I just read Stephen King’s Guns, a Kindle single. He spoke frankly about the Connecticut shootings, and made me re-address my thoughts on gun control. In an earlier blog (January 14th) I spoke about trying to address safety individually, to teach our children to help each other understand what being safe means. I also stated that no matter how much the media (and people) scream for more laws and rules, we still haven’t fixed what’s already on the books, and millions of people already own guns or have illegal guns in their possession. The “Let someone else take care of it” doesn’t keep us any safer. One more law won’t change the fact that there are always going to be crazy people out there who want to harm us. We have to talk to our children in a logical manner about safety and how they can protect themselves without the use of guns.
Having said all this (again), I appreciate how Mr. King laid out the facts in his essays. He spoke about pulling his book Rage, not because he had to, but because the kids who came in the classroom with guns used it as an excuse. He didn’t apologize for the book, because it speaks of all that teenage angst and bullying that the shooter kids also went through. He did not think that the book caused them to act like they did, but he stated that “They were unhappy boys who were deeply and psychologically scarred.” He felt that the book could have been a possible accelerant to their already broken states of mind. He took the responsibility to take a potential weapon out of these types of children’s hands.
He goes on to speak of the media being like “drunks in a barroom” and no one making any sense. The sensationalism in news could be fixed, if we could take it back out of the rating system. What happened to the Edward R. Murrows, the Huntley-Brinkleys and the Walter Cronkites? That’s the type of rational, logical news people we need. We don’t need people who spout nonsense just to get ratings. Why can’t we do away with ratings for news? If you say it enough times, does it make it true?
He also spoke of the death toll. While it is indeed a great tragedy (26 were killed) and we continue to grieve that loss, he stated that “The homicides in Chicago last year exceeded 500….107 of them children, some just waiting to get on the school bus….”
Where I agree with Mr. King to change the laws are threefold: strict prisons sentences for those who carry illegal weapons or concealed weapons with no license; to impose a waiting period before they buy them; and require background checks.
Having said all this, I know what the realities are, having worked in law enforcement all those years. Unless the government decides to fund more positions, an agency (of any size) will not be able to get all the background checks done in time before a gun is issued. When the Brady Bill was in full force, we had lots of volunteers, grant money to pay some people, and we still couldn’t get through with all the requests. The result – people bought them anyway. And, there was still no recourse for people buying from each other, just like today. And, there are no repercussions for those who currently own illegal guns, and very few convictions. So, it’s a fantastic idea, but I have a hard time believing that the people will be more protected with a new law.
Finally, Mr. King talked about the media stating we are a Culture of Violence and he goes on to give an excellent argument (and statistics) as to why this isn’t true. Again, if you say it enough times, does it make it true? Where are their facts? We are probably less violent that in the olden days, even with the new games. The statistics just don’t add up when you look at arrests, the TV shows we watch, and the games we buy. (The top-selling game last year was Just Dance 4 for crying out loud!)
The bottom line is this – We must teach our children love and respect – love each other and their families, and have enough respect for them as well as all the other folks they interact with – and that will keep them (hopefully) from going out and shooting them. Teach them about how to live in a society, how to protect others and themselves, and how to deal with emotions that every young and old person feels.
So…..shut off your phone and all of your devices and actually have a conversation face to face – with each other. Don’t isolate yourself from your own family. We have conversation time after school, and at dinner. We learn all kinds of things that are happening in the world. Imagine that!
So, buy this little book, read his essays and think about what he said. It only costs $.99 and the money goes to a good cause – to revive and improve the Brady Bill.