This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Growing Up In A Gun Society

In July of 1984, I was 15 years old, getting ready to start my freshman year at the ginormous high school at Homestead Senior High in Florida City, Florida (it appears to have a Homestead city address but if you look on the map, it's really Florida City...but whatever).

I remember clearly this, WARNING - EXTREMELY DISTURBING, photograph on the front page of the newspaper from the San Ysidro McDonald's Massacre. The young boy, lying dead next to his bicycle, the image haunted me for a long time. Even at 15, I was struck with the rumination disorder, along with my empathy and walking in someone's footsteps. How did that boy feel when that was happening? How did those police officers feel when they came to the scene? What was Huberty thinking when he saw that boy and did what he did? Why did he do what he did? How can anyone feel such anger to people he doesn't even know?

It would be one of many mass shootings that unfortunately, I would grow up with. This is an era of mass murder. I'm not sure if I really focused on the fact that Huberty had a 9 mm uzi semi-automatic as one of his weapons during his rampage of killing 21 people, which was the worst massacre in US history until 1991, when George Hennard drove his truck through the front window of Luby's and murdered 23 people.

But Friday's beyond-horrific event reminded me of these other "there-really-is-no-hell-because-we're-living-it" and all these other travesties that I grew up with, and unfortunately, still 'grow' up my children now are.

When I was a teen, I was so gung-ho anti-gun. I didn't grow up in house full of guns, nor did my dad talk about being pro-gun. It wasn't a conversation we had in the house. Ironic because my dad made bombs for a living and I was surrounded by EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) folks, who my dad worked with. My dad would show me various ways I could make explosives, which I ignored because, well, he's my dad and as his daughter, that kind of stuff was boring to me. NOW, I wish I had listened, not because I want to make bombs but because the knowledge is fascinating and interesting to me.

I was also very anti-hunting. Save the animals! Then I moved to Guam in 1985 and, while the island is small, they do hunt on the island and some of my friends did. I didn't agree and I was still somewhat anti-hunting but I didn't think they were bad people for doing it. They seemed to really _like_ their food...I sure the hell wasn't going to eat it but I was slacking on my judgement for people who hunt.

In time, I would meet more family that were hunters, and more friends and I pretty much gave up on the anti-hunting slant. Just don't make me eat it. It's hard enough to accept the fact that I eat Wilbur, Bessie, and Chicken Little but I refuse to eat anything outside of those food groups (in the meat category). I don't give a rat's ass if it tastes like heaven, I do not want to eat it on principle. It's fine for those of you that like lamb, gator, venison, bull nuts, crocodile tears, whatever. I don't judge you for it. Don't judge me because I don't want to taste it. Don't sneak it on my plate and tell me it's something else just so you can get a laugh because I say it's great and go HAHA! It's really squirrel tail!!! I KNEW you'd like it! Because that's not the point. I know I may like some of it. I. Don't. Want. To. Eat. It. Think of me as something like a Muslim that can't eat pork based on religion. I don't want to eat anything like that based on my own fucked up ethical principal. If you sneak it on me. I will not think it's funny. I will be offended.

Okay. Back to this...

So, I was extremely anti-gun. Never heard my dad speak about being pro-gun or anti-gun. But I guess he couldn't be anti-gun because he was a military guy and he fought in the war. But because I'm pretty literal and don't think really about the next pool shot, I never put two-and-two together and just thought about my own little world.

Then I met Tim. When I met Tim (also a military man), he was a security policeman (SP) in the Air Force. While we were dating, guns never came up. And since we dated for two months THEN got married (no, I wasn't pregnant), we really didn't have a lot of time to talk about our philosophies, hopes, ethics, morals, etc.  I don't know when guns came into the conversation but imagine my surprise when he said he WASN'T for gun control. WHAT????

I made my argument. Blue in the face. And back then, Tim was very patient with me. I remember how very calm he was about the whole thing. But essentially, it was "Sweetie. I'm a cop. I use a gun. I have to have a gun. We will have guns in the house." And I then realized, I was defeated.

But defeated is not the right word. Living with Tim changed my stance. Not because he brainwashed me but because he helped me evolve. And this is where my stance is now. And I'm here to tell you, surprisingly, we still disagree. He'll have to tell you himself what his stance is but he's certainly not pro-NRA. It's much more sophisticated than that. But I can tell you my little naive way of where I think gun control should go. And let me tell you first, and foremost: I know NOTHING about guns...but a little more than those who have no exposure to guns and I think you need to study up on your guns before you speak about 'em.

It's pretty simple: No one should have assault weapons except the military or police force (or anyone that needs these type of weapons...this is just my CYA on). Assault weapons are meant to kill people. Period. Military (and whoever are meant to kill people) are trained to use these weapons for the sole reason of killing people. These weapons should be reserved only for those trained to use them. I don't think an uzi is necessary to kill deer.

For other types of guns, I don't know much about them. I don't know about semi-automatic pistols like the Glock used by the dude at Luby's. I mean that literally. And as I've said before. I use the word literally in it's literal use.

But what I think gun control cannot do is what very few have spoken to but two very brilliant and brave people have posted. One a very smart dude that barely posts anything on FB and another, one of MiMi's preschool teachers...and that's mental healthcare.

I don't sympathize with Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold, or Eric Harris. But I empathize. Could any of this ever be prevented? We will never ever ever know. But I strongly believe our mental healthcare in the U.S. is in strong need of help, especially in our young.

Tim and I met a guy that works as a psychiatrist at the Federal Correctional Facility in Butner, NC. Man, this dude was amazing. I could have talked to him forever. But what he said to us about the people he meets was eye-opening. He meets kids. The people incarcerated there that he sees are mainly late teens and early 20s who are suffering from mental disorders. He went into technical psychology details but essentially, these types of disorders do not get treated and many times, don't really showcase themselves until right at these ages. He was sad for them that they end up in prison.

I know some of you out there that I went to high school know that we knew people like Dylan and Eric. But for whatever reason, these guys stayed on the right side. And I don't mean that they turned out OK but they didn't kill 13 classmates. Did they get help? I don't know because I didn't see that kind of help available when I was a teen. But something 'right' kept them from going ballistic.

So gun control will help. But we need mental help. We need the right tools to help people, not just children, but all people. Huberty called a mental health facility the day before the massacre. But he didn't get help...

I don't have answers. Just observations, as many people do. But I'm not yelling at the killers, the parents, the NRA. Wait, no, I am yelling at the NRA because they won't budge. I can't stand 'folks' that don't budge. They're not taking any stance except 'we won't move'. That's just ignorant.

But there's more than just one thing wrong in this system and it's not just gun control.

And if I hear one more pro-gun person tell me that a psycho can bring another a knife...I'm going to...point them to this story. Any other weapon a psycho can bring to a massacre will be more apt to NOT do as much harm as a gun.

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