In one scene, Snipes attempts to construct a gun as lightly-armed police officers close in to apprehend him. He proceeds to wipe out the entire squad. “We’re not trained to handle this kind of violence!” one officer exclaims.
This comes to mind every time the inevitable gun-control debate rages after a mass shooting. Who wouldn’t want a society so peaceful and free of violence that not even law enforcement officers carry lethal weapons? Unfortunately, that’s not the society we live in, but we’re closer to it than we’re led to believe.
According to the Pew Research Center, violent crime has “fallen sharply,” between 49% and 74% over the last generation. Moreover, after cresting in the 1970s and 1980s, the murder rate has halved to around 5 people per 100,000 citizens. Regrettably, this type of news doesn’t get ratings and is incompatible with opportunistic political narratives.
It also provides inadequate fodder for us to blow off steam.
Instead, one tribe exploits the tragedy to insult the spirituality of the other by ripping the supposed fecklessness of “thoughts & prayers,” while the other tribe retorts with assertions of naiveté. We’re both guilty of this. Less hotheaded dialogue is more likely to build a consensus behind possible enhancements to our security.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow judges, via so-called “red-flag” laws, to order authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed to be a threat to the safety of family and/or law enforcement. The problem is that this runs afoul of the “due process” clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Tighten that up by allowing the gun owner to defend herself before permitting the seizure of her property, along with enacting “criminal penalties for anyone bringing false accusations,” as the Wall Street Journal suggested recently, and perhaps more support could be garnered for this safeguard.
We could discuss other proposals, but the way we all tend to talk to each other concerns us nearly as much. This is something we feel should be addressed, starting with words like that, “should.”
We’ve talked to our daughters before (six between us) about “needs,” “wants,” etc.: “You don’t need the latest smartphone; you want the latest smartphone.” Some folks seem peculiarly comfortable instructing other adults in similar fashion: “No one should own a semi-automatic rifle. Why do you need one?”
We’re entitled to our respective opinions, and to live life by our own personal set of values. When did we become so presumptuous though, as to impose them on others?
By the same token, perhaps calling into question people’s ability to control their emotions after such slaughters is out of bounds as well. Who isn’t saddened when the news breaks? The most heinous amongst these unspeakable acts, when the victims are children, put every loving parent on edge when their phone flashes a subsequent news alert.
Similarly, there’s a disregard for those who connect the dots between something like the precipitous slide in Venezuelan society, and the part of the second amendment that was intended as a check against an oppressive national government.
The once-prosperous South American nation banned the private sale of guns in 2012 ostensibly to address “criminal violence.” That didn’t work, serving only to leave the general populace “defenseless.”
Incidentally, those who push for more “sensible gun control” tend to be the same ones who support politicos who favor greater taking of personal property and more restrictions on individual liberty.
Once triggered, the pro-gun crowd will respond with denunciations like “you’re weak,” “you’re a coward,” “you can’t protect your own family,” and the all-CAPS cycle goes back into full-swing. When did we become so brazen as to discard decorum just because the text on the screen is coming from hundreds of miles away?
We’ve been around this block too many times.
After we’re done converting our passions into a withering fire of social media posts, we fall back on outsourcing our individual conclusions to ready-made demagogues eager to translate these sentiments into votes.
These master panderers are willing to do so regardless if it means criminalizing some of the most law-abiding citizens, nevermind that the rifles currently in their crosshairs are used in many fewer homicides than handguns. Moreover, it’s difficult to tell whether these so-called leaders are ignorant of the law, or if their motives exist on a slippery slope given how wide of a net they use to classify “semiautomatic.”
While these cyber-combatants and their (prospective) representatives are going at it, we’re sitting here wondering if Americans have simply become lazy about our personal safety.
We know background checks, even when properly executed, are not terribly effective. At our most logical core, we know gun-free zones are target-rich environments, and ever since we’ve been watching cops-and-robbers shows, we know, by definition, that criminals do not follow the law. They’re going to get what they want, whether it’s banned weapons or materials to make a bomb.
We can’t even fully rely on the police. The Supreme Court affirmed as much, 7-2, when they declared in Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005) that the cops have no “constitutional duty to protect a person from harm.” We are our own first line of defense.
Yet, as the manufacture of firearms and applications for concealed permits have both risen in recent years, the percentage of ownership among American households has trended down for more than a generation.
We’re not saying everyone should own a firearm. They are clearly intimidating and dangerous objects. Just like knives or chemicals, mishandling them can cause serious injury, and obviously death.
It’s not a stretch though, to believe that there is room at the margins to add a few folks with an “if not me, then who?” attitude.
All of us would be scared beyond measure to be in the middle of something so terrifying, but there are some of us who couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t attempt to thwart the attack, or run headlong toward the danger in order to save others.
“I grab as many (kids) as possible because that’s what I was trained to do,” said Private First Class Glendon Oakley of his heroics during the recent shooting in El Paso.
There are no guarantees in life, particularly in the midst of such a chaotic situation. However, if more citizens found “if not me, then who?” within themselves, it’s hard to argue we wouldn’t be safer.
While fear would naturally be our first instinct, take a minute right now to imagine what would be at stake. What is the shooter threatening? Lives are at risk, some of whom may be your family. When someone is a menace to your child’s survival, what is your attitude toward that person?
A little more than fifteen years after “Speed,” Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for portraying just such a parent.
No longer in the idyllic haven of 2032 San Angeles, where “anything that is not good for you is … illegal,” she was staring down a gang-banger in “The Blind Side,” on his turf, after he threatened her son, assuring him that she’s “always packin’.” No doubt a little nervous and fearful during this confrontation, there was a noticeable tinge of anger in her tone.
A similar mix could be what’s driving El Paso residents in droves to concealed-carry training, and why churches are beefing up security measures for parishioners. Maybe we’d be better served turning our ire away from each other, and channeling this fear and anger toward utilizing this constitutional right we are fortunate to have.