No, I am not a middle child; I’m the oldest of three boys.
However, in the current political world, those who stand in the middle of the aisle can be likened to that forgotten middle child.
The ‘Middle’ refers to that place on the political spectrum that your Facebook & Twitter feeds – and the mainstream media for that matter – might consider completely alien.
It’s a place that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention lately, but the concepts here, I believe, are desperately needed in these turbulent times.
I tend to be quite central, politically, and while I don’t like to politicize anything, I’m going to for this post because people get it, and, I think this needs to be said.
I’ve remained pretty silent in the discussion about the tragic, unspeakable event in Parkland, FL thirteen days ago and the subsequent discussion about guns in America. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to say.
What does one say?
Sadness, anger, and helplessness are just a few of the many emotions that have been running through my soul, and while I wish I could have complete empathy for the people who’ve lost so much, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain.
So even though it’s become a highly criticized response (for good reason), I do offer up my thoughts and prayers.
But…I also want to do something.
Now, in the gun rights vs. gun control debate, we typically are met with two extremes. Both are extremes I ardently disagree with, and, I believe that the majority of Americans disagree with them as well.
The Far Right fears that any gun control initiatives infringe upon gun ownership rights, and tends to think that the answer to gun violence is more guns; arming teachers at school, for example. The Far Left seems to believe that guns have no place in our personal lives and that taking guns away from people will immediately result in less gun violence.
In my humble opinion, both of these options are unreasonable and impractical.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITY
These two voices – the Far Right and the Far Left – are both pretty loud and are highly likely to attract a lot of attention on our Facebook feeds. Just check out the comments, memes, accusations, name-calling, and all other sorts of peace-busting ridiculousness.
However, just because these two voices are the loudest doesn’t mean there isn’t a third one. Or even several others.
What if the answer to the tragic, complicated problem of gun violence is found not in these ‘coming-in-hot’ conversations, but rather, somewhere in the middle?
What if we proposed a solution that took away no one’s guns, while at the same time began to take gun ownership in this country very seriously?
What if we preserved the rights of responsible individuals to own firearms, yet actually did something to keep guns out of the hands of would-be mass shooters?
I want to state, assertively here, that I fully respect our Second Amendment rights and that I believe gun ownership to be a noble and good thing. I’m currently not a gun owner, but we grew up with guns on the farm, and I’d love to own a gun, or even several, someday. The opportunity to own a firearm for hunting, sport, or protection in potential dangerous situations is one that, in my humble opinion, needs to be upheld.
GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE. PEOPLE – WITH GUNS – DO.
I agree with conservatives that guns in and of themselves are not the problem. The old adage, ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ is true…to a certain extent. People have owned guns in this country for a long time, and mass shootings are a relatively recent headline.
Many factors come into play here.
- Conservatives assert that the problem is the culture. And I agree, to a certain extent. We do live in a culture that glorifies gun violence. Music, movies, and video games have become increasingly violent, and while freedom of speech needs to be respected, I believe it’s important to hold our entertainers to a certain level of social responsibility.
- Many in our youngest generation are not learning the basic human virtues that inspire communities to work toward the common good. Such virtues are being supplanted by moral relativism, a rugged individualism, and an exaggerated consumerism, among others.
- Mental illness is, like other diseases, both biological and environmental. An increasing number of people suffer from various forms of mental illness and, the causes are believed to be both interior and exterior. It’s a case of nature and nurture, which is partly why it’s so difficult to understand and treat.
- Empathy for our fellow human beings appears to be on a steep decline due to a lack of authentic relationships and in-person communication. Work ethic, and gratefulness for what one has, are becoming lost arts in a paradoxical world of immediate and impossible satisfaction.
- And, let’s not forget that there is such a thing as evil. We saw pure evil raise its ugly head in Florida last week.
- Then, there are guns. Not guns in of themselves, but rather, the ease with which people can access them.
Yes, there are many factors.
And while the mere existence of guns is not an issue, the accessibility of guns is.
Here’s where I depart from the Right.
While it’s true that guns don’t kill people, it’s also true that people – with guns – do kill people.
People – who are out of touch with reality, angered beyond angry, or simply under the influence of great evil – do use guns to kill people. It happens. Way too often.
