the bloodletting

I’ve waited a few days to write this, so I could cool down and be less angry when I finally did it. Regardless of your political leanings or feelings on this subject, I’m gonna offend somebody. Fine. Be offended. But we all need to think long and hard about this.

There’s a subject that no politician seems to be willing to touch lately, for fear of alienating voters and causing an outcry. By now, we’ve heard of several mass shootings throughout the country (Aurora, the Sikh Temple, The Empire State Building), and the homicide numbers in Chicago are rising fast. To date, we’re at 1,200+ non-fatal shootings in the city, and 350+ homicides.

The consensus is that guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people. And this is partially true. Guns don’t act on their own. Somebody has to pull the trigger and start the reaction to expel the bullets. But the idea that loosening restrictions and allowing more people to carry guns through concealed carry programs is, in my estimation, fuzzy logic.

Guns are designed, in their primary function, to kill. Guns came into being for defense purposes in the late 1200s in China, though its predecessor, the fire lance, can be traced to the late 900s. Since then, they have evolved to be more precise, dangerous, and damaging. Originally, only military and defense forces were allowed to have them due to lethality and danger to the general populace.

Until the creation of my least-favorite of the amendments in the US Constitution, the Second Amendment. It reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The amendment was originally written in time of war, during a time when it was young and still at risk of being dissolved by our former British masters. Jefferson wrote it to arm and authorize the formation of a domestic defense force, to protect against insurrection and invasion against outside forces.

Over the past two and a half centuries, it has evolved into a beating stick. One side of the argument uses the well-worn declaration, “You will take my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.” The other side decries guns and all actions related to them.

I write fiction. For years, I wrote about a man who came from a society in the distant future where poverty, hunger, and violence were nonexistent. His ancestors realized that fighting among themselves was not progress, and they cast off the ways that restrained their evolution as a culture. In their history books, they referred to our era of history as “The Bloodletting.” More violence per capita has occurred in the last 200 years than during any era of history, and it’s only getting worse. Our progress has to start somewhere.

These are my suggestions related to guns and violence. They will not be popular, and somebody will not agree with me, and that’s fine.

1. An immediate moratorium on the sale of guns over .22 caliber with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, to anyone under the age of 30 with no previous record of purchasing a firearm. The only exception in this case is law enforcement personnel (because they are required to carry a backup, which the police force does not supply).

2. An immediate, sweeping ban on the sale of all assault weapons. Because, let’s face it, if the guy who shot up the movie theatre in Aurora can get a hold of one of these monsters, I can sure as hell go to a gun shop in the suburbs and buy an MP-5 with no trouble. These weapons are designed to wound and kill multiple people, and are, therefore, weapons of mass destruction.

3. A restriction on the sale of ammunition of guns over .25 caliber to one case every 90 days. Again, only law enforcement are exempt (because they have to buy their own ammo).

4. A thorough review and overhaul of this country’s mental health programs. The people who committed these mass shootings are clearly not mentally fit, and therefore should not be in possession of any firearm.

5. An immediate ban on the sale of any firearm of any kind to anyone with a criminal background, and especially to those with a history of violent crime. Any attempt by a violent criminal to purchase a firearm, or even possess a firearm, should result in immediate incarceration.

6. An immediate ban on the sale of any firearm of any kind to anyone with a history of mental illness.

7. An immediate cease-fire between all street gangs and organized crime syndicates.

8. Mandatory gun registration and education to any new buyers of handguns and hunting-style weapons such as rifles and shotguns.

9. A civilizing of our dialogue. An end to the blind screaming and yelling and divisive arguing. Because while it may not be bloody, it is still violence. Instead of just firing volleys of vitriol and hate, I suggest a moratorium. A conversation, calm, mature, and reasoned, must take its place.

In my personal opinion, no person, except military and law enforcement personnel, should possess a gun. They are dangerous, and in the wrong hands, deadly. We are supposed to be people living in an advanced society, and we are supposed to look out for each other. Over the past few decades, however, we have moved into a Darwinist mentality, which has led to increased violence, anger, ignorance, apathy, and hatred toward each other. We refuse to work together, which leads to divisiveness and exclusion. The arc of history is supposed to bend toward justice and progress. Lately, however, it’s bending the other way.

 

Stand together. Or fall apart.

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