Valentine’s Day. The day of love. 17 people dead in Parkland Florida at the hands of a disturbed individual who walked to his former high school and opened fire with a gun that he purchased legally.
Again, the questions about guns, our country and how we got to a place where days like this are way too common. In writing this piece all the difficulty around this topic becomes more apparent. But the following is what I have thought about in the days since the latest tragedy in our country. I am not preaching here and I don’t wish to offend anyone. I’m just sharing my thoughts and I will be kind about it. I ask you to do the same.
In the US here are a few things you can do. You can:
Buy a Hummer- (yes, there’s a new, 8,000 pound, 2018 model)
This gas sucking, ego propping, fun toy, status symbol, a danger to everyone else on the road (According to a study by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, if you are in an accident with an SUV, you are 3.4 times more likely to be killed than if you had been hit by another car. Simply put, on the road, mass wins. The 8,400 pound H2 and 10,000+ H1 weigh significantly more than the average SUV, and are thus some of the most dangerous killers on the road.) is something you have every right to buy. I’ll admit, it might be fun to barrel around in the woods in a Hummer, but barreling down the highway in a Hummer is really dangerous to humans. So might you, for the safety of others, consider sacrificing and exercise your right to NOT buy a Hummer?
Say what you want-
With the exception of things like yelling “fire” in a crowded place or directly inciting violence, you can pretty much say anything you want on a public street. But do you? Do you yell out hateful things to people on the street just because you’re allowed to? Should a hateful statement even be a part of speech? Do I want harmful words in my vocabulary just in case I might need them, like say, when someone else says something hateful to me? Or should hateful words and intent be something that I make, “not an option”?
Own a semi-automatic rifle-
Do I need any of these things? Do I need a Hummer? Do I need a vocabulary that includes words and intent that hurt people? Do I need a semi-automatic rifle? You might say I have lots of things I don’t need. That is true. So then my question is, “Is it a good idea to encourage the manufacture and use of things that are designed to cause harm?”. Nasty words with ill intent are designed to hurt someone. A gun is designed to hurt something or someone. Hummers were designed for war. Currently it is my right to own a gun, a Hummer and say what I want but aren’t I responsible for how that right might and does play out? Of course I am. Regardless of the law, I am responsible for the choices I make.
In the wrong hands guns cause harm and if I purchase a gun I encourage the manufacturing of more guns. That’s basic economics. And if there are more guns does that increase the number of incidents, deaths, injury etc. by guns? I think it does. Even if I think about owning a gun for protection it is statistically correct that the homicide rate during burglaries is a tiny fraction of overall gun deaths, committed during burglaries or otherwise. This is a big reason many people state for having a gun in their home. Do I need to prove my right to have something by having it?
What if everyone who didn’t need a semi-automatic rifle, didn’t purchase one? If the demand for something goes down, so does the supply. Would having less guns around prevent more deaths by guns? There will always be sales of guns won’t there? If a bad guy wants to buy one won’t they find a way? Some will. But how many bad guys could we stop from buying a gun that eventually kills someone if we limited the availability of them or limited the kinds of guns sold? And what if we were more careful about who gets a gun? Would the greater good for the greater number be the result? John Stuart Mill is the creator of the greater good concept. I always liked it. Definitely it means that the individual may be limited, not harmed, for the greater good but I’m not opposed to that.
Frankly, I don’t think anyone (private citizen) needs or should have a semi-automatic rifle and 68% of Americans agree. Aren’t we willing to give these up until we can figure out how to stop the madness of mass murders in our country?
I understand that people have collections of guns and like to target shoot but really? Yep, you’re allowed to but do your have to? Could you give it up a semi-automatic for the chance that one more person like Nicholas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people in Parkland Florida, couldn’t get one? You might think that if he wanted a AR-15, he would have gotten it even if he had been turned away at the counter. But I don’t necessarily believe that. I think lots of people intending to kill people with a gun, would either miss their opportunity or be greatly impeded if it was WAY harder to purchase a gun and impossible to purchase a semi-automatic, a gun designed for war.
You have to go through more to drive a car than you do to purchase a gun. In light of the horrific mass shootings our country has suffered, shouldn’t purchasing a gun be harder than it is to get a driver’s license? Look I don’t like taking tests. When I was 18 and I got my driver’s license. Would I have preferred not to take a driving test? Yes! But knowing it was for the safety of others on the road as well as my own, the state made me take it and I did and I’m ok and my rights were not impinged. And if some law told me I wasn’t allowed to drive a Hummer because it’s ridiculously heavy, dangerous to others on the road and bad for the environment, I would not have a problem with that. I could, in the spirit of the greater good, give it up. But maybe no law will ever stop me from doing some of these things. What is our responsibility as citizens in all of this?