Gun rights activists continually say things like “Well, if someone wants to hurt another, he/she will find a way to do it. It’s not the gun.”
The problem with that answer is that it is purely hypothetical. We need to look at reality, at what is actually happening. People are using guns to kill large amounts of their fellow human beings, and the ease with which they can obtain guns is certainly a factor.
UNACCPTABLE – AND UNAMERICAN
My sharpest critique of the Far Right on this issue is that of legislative inaction. This common notion that, ‘it would’ve happened anyway,’ or ‘there’s nothing we can do,’ is unacceptable, and frankly, un-American.
We have a serious problem with gun violence in this country and to suggest that a problem has no solution, or that we’re not even going to study the problem and attempt to solve it, is, yes, un-American. We are called to be people of integrity, people of a ‘never-give-up’ mentality, people of blood, sweat, and tears who fight for human rights and the common good. Why would we settle for ‘it would’ve happened anyway’ or ‘there’s nothing we can do’?
I agree with the Left – and with many Americans at various places on the political spectrum – that we need, and can actually achieve, common sense gun control. We can do something; we can do something about this serious problem without infringing on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Gun rights and gun control can both exist at the same time; they are not mutually exclusive.
It’s encouraging to see the high school students taking a stand, raising their voices, and imploring their lawmakers to do something. Whether you agree with their practical suggestions or not, we need to listen to them. It’s easy to point fingers when one is on the outside looking in, but paying attention to the ones who’ve ‘been there’ is the beginning of empathy.
These students are tired of watching their peers lose their lives, and they’re tired of the inaction by lawmakers who are not being held accountable for their inaction.
No more ‘it would’ve happened anyway.’ No more ‘there’s nothing we can do.’
We can do something.
Decades ago, people started losing their lives in car accidents. In response, we didn’t take away peoples’ cars.
We did something about it.
We invented the seat belt and the air bag. We cracked down on drunk driving.
We implemented steps for people to become educated, responsible motor vehicle operators who are held to a certain level of responsibility.
I wonder if gun control could be similar.
Gun control doesn’t mean taking guns away. It simply means taking gun ownership in this country very seriously. It means holding would-be gun owners to the highest possible standard of responsibility and accountability. It means doing our best to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of people who would cause harm on a mass level.
Perhaps we could issue licenses for people who seek to purchase a firearm. Licensing might include training, a mental health analysis, and a comprehensive background check that would include personal, academic, and professional references.
When we hire people, it’s very common to check with personal, academic, and professional references. We are quite particular, and actively concerned about, the people we bring aboard our companies, schools, nonprofits, churches, teams, and other organizations.
I wonder if gun control could be similar.
Other countries have implemented similar initiatives and these initiatives have shown promise.
Some people might characterize such gun control ideas as ‘inconvenient’ or ‘too much of a sacrifice.’
To that I would say: A lot of things in life are inconvenient.
Sacrifice is part of our daily lives and every one of us makes sacrifices for the good of our families, our careers, and our communities.
If even one school shooting were thwarted, if even one mother didn’t have to receive that agonizing phone call, if even one life were spared, any of these inconveniences or sacrifices would be worth it a hundredfold.
We sacrifice much in our daily lives for the greater good.
There’s a much greater good at stake here.
GUN RIGHTS AND GUN CONTROL
Sadly, nothing we do will end this problem overnight. There are many factors at play here.
But I do believe, and many Americans do too, that we can do something.
We can have gun rights and gun control at the same time. We can hunt, we can shoot targets, we can protect our families and ourselves by owning firearms. We don’t need to take that away from anyone.
But we can, and must, take gun ownership very seriously.
We can, and must, urge our legislators to do something about this mega problem of gun violence.
We can, and must, make great efforts to end the madness of mass shooting.
And the answer, like with many issues people shout about, just might be in the middle.
CALL TO ACTION
I don’t know. Does anyone else think this way? If so, please like, share, or comment.
And contact your elected officials. If you don’t know who they are, go to usa.gov/elected-officials; you just type in your address and you’re good to go.
They might not listen, but just don’t give up. Let’s not lose hope.
Thanks for listening.
Peace & All Good,