Tragedies and Verbal Attacks

First of all, yes, I’m still here (if just barely, it feels like!) Things have gotten a bit crazy work-wise, and it doesn’t look like they’ll settle down much until after I move (same city, different house) in July. I also hd a minor motorcycle accident a month ago, and my hands have been in enough pain to make blogging a challenge.

I had a post ready to go on another subject, but then this horrific tragedy happened in Santa Barbara (just about a 90 minute drive away), and…well, it’s been ugly. So the post I had written is being shelved for another day so I can express some of what I’m feeling.

First of all, my heart goes out to the families of both the victims and the killer. They, and the whole community along with them, are grieving the senseless tragedy and needless loss of life. I once worked with the parent of one of the victims, so all of that hit a little too close to home.

But there’s the problem. Just like every other spree killing on recent memory, there are folks who want to blame all of this on guns, despite the fact that firearms were not the only weapons used and despite the fact that California already has all of those “common-sense, reasonable” gun control laws (and then some). And because of that focus, I’ve felt personally under attack from my friends and neighbors and community cut off from my abillity to grieve along with them by feeling the need to try to engage in dialogue with people wrapped up in too much pain and grief and fear to distinguish between what makes us feel safe and what makes us actually BE safe.

I’ve heard people ask me why the NRA can’t just “be reasonable” and admit that guns are the problem. (Because the problem is mentally ill, evil people, not the tools they choose.) I’ve had people ask why gun owners can’t just “give ONE inch” on this issue. (We’ve been doing that for years, and it’s never enough – the next tragedy just brings calls to give one MORE inch, and meanwhile we’re not doing one thing to actually address the problem.) I’ve been called a “whacko”, a “gun-crazy wingnut”, an “NRA shill”. I’ve been told I’m paranoid, even evil, because I choose to recognize that a gun is the most effective tool, in that awfulest of circumstances, to safeguard myself and my loved ones. Now, a week later, I’m exhausted from the constant barrage of attacks.

I’ve tried to be reasonable, to respond to every ad hominem with tender, open-hearted empathy and verifiable data. But it’s hard, so hard, to engage in productive conversation with people who don’t want to consider that their viewpoint might be wrong.

And that’s the real rub, isn’t it? If they admit that they might be wrong about the abillity of gun control being effective, they have to admit that bad things MAY indeed happen to them, and that they’ve chosen to be unprepared. And that’s just too hard to face. At the end of the day, they’re deeply terrified by the thought that they could be good, decent people and bad stuff could still happen to them. Far better to pretend they could be safe with just one more law, and then at least they can sleep at night – until the next tragedy.

This is what I want to say to my community, to my friends and neighbors. It’s what I would say, if they had the space and capacity to hear it. I would say: Like you, I am horrified by what happened. My heart aches along with you, like any compassionate human being’s heart would. Like you, I want to stay safe. I want my family and friends and loved ones to be safe, too. That’s why I choose to own a gun, so that I can defend myself and my loved ones in those awful moments when no other course of action is available.

I am not a whacko, I am not a wingnut, I am not a shill. I am not evil, or a monster, or a crazy person. I’m someone just like you – a daughter, a mother, a sister, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor – who in her own life has had to face the fact that evil DOES exist in the world and who’s learned from bitter experience that relying on the police and the law to keep you safe doesn’t always work.

Like 100 million or more of my fellow Americans, I am a gun owner, and I am a good person. So please stop demonizing us. Please stop thinking you have a monopoly on grief. Please stop assuming that somehow one more law that takes away liberty will somehow, magically, stop the problem. Let’s come together as a community, to grieve, to heal, and to talk about what solutions (if any) might be possible to actually solve the problem. And please understand why, after 30 years of failed attempts, I don’t agree with you that yet one more gun law is the answer.

Comments

  1. J, Simmons says:

    Very well spoken. I wish we gun owners had more people with your eloquence speaking publicly, to fight the commonly pushed notion that we are all either ” ill informed and dangerous” and ” bitter gun clinging rednecks.”.

  2. Well Said!

  3. So glad to see you back, Tammy, and sorry you’ve had such a rough time of it lately. I was starting to worry a bit!!

    As for the latest tragedy… To blame this violence on the “mentally ill” with a blanket indictment (as the prohibitionists want to do), is just as bad as blaming all gun owners. I’m the first to say that anyone who willingly, deliberately harms another person without just cause is already insane, by definition. But that absolutely does not translate to the idea that ALL those with mental or emotional problems are automatically prone to harm others. It just isn’t so.

    As a health care professional, with many years experience dealing with all sorts of people, including the emotionally/mentally ill, I can tell you that it is impossible to predict future behavior in most of them, and especially future potential for violent behavior. The sheer numbers tell us, however, that very few of these folks ever resort to voilence at all… even those who decide to kill themselves – a whole different thing.

    Finding ways to help people cope, and providing good care for those who simply can’t do so on their own is wonderful, but the only route to safety in this regard is to be found in self responsibility and self defense, as always. The psychiatrists are not responsible for our safety, any more than are the police… and never have been.

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