As a born and bred Texas gal, I grew up around guns. My dad had guns in the house and other than the 'leave them alone' safety lesson, we paid them no mind. They were as ordinary as silverware on the table. Uncles visited the deer lease each year where they killed dinner for the freezer and hung the dead heads of past hunts on the living room wall. Trucks often had rifle racks which were clearly visible as your rode down the street - and no, we didn't live in the country. This was in suburbia! At 16 I began visiting the gun range with my dad and learned how to clean and load a gun and shoot in a cluster. The safety 'lesson' now included the stern warning "Never point a gun at anyone you don't intend to kill."
Guns = a last resort method of self defense. I got it.
As a young single woman, I took a gun safety course, applied for and received my concealed carry license. I carried my gun, purchased at a gun show with my dad, when out at night and occasionally on dates. I know it sounds weird now, but at the time it seemed like the thing to do.
Guns = because a young, single woman is only safe at the grocery store at night if she is packing. I got it.
Now, as a long married mom, I have long let the concealed license lapse and wouldn't dream of carrying a gun. I multi-task too much to be focused enough to use one... even in a dire emergency and would most likely end up hurting myself or another good guy or, God forbid, a kid could get to it. But, I get the idea behind our gun laws and the force of those who relish our 'God given and country backed' right to own and carry guns.
Guns= bad guys have guns so good guys need guns to be safe. I got it.
But then... why aren't the good guys shooting back? Why aren't any of the gazillion guns legally owned by private citizens in this country used to stop mass shootings? Or shootings in general? When was the last time you heard on the news that Joe Citizen stopped a bad guy and DIDN'T face unbelievable back lash?
I found this very interesting. Armed civilians do not actually stop mass shootings. Sometimes shootings happen in 'gun free zones' and sometimes the shooting is over by the time an armed civilian gets there. Once, the 'students' who stopped a mass shooting were actually off duty police so I'm not sure that counts. Police don't like the idea of an armed John Wayne because it makes it hard to tell the bad guys from the good guys. When bullets are flying police need to make very quick decisions and it must be hard to tell who is who.
How many guns in America? Oddly and interestingly... there are NO exact numbers. Can you believe that? People apparently don't want big brother to know about their guns. But the closest number is 347,000,000 according to Gary Kleck from Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. Read more and see the crazy graph here. That is a LOT of guns. So why are mass shootings... of clearly unarmed people so common?
How common is it anyway? This year, which isn't over by the way, has seen 353 mass shootings already. Sometimes more than once a day -- here in the good 'old USA. The San Bernardino, CA shooting recently overshadowed another mass shooting the same day in Georgia. Let that sink in... we were so shocked at the mass shooting in CA that we didn't even hear about the mass shooting in GA the very. same. day. Can you believe we are even discussing this insanity? How very, very sad.
Sad. And pathetic. Aren't we better than this? The GREATEST country in the world and this is the best we can do? I just don't get it.
The rest of the world laughs at us. They think of us as either gun toting John Wayne types or gansta.... weirdos. Wonderful. The greatest country on Earth and they are laughing at us.
Worse? They, foreign traveling families, are worried about visiting us.
We read all about people scared (and rightly so, I understand) about visiting Paris and Syria and Iran and Mexico and other places in the world because of violence. But we are now one of them... those places... too dangerous to visit. People getting shot in the street, in schools, and at a Christmas party.
When we visited Turkey we were a little nervous as things in Syria were heating up. In conversations with the Istanbul travel agent I worked with, I was told that her Turkish friends thought she was crazy for visiting the U.S. because so many people had guns and kids were getting shot in the schools. I was shocked at this attitude because I had never considered the U.S. an unsafe place, but... perhaps now it is... unsafe... just like "those" places we would never dream of visiting. Who am I to reassure her? I'm worried about visiting her country but there are mass shootings EVERY day here. What would you tell someone who was worried about visiting the US?
So... what now?
I think it is time to meet in the middle. I totally 100% get that gun owners feel strongly about keeping their guns and those against guns feel strongly about getting rid of guns, but our all or nothing approach just isn't working. Let's all take a deep breath and think for a minute.
Gun owners consider this:
How prepared are you to defend yourself? Do you really carry your concealed weapon to the company Christmas party? And is your gun really accessible or is it shoved in the far bottom of your purse or briefcase? I can't find my reading glasses in my purse...imagine trying to quickly find a gun when someone was shooting at you! Are you really ready? Positive - 100% positive you could accurately shoot another person while trying not to get shot yourself while hiding under the table at the company Christmas party?
Non gun owners consider this:
What about legal hunting? Are guns ok for that? Maybe not AK47s, but a rifle? What about keeping a gun in the house for the intruder? Again not an Uzi but a handgun?
We need to put our heads together and come up with something. Something. Because the greatest country on Earth can DO BETTER.
Safe travels... wherever they take you -- across the world or to your company Christmas party.