Gun control was back in the news this morning. With the events in Boston, this hot topic had cooled off a bit, until the Senate failed to pass something-or-other related to gun control. The President called yesterday a "shameful day" in Washington. It caught my eye, briefly, when Good Morning America reported on it.
Those who know me well may know that I'm a Democrat, although I don't consider myself to be overly "liberal." I do have some interesting discussions with my "conservative" Republican husband, but for the most part, I remain outside of the political realm. I don't volunteer for candidates and I don't always vote party lines. I like to think of myself as a "common sense" voter. If it makes sense from a common sense perspective, I support it.
A man's right to legislate or control what I, as a woman, gets to do with my body? Doesn't make common sense. I don't support it. (Some may raise a religion-based argument against my position, but that is between me and my G-d and is nobody's business but my own.)
The government's right to tell us who can or cannot be married? Doesn't make common sense. I don't support it. We love who we love and just because it doesn't fit in someone else's definition of "love" does not mean that the government should get involved. (Some may raise a religion-based argument on this one as well, but who someone loves is between them and the person they are with and if there is any religion involved, that is between them and their G-d. Nobody else's business.)
Now.... the government's right to control gun ownership. This one, I'm not sure I can wrap my head around it. I understand the emotions behind the movement and I understand the concept, but I'm not sure that this path is the appropriate one. I will start by saying that I have not read the proposed legislation, so I cannot speak with any authority in that regard. But I do have some "life" experience to help with the common sense review of the issue. First, I do not believe that the Founding Fathers anticipated automatic weapons when they drafted the 2nd amendment. Second, I do believe that the 2nd amendment has been severely bastardized (on both sides of the aisle) to support people's views of gun ownership. Third, no matter how hard you try, you cannot legislate evil.
Someone posted something on Facebook last week which referred to prisons. Convicts do not own guns in prison and have no access to them. Yet you have to look no further than your television, to "gritty dramas" based on real life stories, to see prisoners fashioning shivs or other weapons out of tooth brushes or nail files or whatever else gets smuggled in (or brought in lawfully.) I repeat - you cannot legislate evil, and for those who are intent on causing mayhem or harming someone else, you will not be able to stop it with gun registration.
I think the NRA is a little over the top. I grew up with guns in and around the house. We lived on a farm where the nearest emergency services were at least 20 minutes away (assuming they did not hit a deer enroute.) My dad had a rifle or two which he used from time to time to chase away the latest pack of roving wild dogs, or whatever else was threatening to get too close to the house, and one uncle has told me stories about Dad standing in the back yard looking into the trees and shooting at birds (something left over from his time in Vietnam, that I will never truly understand), but largely, although we had guns around, I did not see much of them. There were handguns as well, but again, not within my reach or line of sight. I don't think that legislation such as that proposed these days, would have affected us all that much, but at the same time, I don't think that my Dad would have been overly supportive of the NRA, and I might even go so far as to say that my Dad is not someone that the NRA would be interested in having among its membership. (I could be wrong, it has happened before....maybe)
I've shot guns. I've been to several ranges and shot various hand guns and automatic rifles. Do I think that the average American citizen needs access to some of these weapons? No. Do I think that the average American citizen who does not have a criminal record, who has learned how to properly handle the weapon, has registered it, and wants it for protection should be denied access? No. Do I think that the gun control laws will prevent the "criminal element" from obtaining weapons in the event that they want to do harm to someone else? No.
The school shooting was incredibly tragic and I hope that I never have to endure anything like what those parents went through. But I believe that Washington's use of those parents to promote legislative change is wrong or at the very least, misplaced. I also believe, to some extent, that the families' trust in the system - at least in this regard- is also misplaced. The person that did the shooting got the guns from his Mother's home. She had lawfully purchased the weapons and registered them. Did she keep them appropriately locked up? No. But would the kind of proposed changes regarding background checks and registration prevented those guns from getting into that boy's hands? That is my problem with the "gun control" issue.
