Yet another one, this last at Michigan State University. As of this writing, it appears that the shooter was not linked to the school. And we still don’t have effective gun control laws. What will it take? ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed,’ says the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. But I say to you that there’s no ‘well regulated Militia’ in this country. That the estimated 350 million plus guns in private hands are not necessary for the security of America and instead act against it. And that the right to bear Arms creates far more problems than it solves. Therefore, the Second Amendment is toxic to the country as it permits the killings of thousands of innocent people every year. On January 6th 2021, an assault on Capitol Hill in Washington DC took place. Our sitting president at the time was an influential factor in such assault. Where the hell was the ‘well regulated Militia’? The intent of the calculated aggression was to overturn a legitimate election. Where was the ‘well regulated Militia?’ Nowhere, because it doesn’t exist. It is not real and will not come to the assistance of any movement that threatens our political system because owning a gun is not enough. In the face of a threat to our political system what is needed are educated minds, people with a commitment to the laws of this nation who have invested in cultivating their sense of civic duty to assist their brothers and sisters. In the face of a threat to our nation, what will be needed is people to speak up whenever there is corruption in government, what is needed is the courage to protest and stand side by side against would be oppressors, so the pillars of our nation are not undermined and destroyed. Gun owners and all those gun bearers throughout this land did nothing to stop the injustice of the Capitol assault as it unfolded, except perhaps scratch their heads in puzzlement. But those same gun owners will fight to the end any attempted restriction on their right to buy guns. Regardless of whether the buyer has the integrity to handle a gun or the emotional makeup to show restraint. The gun lobby is a drag on the development, political and economic maturation of this country. It is not an asset but a detriment. It keeps us from connecting with each other. What it does do is help us hide from the call to civic duty to our fellow human beings. The freedom to buy guns must be restricted because the deaths of innocent people at the hands of the misguided or confused, envious or angry, is a deep wound being inflicted to the essence of who we are. Very often, at the heart of the motivation of the shooters, is a profound sense of envy at having fallen behind and not being part of our national project. That task of building ties to our fellow citizens is essential. It cannot be left to government. Defenders of gun laws need to ask themselves, which is more important, my duty to my brothers and sisters, or the right to own a gun that breeds isolation. The price of liberty is measured in the courage to stand against injustice, whenever and wherever it happens. The price of liberty is also measured in our ability to hold our pain, and not give it to others.
Oscar Valdes is the author of Letters to a Shooter (available on Amazon) and other self published books.
The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms as being necessary to the security of a free state, but today, such security is well provided by our armed forces. Therefore, today’s insistence on the right to bear arms appears to be an effort to address people’s personal insecurities. In everyday life, we’re always assessing threats to our wellbeing. In the process we may properly estimate our value and that of others or just be wrong about it and end up instead overvaluing or undervaluing all concerned. Personal insecurities come with being human. Events in our lives may exacerbate them and thus must be properly addressed. The current insistence on the right to carry weapons stems from unaddressed personal insecurities and carries far more risks than benefits. Furthermore, it delays the process of self scrutiny to remedy what flaws feed our personal insecurities. It is not an easy task to address such flaws. It takes diligence, attention to detail and a measure of emotional strength to start. The rewards, however, are enormous. One such reward may be identifying what activity bring us the most emotional satisfaction. Do what we love most and we will be better able to value ourselves and others. We will be better anchored and less envious. Envy is a hard nut to crack but it can be managed effectively if we feel grounded as a person. All of us are flawed. Those who manage to pull ahead have identified their strengths and are able to manage more effectively what flaws they have. Therefore, they will be less likely to need a gun at their side. Grandiosity is a personality trait that will distort how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. The quicker we’re able to identify it, the quicker we can check it. Grandiosity is more apt to show up if we fail to properly assess what strengths we have. It acts as an ego protective mechanism, aiming to compensate for perceptions of low self worth but is not helpful in the end. We have several examples of grandiosity in full display in today’s current affairs. It has impaired Putin’s and Xi Jinping’s judgments with horrific consequences. But neither man is a properly developed individual. Just like Trump in America. The person so insistent on carrying a weapon perceives the weapon as an equalizer. They believe they need the protection when interacting with others. ‘Look, I’m carrying, so watch out.’ Some take it a step further. Years ago, while working in a prison, I met an inmate serving a sentence for shooting another man. He wounded him. He’d had an interaction with the victim and felt demeaned as a result. But seeing that the victim was a stronger man, he chose to shoot him instead of fighting him or resolving the matter by other means. The hard tasks that lie ahead for the nation call for all of us to do more introspection. To learn about our emotions and to express them properly. The right to bear arms contributes nothing to that task. It delays our individual development. Want to hunt? Get your gun. Want to evolve as a human being? Put it down.
The other day, in the wake of the Tulsa killings, I stop to chat to an acquaintance sitting on a low brick wall in front of our building. I bring up the recent shootings and then ask, ‘What do you think of gun control?’ The person replies, ‘I believe in the second amendment… I listen to such and such podcast and I believe in that. We have to deal with the mentally ill.’ To which I reply, ‘The mentally ill are responsible for some of it but far from all of it.’ The person returns, ‘We have to go to church…’ And I say, ‘I’m not a church going person.’ Seemingly annoyed, he stood up as he readied to leave and added, ‘Go to church.’ End of conversation. I wish the gunman in Buffalo, NY, the one in Uvalde, Texas, and the one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to name only the more recent ones, had found solace and peace of mind in church. But they didn’t. And if the almighty was looking over them as we’re taught he/she does, then, somehow they got away. So much for being all mighty and all seeing and what not, because we’re bleeding down here. It is up to us to come up with solutions because the church isn’t doing it. The men in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa – it’s men, overwhelmingly, not women who like to shoot innocent people – obviously needed to talk to someone. They did not. Never mind the second amendment for that won’t be repealed. But we need to find some ways to let people channel their grief and resentment. Government can help. Maybe churches can, too. Here’s an idea for government to consider. Create a public website or phone line that does not identify the user, so it won’t be seen as a trap. Encourage those in pain to reach out. If tied to a team of helpers that can quickly go to the assistance of the person, should they so desire, it may add to it. One possible name for the service is ‘Talk. Save your Life.’ Or ‘Crime on My Mind’. Other names may be more effective. Start a pilot program somewhere. I wrote a booklet some years ago titled ‘Letters to a Shooter’ where I try to talk a person out of such ghastly action. I will gladly donate the book to the effort. You don’t have to keep my name on it, either. Take it off and modify the contents as you wish, so long as it facilitates assisting the person in pain. But we have to do something because we are bleeding. The defenders of the second amendment won’t budge, bills proposing background checks before purchasing guns will keep being defeated in congress, and we’ll continue to shake our heads as we reflect on the latest shooting, muttering under our breaths, ‘Oh God.’ To the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, will you please step up and remind us of how much are the mentally ill responsible for the madness that afflicts the nation? Thank you And let’s get ready for the next one. It could be in my neighborhood or yours.
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts