Guns, Balls, and Batman

nerfgunI think I feel like writing this blog about as much as I did the blog about the fiscal cliff or about Chik-Fil-A. I don’t anticipate changing anyone’s mind although I am completely unable to not sound off.

Months ago, after the shooting near my home in Colorado, I questioned on social media why we so desperately need semi-automatic assault rifles available to the public with little or no background checks or screening. My other specific area of concern was the previously illegal magazines that carry hundreds of rounds of ammunition and allow a shooter to continue shooting without reloading. I realize that a lot of people might not know, but for a decade there was a ban on the exact ammunition used to kill masses of people both in the theater in Colorado, and again more recently in the elementary school in Connecticut. The ban was overturned. Another in a long list of disastrous moves by the recent Bush administration.

Even though I never even suggested banning any gun, I guess I was not surprised in the least that the overwhelming response from my “friends” on social media was to blast me for my statement about gun control laws.  Although I was not surprised that people disagree, I was entirely surprised about the reasons that came out so freely and honestly. I expected semi-rational statements about the 2nd amendment and the rights of hunters, sportsmen and people generally concerned about preserving individual civil liberties or constitutional rights. That is the argument I have heard in the past and what I expected. No, in 2012, what I got from those that were staunchly and dramatically opposed to any sort of gun law reform felt that way because they were genuinely fearful for their lives and safety.  They feel that they honestly need quick and easy access to all of these weapons and extreme ammunition because they believe that there is a very good chance that they will need to use them to protect themselves from a mass murderer or even more possibly, our own government or police. This was news to me. I guess I knew of paranoid people like Timothy McVeigh and others that insanely believe that they are in danger from the government and I have long suspected that this was the sentiment behind quite a few of the “sportsman” in the NRA although no one really admitted it. Somewhere along the line, as a society, I guess we stopped having to pretend that we were not scared out of our minds and crazy like McVeigh. That is what surprised me the most.

Although I do realize that it is not productive, whenever I hear or read the rants of gun nuts, my initial gut reaction is to just marvel about how truly child-like a great number of the minds in our society are. There is absolutely no logic between that belief system and reality. None. Your chances of being killed by a gunman, terrorist, or the government in this country are still very, very close to zero although it does go up slightly if you are carrying a weapon yourself. That is reality. Then again the people of our country will spend 5 billion dollars this year for individual 1 in 175,223,510 chances to win money in Powerball, so I really shouldn’t be all that surprised.

Just one question for all of those that are preparing for the government that is going to try to disarm you.  If the government does decide to go rogue and disarm the citizens, are they going to send someone to your door with small arms, or are you going to simply find yourself an unrecognizable pile of rubble that is spread out about 1000 feet in all directions before you even realize that you are no longer watching the gun and knife home shopping show?

I think it is also very interesting to read the recent stories about Israel and the “Iron dome” that protects them from missiles and what a giant success it has been based on the number of missiles it has shot down. Maybe we should all just move to Israel and hide with them under that protective dome. On second thought, maybe I will pass on that idea. If you look at the number of missiles and bombs that have been launched at them and that are reaching their target during the same time you really have to scratch your head and wonder how someone comes to the conclusion they do looking at the exact same set of stats as someone else.

Through my wife who is a former elementary school principal, I also know first hand about school safety programs, and the mandatory intruder and security lock-down drills they all now practice as a result of Columbine and others school shootings. My wife has actually been “the gunman” and she has had to comb the hallways of the school she worked looking for weaknesses in a lock-down scenario drill. When I hear her tell about this and how stressful this can be, it sure is hard for me to not think now about just how many times the real “gunman” in Connecticut sat hiding under his school desk during a gunman intruder drill over the last few years. Maybe it is time that Israel and our upper level school administrators do a little critical thinking around this issue before coming up with any additional knee jerk efforts to “protect” people.

Your chances of dying in a car wreck or being killed by your wife, husband, or your own child are far better than dying from a random act of violence. It is just the truth plain and simple. Heck, your chances of dying on a ski trip to Colorado, or being struck by lightning are actually significantly higher. I am not even going to get into the danger to your life that arises from the Marlboro you are sucking on, or the can of Diet Coke you are sucking down, while you rock back and forth clutching that AR-15 in fear. Stress and anxiety have been known to shorten a few lives too. The statistics behind that are not exactly insignificant either.

After I am done scratching my head and done contemplating how small a mind would have to get before it ceases to exist, I am usually then struck by a bit of pity. Yes, I feel for those that have lost their lives or loved ones in tragedy, but even more, I feel pity for the unbelievable number of citizens in our country that live with never ending fear and anxiety. Like most, I have had times in my life where I have battled worry, and anxiety. I know it is not fun at all! But when I replace that work or school deadline that has generated so much anxiety for me, with the thought of a mad gunman breaking into my home and mutilating my entire family in front of my eyes, I begin to have, at least somewhat of, a better understanding of the fears we are facing and why they are so powerful.

I understand the emotion associated with tragedies like these and why they generate such personal feelings and irrational fear. So many parents send their kids off to school with the deep belief that they are safe. Whether or not that actually changes in reality is sort of irrelevant.  When we see tragedy we put ourselves in the place of the victim, we embody what they are going through, their thoughts, their feelings, grief, and fear. We see our children among the faces of the dead and the rush of emotion overwhelms us. The 24/7 media circus also disproportionately and strategically highlights specific tragedies that will be emotional to us in an intentional and unintentional plot to increase ratings and public hysteria.