Are we smart enough to think of a way to keep guns out of the hands of would-be killers by the way that we screen a person buying a gun without infringing on anyone’s civil rights? Why wouldn’t I want to do that?
What’s at the bottom of all of this?
The day that this latest mass murder happened holds the answer.
I think love or hate is at the bottom of everything. One or the other is the reason for everything we as humans do. The things we say spring from love or hate. The things we do are driven by love or hate. Even the things we think are informed by love or hate. It sounds simple but it’s not. I sometimes ask myself why I’m doing something and I have to really dig to get to the bottom. At the bottom is love or hate. If it’s not good, it takes me longer to get to it. If it’s hate then it’s usually me expressing hate to myself. It looks like I’m being hateful (that sounds very strong but hate masks itself in “dislike” or “mean”) to someone else but really beneath it all, I’m being hateful to myself. When love is the answer, it’s easy for me to see it and to feel it. I know when I’m doing something out of love. Don’t you feel it when you’re making a choice out of love?
After this Valentine’s Day, I asked myself what it would be like if love were more present in this world. Would less people want guns? Would the AR-15 be “America’s Rifle” or “the man’s Barbie Doll”? Would Nikolas Cruz have walked to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and murdered 17 people? Could love have prevented this? Certainly but I don’t know how. This is a young man who beat his girlfriend, who beat up her new boyfriend, who shot a pellet gun at animals in his backyard, who said he was going to murder people. Only love in him could have changed that and I don’t know if love from anyone could have put love in him. But I sure would like to see a system, a community where things like reaching out to someone who is troubled or causing trouble is everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s concern. Isn’t that worth a try?
What if a call from a concerned citizen, was more important to the FBI than it seems it was in this case and the possibility that someone might be hurt was upmost? If Nikolas Cruz did not receive enough love in his life/he was abused as a child and someone had taken the time to address it would he have turned to such a violent act?
I heard a senator on the news earlier this week say that he is proposing a bill that would put armed guards in all our schools. That to me is a band aid and an ongoing economic drain. It does not get at the root of the problem of gun violence…hate. What if we took money that might be used to put armed guards (and purchase MORE guns) in schools, and instead used it to develop programs that are an expression of love: programs that build community, that build safety nets for troubled people falling through the cracks, that build better communication and action networks between school officials, parents, students, family members and community leaders. How about some money for programs that teach us how to be more attuned to people who are struggling and when it is time to step in and try to lovingly and effectively intervene? I’d be willing to give my tax dollars to that.
If a store owner knew about Nikolas Cruz’s trouble at school, his comments/posts online, him cutting himself after his girlfriend broke up with him, do you think that gun store owner might have paused? Do you think there should be a background check that could share the kind of information that teachers, students and a man on FB all had about Nikolas Cruz? Do you believe that if a person talks or writes about using a gun to do terrible things or they beat their spouse they should be allowed to have a gun? I don’t.
At the end of the day I am left with what I choose to do. I choose to vote for any law that bans semi-automatic rifles. If this saves one life, it’s worth it to me and I won’t feel like any right has been taken from me. I don’t hunt to feed myself and I don’t target shoot, so I choose to exercise my right not to own a gun. I commit to intervene if I think someone needs help even if I think I don’t have the time or don’t have the resources to help. I should tell someone I love them every day at least once a day and maybe someone outside my immediate family. I have a friend, Kim Yonkers, who tells me every time he sees me that he loves me. I think he tells everyone he sees every day that he loves them. What a way to live! He draws love to himself and everyone around him.
I believe if I choose love, then I know what choices to make. I don’t need a law to tell me what to do or not to do. I know how to conduct myself.
Valentine’s day holds the answer…It’s L-O-V-E.
What do you think?
Here are some of my upcoming shows. For a complete list visit my tour page
I hope you tune in/come.
*Tuesday, Feb. 27 - WRUW FM 91.1 - 8am
I'll join one of my favs, DJ Charlie Saber, for Rock and Country Casserole. Charlie and I will talk music and spin some of my favorite artists that you might not hear on commercial radio. Listen live and please, give us a call Studio Phone Line: (216) 368-2208
*Friday, March 2 - Fox 8 Morning Show (Cleveland) - REALLY EARLY!
*Saturday, March 3 - Music Box Supper Club - 8pm
Discounted for loyal mailing list members
*Friday March 16 and Saturday March 17 - Studio Sessions (Intimate acoustic trio show) @ Stocker Arts Center (Lorain County Community College) - 8pm
Let's share some music, Anne E.