Friday, December 28, 2012

Gun Control on My Homeworld

11/52 Consolation (Snowflakes for Sandy Hook)
11/52 Consolation (Snowflakes for Sandy Hook) (Photo credit: Nica Wolf)
Those affected by recent tragedies have my sincere condolences.

First off, my father worked on my planet's equivalent of guns and my planet has paid hunters. I know of other planets where lethal weapons are completely nonexistent except for historical texts and those are very strange places to me. My perspective on gun control is one of both realities and possibilities.

I've known many people who were/are enthusiastic about target shooting, hunting, and collecting and maintaining historical guns (my father fell in the last category). These are intelligent people who treat guns responsibly and teach those under their care to do the same. Unfortunately, I know all too well that these are not the only people, especially in the United States, who have guns. The issue is not intentional violence by legal gun owners. In fact, almost no one commits a violent crime with a registered gun they legally own. The problem is carelessness because guns are so easily accessible by anyone in any circumstance.

What am I talking about? I call your attention to this story:
Man arrested for hunting on school property 

No harm done. It was an innocent mistake. Still, it is a story of an out of place gun that could have easily harmed innocent people. In the face of a tragedy such as what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, everyone from the President to the stay-at-home mom is asking what we should do. Those gun owners who feel nothing should be done might consider opening their hearts to all those who are suffering because of an out of place gun. True, it wasn't the gun's fault, but it is undeniable that in each tragedy someone should not have had a gun.

On my home planet, guns are not kept in the home. It's just always been that way. People are free to own or rent guns that are stored in a monitored facility. To check out a gun, you speak to a security officer. If you are angry, upset, or your ID shows you have a record of violence, you don't get a gun. Obviously, that isn't something most people on Earth are ready for, but it certainly limited violence on my planet. Many would say such a system is too harsh. In the current social/political climate in the United States, such a system is almost unimaginable, and there are so many illegal and unregistered guns it is unworkable. So what can be done?

One meaningful action would be to lend a helping hand to those in need. When people are desperate or sick, they are more likely to become dangerous. No one should be suffering so intensely because basic needs aren't met, including the need for mental health treatment/intervention. My perspective on mental illness is simple. No one person should ever be left to care for a mentally ill person alone. Community support is the only way to ensure an out of control person doesn't do harm. Help should be readily available whether it's an out of control child or adult. No judgements. No question of what health insurance will cover.

The second more difficult consideration is how to keep guns in their place. Right now, there is so much bitterness between those who support gun rights and those who support gun control that it is difficult to have a meaningful dialogue. Keep in mind everyone wants to feel safe and that may mean different things to different people, but everyone wants personal freedom and a peaceful existence. We all have the power to create and share peace. If you are a gun enthusiast please keep an eye out within your community for issues, such as unsafe gun storage, mental instability in a home with guns, or hunting in inappropriate areas. Do not be afraid to report problem gun owners to the police. It is terrible that so many people live in fear of having their guns taken away. It is also terrible that so many people live in fear of violence involving guns.   

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