I think, at least on some level, we have to focus more on the individuals and less on the weapons in their hands. For example - were their parents around when they were growing up? Do they have social problems or mental health issues that need to be addressed? Have they spent most of their awake hours sitting in front of a video screen, playing games that feature bombs going off or people shooting each other? This is where our energy may be better focused.
I am not sure if there is a "common sense" response for the gun control question. I'll keep you posted on that one. But in the meantime, stay away from my body and get the heck out of our bedrooms!
"Quit your crying, before I give you something to cry about!" Some of you may giggle a bit when you read this, hearkening back to your childhood and possibly a parent or grandparent saying it to you. Unfortunately for me, I remember hearing it quite a bit. I also remember learning at a very young age, to tamp down those emotions and to hide my tears. I'm sure there were lots of times that I was scared of something or upset about things, but I remember being afraid to cry around my Dad. I also remember crying while watching movies and reading books. I don't think that I was over sensitive, but I think I used that as an outlet, because I was not allowed to cry about "real life." I remember in 1st grade, watching the Velveteen Rabbit in class. I was so upset that I cried (hiding behind a folder), sitting at my desk. The teacher was worried something was wrong. It is possible I was letting out emotions from something else, but I cried. (I still can't watch that movie - to this day it chokes me up.) As I got older, I stuck with that process, of crying at movies but not at real life. I don't remember crying when my Dad died (although I do remember my sister commenting on it, and Grandma Wolf telling her that it was o.k. that I wasn't crying, that we all grieve in different ways.) I remember standing at his grave site just trying to squeeze out even the smallest of tears.
While speaking to a therapist a few years ago, she commented on that and asked why I thought I never cried over things in "real life". I did not have an answer for her then and I don't have one now. I have made some progress in that area and do find myself getting choked up more for "real" things and less at books and movies. But I also still find myself trying to tamp it down, worried that someone will give me "something to cry about."
I mention this because it popped into my mind on Monday afternoon. Rob and I were walking into lunch when he asked me if I had seen the news about what was going on in Boston. Some of my family was there for the marathon and my Uncle and Cousin had run the race. He mentioned that he had heard on the radio that there had been bombs and when we got into the restaurant, they were watching the news. I immediately got choked up and worried.... and then immediately tamped it down. I think somewhere in the back of my mind, something said "this is not the time or place. Hold it together." So I did. As events of the day unfolded, I heard from my family and learned that they were o.k. and already out of the immediate race area. In watching video and news reports, I kept getting emotional and kept tamping things down. At some point, I might implode from all of the emotion I have suppressed over the past few days.
I think that it is o.k. to cry. I don't think that as parents, we should stop our children from crying, because sometimes, that is the only control over the situation that they have. We, as adults, may not understand why they are crying (recall that cute blog post from a dad, of why his 3 year old is crying), but that is their way of telling us that something in their world is not right. For little ones who can't talk, it may be the only form of communication they have (other than a giggle, of course.) So who are we, as parents, to stop them? My older daughter sometimes creates tears, when she is in trouble and thinks that she is supposed to be crying. I usually put a stop to that. But she is also sensitive and cries during parts of the Lion King, and parts of shows that might be emotional for her. I try not to make light of it, because she is still figuring out those emotions and how to express them. I also dread the teenage years and puberty, but that's a blog for another day.
In a way, I feel like my emotional growth was stunted because I was not able to cry at "life" as a kid. I am trying to keep that in mind as I wander this "adult" world, telling myself that it is o.k. to cry (even in front of other people) when something horrible and tragic has happened, or when I am upset or worried, just as much as it is o.k. to cry because the movie I am watching is sad. (And we all know that boys cry when their favorite teams win the World Series or the Stanley Cup or whatever other sporting event is on.)
So, go ahead and let it out. And let your kids cry. Unless, of course, they have been screaming for 2 hours - and then start hiccuping - and then make themselves sick because they won't calm down - and then you have to take your car to get cleaned, because they got sick all over it. But that's another story for another day too.