I am also, always so confused as to how a person can put themselves so completely and fully into the lives and reality of an unknown child or parent in Connecticut but the same person can still be so 100% completely immune and disconnected to a news story of a baby that’s head was blown off by a predator drone launched from our own military. How about our soldier that snapped and killed 17 innocent civilians including children just a while ago in Afghanistan? How many of these innocent victims were memorialized nightly on our evening news? Are those babies somehow less human to us than the ones in Connecticut? Are the same tears streaming from Barack Obama’s eye’s when he reads of the innocent people killed by an attack he ordered? I am aware of the casualties inherent in war, but I also am aware of the dangers of living in an open and free society. How are some so completely personally ambivalent to one scenario, while completely emotionally invested in the other? Our minds sure are amazing, complicated, and dangerous.

I use to love to go to the movies. I loved the superhero movies and I could sit all day and watch Han Solo, Superman, or Batman save humanity from Darth Vader, Lex Luthor, or the Joker. As a child I could literally place myself myself in the hero position and I could follow up a good film with about a 1000 hours of play with toy guns, imaginary hostages, as well as make believe gunfire and explosions that I could create very well with my own voice and mouth. The thrill of re-enacting these scenes in my mind was absolutely exhilarating. I would wear costumes and even become the characters, heroes or villains I saw on TV and in the movies. My parents allowed me to indulge my fantasy play, but at the end of the day, it was time to put away the toys, take off the costumes, and return to reality. They were not overly impressed or threatened by my love of make believe and the line between fantasy and reality was fortunately made very clear to me early on. As I got older, I noticed that in school, it seemed that some kids never put away their toys at the end of the day. They really sort of lived their lives as GI Joe, even at school, and even relatively late into middle school, high school…and for many, it appears even later. I sure do see quite a few young GI Joes, Batmen and Princesses all over the place today, and what I see with at least some, is that the line between fantasy and reality sure seems paper thin.

I don’t really go to the movies anymore or watch television dramas. Occasionally a flick will peak my interest and my wife and I still do rent a movie or two now and then. However, the current set of blockbuster films and popular network television shows just do not resonate with us in the least. The “Dark Night”, and other films I have seen parts of do not even resemble the types of movies I watched years ago. They are long, dark, complicated, violent, realistic, and the story lines closely mirror the types of real life situations we see glorified in the news everyday. As I watch these films and see their audience, I realize that these are not kids movies in the least. They are written to draw in the same kids that were enamored with the same types of movies that were made for them as children years ago. For many adults these movies are merely a two to three hour exciting break from the reality of life just like they were for them as a kid years ago. However, for a few of the GI Joe’s or Jokers in our society, it seems the line between fantasy and reality is no clearer now for them as parents as it was when they were kids themselves. Throw into the mix, a decade of real warfare and terror, realistic virtual reality video games, and a handful of pharmaceuticals and we really don’t need six different versions of CSI. We can just watch CNN.

So what do we do about this from a societal standpoint? Yes, I support gun law reform such as ending gun show loopholes and limiting the type of mass murder ammunition that is manufactured and sold to the public, but no, I do not ultimately believe that this is the answer to our problems. Just like drug laws, if you deal strictly with the access to the substance and not the chemical imbalance behind the need for it, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot; or in the head 100 times in only a few seconds, depending on how you look at it. Just the mere anticipation of gun laws and reform causes gun sales and societal paranoia to go through the roof.  We have to make sure that the ideology that we have and the gun laws we do pass do not have the exact opposite effect on the intended outcome they way we do with our current drug laws.

Guns and gun ownership is such a macho thing in today’s society. Isn’t it interesting that the ones that need the most are also, quite obviously, the biggest fearful cowards. I also find it funny that it seems a lot of the extremely paranoid gun owners live out in the middle of nowhere where they stockpile “protection” from a madman that they invent with their own fear. Others like myself have Crips and Bloods competing nightly for painting space on our trashcan but we really can’t even envision needing a can of pepper spray.

Yes, ultimately, we do have to get a hold of our own societal fear and collective paranoia but it has to start from the top. Just as some individuals in our society think they are Batman, so do quite a few in our Federal government. If Obama, or others in government want to truly help the people of this country then they need to do exactly what all the parents of this country need to do. Grow a set of BALLS! Realize that your fear and paranoia is putting a bulls-eye on our countries back, and our kids’ heads.

Instead of looking to imaginary superheros and weapons of mass destruction, we need to look to the true men and women of bravery and courage in our society and in history. Look at Rosa Parks, Gandhi, the Buddha, Jesus, Mother Teresa, MLK, or that student that stood fearlessly in front of that tank in China. These men and women are examples of true courage and true bravery, and these are the people that actually make a difference in the world and that are worthy of hero worship! Not fearful cowards like Tim McVeigh, George W. Bush, or anyone that believes they need an assault rifle with a 100 round magazine in order to protect children.

As frustrating as this issue can be, I do firmly believe we are finally hitting societal “rock bottom” when it comes to fear. I believe the shift is coming and I can literally feel the warm blanket of love and bravery hovering above us, although just out of reach! Can you feel it too?

Yes, make no mistake, it is just exactly the same for a vicious killer pitbull, an Islamic terrorist, or a mad gunman. It is our collective fear and paranoia that creates them and gives them power, not what stops them. The sooner we realize this and actually start reading and understanding our scriptures instead of demanding that others do, the sooner the killing and fear will end, and love will reign over all.