A rambling gun rant

I have so many disjointed thoughts about guns in America right now. I am sad, sick, and angry about what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week.

I hate that I have to talk to my high schooler about what to do if someone starts shooting in her school. I hate that when the hubs and I dropped her off at the movies last week, I was feeling uneasy as we told her to be aware of her surroundings and pay attention to where the exits are. I hate that my daughter has many unanswerable questions about how what happened actually happened. I hate that my 11-year-old nephew in TX is afraid to go to school because he is afraid of a shooting. I hate that nearly every day since that awful shooting, I have had to read about threats at various schools, instilling more fear in children.

Over 5 years ago after the shooting in Newtown, I said that I still consider schools one of the safest places. Despite the fact that we seem to read about more and more school shootings, I still feel that way. But maybe just a little less so.

As US citizens, we have a right to bear arms. But how many arms does one need to bear?! And how sophisticated and deadly must these weapons be? And why is it so easy for some people to obtain a gun?

The time has come for strict gun control. Sorry, not sorry, but human lives, particularly children, should be more important than someone's desire to easily obtain a bunch of deadly weapons. Japan has pretty strict gun control. I think the United States would be wise to head into that direction.
If Japanese people want to own a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test. Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation, which takes place at a hospital, and pass a background check, in which the government digs into their criminal record and interviews friends and family. They can only buy shotguns and air rifles — no handguns — and every three years they must retake the class and initial exam.
I am not saying the United States adopt all of those rules, but how about a few? No one should be able to buy a gun without taking a class and passing a test. That is just common sense. If you disagree, then you probably should not own a gun; perhaps you fear you could not pass said test.

A background check and mental health evaluation should also be must-haves, regardless of where you buy your gun. I don't necessarily support interviewing friends and family or taking this evaluation in a hospital, but I can't say I hate the idea either. I realize some of this seems big brotherish, and it is possible you might deem someone as having a mental issue when he does not, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Related, kids are going to need to understand that any joke or off-handed comment about shooting a school or students will be taken seriously. Unfortunately, we can no longer take a chance.

I don't have a problem with handguns, but I think anything much beyond that is worrisome. But I also know the gun enthusiasts would likely fight for the right to keep their beloved semi-automatics.

And having to retake the class and test every three years seem reasonable. I would also tie in some kind of background check. You can buy and own some guns, but if within a few years you commit a felony, you need to have your gun taken away. A background check would help ensure that would happen (maybe it works that way now, that if you commit a felony, you are forced to turn in your guns, assuming you are honest about owning a gun).

I know there are a number of reasons why some of these controls may not work. But clearly how things are now is not working.

I look at it this way: The local litter group I run had five official pickups last year, and members pick up trash around their neighborhoods throughout the year. A number of people have said, "Why do you bother picking up the litter, when someone is just going to toss their garbage tomorrow?" And I say, "Cleaning up that one road leaves that area clean for a few hours or a few days. And the less litter there is, the less likely people are to litter in that area. Besides, you don't dust your house one day and never do it again just because it is going to get dirty again."

Similarly, I would not say, "Hey, let's not change the gun laws. People are just going to continue to die at the hands of guns and criminals are going to obtain guns illegally anyway." No, I would say, "Let's try to enact some change. Even if we prevent only a few shootings and save a few lives every year, isn't that worth it?"

I sure think it is. You have to start somewhere. [And I also think it is worth it to consider some type of gun by-back. It will take decades, and it will be expensive. But maybe by the time my teen is old, we will have much less of a gun problem.]

And to those who say, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people. I would say, sure. But we don't want the guns to undergo mental health evaluations, a background check, and take classes. We want the people to do that.

So c'mon, people. The time for change is now. Not after the next mass shooting. Not after we go through this heartache again (because we will, before long). But right now. Our future depends on it.

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