Today, I woke up, read, drank some coffee, slipped on the ice outside our house, then drove to work. As usual.
When I got to my classroom I prepped for the day, made copies of some PDP notes for the novels my students are reading, then checked my emails. As usual.
When students began to walk the halls and fill their seats, I found it difficult to carry on the day, as usual.
So before each class, we talked about the shootings, the problems and solutions, and why it seems to happen so damn often (Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week - via).
We had more questions than we did solutions.
During lunch, I came across this video:
There are more gun shops in the US than Starbucks, McDonalds, and supermarkets put together.
That statistic was startling to me, terrifying actually, because if you want to know what a person, community, or country loves, look at where they spend their money and you will find the gods they serve.
The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?
I'm not convinced that guns are the problem and that if we are to only get rid of them, all problems will be erased. However, I am convinced that if in fact getting rid of guns would prevent 100% of the shootings in schools, America at large would still cling to their rights, their freedoms, and their guns. And that shootings would continue.
But not so, in Japan.
The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it’s not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel’s landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)
To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.
Seems like a small price to pay to save our children, our classmates, our teachers, neighbors, friends, parents, and . . . fellow man.
I hear the argument, that we shouldn't blame those who aren't the problem - the responsible gun owners, and that creating more laws is only hurting the law abider, not the law breaker. I get it. But I also don't.
More than a few of my friends are recovering alcoholics. I, however, am not. But, no matter how much I enjoy a cold drink on a summer evening with the taste and smell of the grill wafting through the air, when they are present, I don't drink. Even though I don't have the struggle, even though I can drink responsibly, I forgo my right to have and drink in my house because I want what's best for the other person. Not just myself.
This, more than the actual guns, seems to be the bigger more predominant issue - individual rights over the community wellbeing. Japan and other Eastern countries not only have stricter rules and regulations, they also don't have a problem with them being implemented, because they are more of a group society, whereas Western countries care more about the individual.
Dan Hodges said it this way, "In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over."
That sounds harsh, and I can think of more than a few gun loving friends and family that this doesn't quite relate to, but that doesn't steal much away from the stark truth of the sentiment that the discussion has come to a close. And if we're unwilling to even discuss the possibility of change, nothing ever will.
In the meantime, expect more shootings.
(for more excerpts on the United States of Guns, visit Kottke.org).
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