Yesterday, Friday, there were two more shootings on college campuses here in the United States. Added to all of that, President Obama made a visit to the Oregon Community College where a similar sequence of events took place. Predictably, the talk of gun control versus Second Amendment rights quickly followed in the wake of these incidents and the President’s visit. As a collective society, we lash out for answers when tragedy strikes. We see the symptoms, we lash on to fixing these issues. We create more problems by doing so.
We only need to look back at the knee-jerk reaction the United States Congress had in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11/01. The Congress sought stricter controls on travel, limitations of privacy – all in the name of trying to stop terrorism. The after-thought of just what the strangely named “Patriot Act” is well documented. Here, we have a handful of tragedies that have happened again. We look to Congress to “fix” the issue. But are we sure we are fixing the right issues through more controls over gun ownership?
Before I continue too far, let me add some qualifiers about where I am in all of this “debate”. I am not a gun owner. Unless forced to do so, I doubt I will ever become a gun owner. I know how to shoot several types of projectile weaponry. The United States military saw to that during my eight years with them. Those eight years are long in the rear-view mirror of my life, and yet will always be an integral part of who I am. I have two staves and a sword in my home – and am quite proficient in their usage. So, before you start calling me a gun-rights advocate or a gun-control crazy – remember where my past, present, and future lay in this arena.
So, is it necessary to limit our collective societal right to gun ownership to try and solve a series of college campus shootings? Are we going to place the blame on the ability to obtain the gun, or on the individual that utilized the gun? Are we, as a collective society, going to avoid the larger issues of responsible gun ownership, affordable and available mental health for all in our country – for the sake of the limitation of rights? Looking back to the aftermath of 9/11/01 and the easy installment of the Patriot Act and other related pieces of legislation – my assumption can only be “yes”. Essentially, we – as a people – have chosen to let our government decide such issues – with little or no input from the citizenry.
Considering that our governmental body that is charged with creating legislation and laws to deal with such wide-arching societal issues such as gun control, retains more attention to how an issue should be voted on by the amount that some Special Interest Group can drop into the collection cup at the door…I am not confident that our individual rights as citizens are all that important. Furthermore, our governmental system has, in the past, stated that corporations have the same rights as people – providing even greater power to the lobbyist agendas that flow through the halls of Congress like sewage headed out to sea.
There is an answer to the ease in which we obtain guns through licensed dealers. Some of it is already in place. Background checks, waiting periods, etc. All provide a manner to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who should not have access to them. Some gun dealers provide classes on how to handle, maintain, and store a gun. In some states, this is a mandatory requirement to obtain prior to purchasing a gun. But not every state has that requirement.
And on and on and on….
All of that addresses the ownership and maintenance of having a gun. But it still lacks addressing another fundamental issue within our individual States, here in the United States – Nine Hells, even throughout the world: individual compassion for our fellow humans (among others). And this is something that cannot be mandated or legislated. This requires changing our collective mindset. We are a “me” “me” society. Worried about what we get, how our smaller groups of “us” are doing — shunning others because they are not “us”. Its far easier to pull the trigger when the person on the other side of the barrel is considered to be “less” than we are. Been there. Its a very easy training tool for military campaigns. Unfortunately, in our collective world society — we have a mentality of “us v. them”. And when we view “them” as being less than we are – we find it far easier to pull the trigger of a gun, and send a small lead projectile towards them to accomplish untold damage.
In my Druidry studies, I was taught the Druid’s Prayer….
Grant, O God, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of God.
God and all goodness.
Protection. Strength. Understanding. Knowledge. Synthesized together, compassion. Compassion for one another. Compassion to resolve differences without the use of violence as a first solution. That we should care enough about our fellow human beings, our fellow plants, animals, and fellow travelers on this planet — to try and understand how our actions have repercussions for others.
Ok….some of you that are reading this are figuring me to be a “love and light” type of Pagan. Some peace-loving hippy freak. Go ahead. Believe whatever you want. Add whatever label you want to me – that does not matter one bit. Regardless of what someone else may say, I am a Pagan. I am on a Path of Druidry. I seek connection and experience from the environment around me. In the end, when wrapped all together – it makes me, Tommy. I honestly don’t have the solution to the entire gun issue, but I am aware of the problem to realize that it is complex, involves more than just a gun control versus gun rights issue, and that current discussed measures are only going to treat the symptom of the issue – not the issue itself. Where things go from here, I have no idea. I can only hold out hope that we, as a collective society, try to find a way to discuss the underlying issues rather than just treating the symptoms and consider things to be “better.”