Friday, October 2, 2015

Trying to Be Happy

We are in midst of the holiday of Sukkot and we are commanded to be happy.  But once again we find ourselves dealing with the all too common events of another mass shooting.  This time I watched the President of the United States show a measure of anger that many of us feel but it was quickly beaten back by the legions of voices who think the answer to gun violence is more guns.  At least I have so far avoided the evil rhetoric of Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

What is amazing is that I had a busy day yesterday and I got home later and watched the so-called news channels to get more information.  I switched over to Fox News during a commercial to see the same old tired nonsense.  One woman was saying that gunmen choose these targets because they know no one else there has a gun.  I heard the same thing repeated on a couple of morning shows.  However in Oregon, the law allows for students with concealed carry permits to bring guns onto state campuses so it not only wasn't a gun-free zone but the gunman had no way of knowing that someone wasn't armed.  I don't think he cared if they were.  Most of these shooters are not stable enough to think through the situation and frankly are looking for glory that may well involve them ending their own life and taking others with them.  That is there desire.  They want to stop whatever pain they feel and for once in their life be someone.   They really want to feel important and leave a mark.

So the argument is that he wouldn't be able to kill as many people.  That is not proven by facts.  There was a fire fight with campus police at Columbine.  But studies show that the vast majority of civilians when confronted with an active shooter do not have the ability to react fast enough and in some cases not only make themselves a target if they pull their weapon but helps keep the shooter armed.  In some cases we hear of brave people who do fire back and subdue or kill the suspect, but in many of those cases the hero was an off duty police officer or military.  Again the vast majority of people hesitate or are in shock when faced with a loaded weapon pointed at them and the idea of a room full of confused or scared armed individuals does not comfort me.

Even more so is the idea that these so called good guys with a gun as the NRA likes to talk about are not great shots and sometimes do more harm.  Early this week an armed person tried to stop a car jacking and instead shot the victim in the head and fled the scene.  Think about it.  You are being car jacked and you give up the keys and the perp is about to leave you alone, all you lost is your car and someone thinking they are a hero shoots you.  How is that better?

Like I have written before American gun violence occurs on many fronts and has many causes and the answers to stem this violence is not easy.  Be it gang violence of the inner-city, mass shootings like this one at the college in Oregon, heat of passion violence that is so common in domestic situations we don't see it on the news if not in our neighbors or any kind of dispute that ends with shots being fired, the common denominator are the access of guns by people who may not have the capacity to handle such a lethal piece of equipment.

We must find a way to stop these kinds of attacks while preserving the rights that helped make this country what it is.  But like I have said time and again, it starts with a conversation.  The vast majority of this country agrees with me if polls are to be believed.  Let's hold our elected officials to it.  We don't need to ban all guns or violate the 2nd amendment in its current interpretation to talk and find compromise.  Hell, leave the NRA and the Brady people out of the conversation but have the damn talk.  Children are dying for no reason, we can't call ourselves a great country anymore if houses of worship, college and high school classrooms, and movie theaters require armed guards and metal detectors.  We are talking about sending people to Mars how is this harder?

Get involved, be you and anti-gun advocate or a gun owner you can help by just talking, not being a jerk and thinking for yourself.  I promise you will lose nothing just talking.  Who knows you may have the brilliant answer that is eluding all of us.

Ufros Aleinu Sukkat Shlomecha ופרש עלינו סכת שלומך — Spread over us Your shelter of peace  May this Shabbat find peace for all of us.

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