you are responsible about it.
In my opinion, blindly stomping around, proclaiming your 2nd amendment right to lots and lots of guns — even the ones designed for military use — isn’t responsible.
Maybe you don’t know this — maybe no one has pointed it out to you, or maybe you just can’t see around your passion for the topic — but, here’s the thing: when you do that — the immediate jump to shouting “hands off my guns,” or “from my cold, dead hands,” or “my second amendment rights”?
When you do that, you seem like an insensitive, selfish prick. It seems like you’ve decided to stubbornly dig your heels in, like you’re unwilling (or incapable) of a rational discussion about common sense gun reform.
That’s not you, is it? Are you really incapable of having a rational discussion about this? I don’t think so. I think we can do this. All of us — liberal snowflakes and conservative…raindrop? — can have a rational discussion about how to make our country safe, without giving up your guns.
If making laws against the personal purchase/ownership of WEAPONS OF WAR means we can reduce the number of mass murders in the US, even by a measly 50% annually…isn’t it worth doing?
Thanks for listening,