Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking for Answers (and ranting about it)

I wish that I could tell you that this is going to be a well thought out, well researched post; but it's not. It's just the ramblings (or rantings) of a confused, but concerned citizen in the US in the shadow of another tragic shooting event in our country.

I know that there are those that would argue that any regulation on gun ownership is a violation of our Second Amendment rights. I am definitely not in favor of a ban on gun ownership, but recognize that we live in a far different world than the framers of our Constitution.

I believe that we can reach a solution. If extremists on the side of a total gun ban and extremists on the side of no regulations at all are unwilling to move from their positions, then we in the middle must come up with an enforceable solution. Part of that solution has to be recognition that we (as a society) can only do so much and that guns are only a part of a larger problem.

It would surprise many of you to know that I would be in favor of allowing properly trained teachers and school staff to be allowed to have firearms in schools (and pilots on airplanes, too).  I am not a hunter or outdoorsman but have purchased firearms for sport and protection. I think that I have (and should have) the right to do so. I believe that unless there are limited access points that are manned by armed guards and equipped with metal detectors, gun free zones can quickly become dangerous places. "Gun free" does not have to include the trained staff of such places.

In today's post 9-11 world, we have grown to accept the inconveniences that we experience at airports. The long lines at security, unlocked luggage, shoe removal, full body scans--all of these were met with resistance and yet put in place without political action or citizen input, and they have become a normal and an accepted part of a freedom that we sacrifice for the greater freedom of safe air travel.

To drive, you must be of a restricted age and pass a test to be licensed (and periodically renew it). In Missouri you must show proof of insurance and proof that you've paid your personal property taxes to license your vehicle. We accept these restrictions because we know that it makes for safer roads and we've  become used to them. Having laws against drunk driving doesn't prevent a drunk from getting behind the wheel and killing somebody as a result, yet we still have laws prohibiting it. We have laws restricting speeds in residential areas, stop signs at intersections and all kinds of laws that restrict our being able to get in a car and drive like a maniac. We accept these restrictions to our freedom for the greater freedom of being able to travel safely (or at least, more safely) on the roads of our communities.

In my job, I am restricted from using sleep aids at night. Residual effects might make me drowsy during the day. (I guess not getting any sleep is better than the possibility of a "might make me drowsy.") I can't take any allergy meds or other things that could cause drowsiness. No alcohol for lunch or prior to coming to work; the tolerance is far below the legal limit for driving. These are restrictions to my freedoms that I accept and you (the flying public) approve of for the greater freedom and safe air travel.

All of the laws that we have are restrictions to our freedoms. Yes, people break laws. Just look at our prisons. The USA far exceeds every other country in prison population. Just because murder is "against the law," doesn't mean people aren't going to murder. The fact that people will murder isn't a reason for us not having laws against it.

We (USA) cherish all of our freedoms. We cherish our freedom of expression so much that we've allowed pornography (with some restrictions) to fill our lives through television, movies, video games and internet. We allow violence to be a part of our everyday lives in the make believe world of video games, television and movies and in the real world of sensationalized and glorified media coverage. Sexual morality has given way to promiscuity and we are faced with epidemic STDs and countless unwanted pregnancies and unwanted kids--but those are our rights.

We seem to have forgotten that our freedoms also carry great responsibilities.
And great consequences.

Apparently, the freedom to access decent, affordable healthcare is not one of our freedoms. I recently read an article that showed our prison population to have about 5 times the rate of mental illness than the general population. I guess that we have decided to let our prisons deal with mental illness (however they might choose to do so, given their limited budgets) post crime instead of finding ways to access care that would provide help and might prevent crimes.

The reality of this rant is that I don't have the answer. Maybe that's the frustration that everybody is experiencing.
...And frustrated people tend to be defensive about their positions and offensive towards others with opposing positions.

Somehow, we need to set aside our frustrations so that we can talk. While I don't have the answer for what we need to do, I do know that not doing anything isn't working so well. I really don't want for my country, my community to turn into the kind of unstable area that we see in so many parts of the world (and even in some of our own cities) where death by violence is something that we get used to hearing about and everybody (of any age) is armed. Maybe it's already too late for that.

John <><

1 comment:

Duckbutt said...

Very wise observations, John. Nowadays too many people in our society focus on rights but without an equal focus on responsibilities! And any sense of rights should be modulated by a sense of decency and appropriateness as well.