January 6th started out like any other Friday. As a writer, I try to shut off my home to the outside world to prevent distraction. With the invention of the Internet, we jack ourselves into a system that never stops running and is always feeding information. However, if there is an emergency or something important happening there are ways to get ahold of me. I received a series of text messages from my girlfriend, a sign that something happened, either with her or the world. Opening my phone I learned there was another mass shooting.
A man in Fort Lauderdale, Florida opened fire in a baggage claim area killing five people and injuring eight others. This was the last count I heard. What shocked me wasn’t the shooting or the people dead, it was my apathy to the situation. I put my phone down and went back to work. I have become so desensitized to these things happening I am no longer surprised and find little interest in the story.
Mass shootings in the United States has become the new normal.
I first noticed this change in the public mind when a man killed several police officers in Dallas, Texas during a Black Lives Matter rally. The shooter was a member of the military who was angry about the number of black men shot by police officers every year. The suspect was later killed after a robot was sent into the building he was hiding in and a bomb was detonated. A week later, I couldn’t find anything new about the story. The media had moved on to other things they deemed more important.
I am a gun owner with a concealed pistol license and a hunter. As somebody who is a part of the gun culture I know there needs to be a change in gun ownership policy and that means more regulation. Just like everything else in our political system there are extremes on both sides that lead nowhere to changing a flawed system. The pro-gun movement will say that everyone has the right to own and carry a gun regardless of the history of that individual. The anti-gun movement will push for the removal of all guns they say are no longer needed in a peaceful society. I ride the line in the middle with the idea that certain people should be allowed to own guns for various reasons while there are certain people who should not be allowed to get their hands on one for any reason. Granted, that sounds easier than it really is and I understand that.
When I applied for my concealed pistol license (CPL) three years ago, there was a system set into place that everyone had to go through. As part of the background check in Michigan, if there was anything in the person’s past that was questionable a board could refuse their application on the grounds that it was not safe for the public. This didn’t prevent anyone from owning a firearm, however it kept them from legally carrying a concealed pistol. I had to go before the board. After a series of questions, they stated I would be allowed to receive my CPL. If they would have denied it, I would have been okay with that, too.
Owning firearms is not a light matter.
There are several things I do not understand about the gun debate. When a doctor prescribes certain medications, the patient is not allowed to drive or operate certain machinery. Many anti-depressants have the side effect of suicidal thoughts and violent behavior; we have known about this since the 1990’s. Depending on the state, if a person goes to a hospital and admits they have violent or suicidal thoughts local police will confiscate firearms from that individual for their own safety. Ernesto Santiago had contacted the FBI in Alaska reporting that he was being forced to watch ISIS execution videos. The agents had him go under mental evaluation and took his pistol as evidence. Ernesto was released from the hospital, his gun returned, and he boarded a plane to Florida. At what time, should authorities say “that person should not own a firearm?”
Driving is more regulated than owning a gun. A car is designed for transportation while guns are designed to kill animals and humans. Currently, in my home state, I can walk into a store and purchase a firearm with a quick run of my driver’s license number and walk out minutes later. There isn’t a test, a required class on gun safety I have to take, or a background check to see if the person buying the gun is on medication making the purchase a bad idea for himself or others.
Many of our veterans are killing themselves at a record rate, the preferred method is the firearm. The results are assured and their training guarantees it. Currently the number of suicides in regard to our vets outnumber the people we lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. Just like the mass shootings we have been seeing in our country, the public has become numb to this fact. I don’t like what our country has turned into. I don’t like that I no longer care about mass shootings and that I can simply shut my mind off to a serious problem. I know I’m not the only one.
Since I received my CPL, Governor Snyder has made it easier to receive one. The board no longer exist and a CPL cannot be denied unless there is a felony conviction on record. There is no longer a waiting period for the purchase of a pistol.
In the state of Michigan access to firearms has become easier to a larger group of people with less restrictions.
People will argue about the Second Amendment and personally, I have little concern for it. The constitution is a living document that has been changed over time to adapt to a constantly changing country. We have seen the creation of prohibition and its demise. Women were given the right to vote in a country where “all men were created equal.” The constitution started changing once the last words were written on it and will continue to do so. Because amendments can be added and changed, that means the Second Amendment can also be changed. The debate on gun control needs to continue. Hearing about mass shootings or being the victim of one should not be a normal part of our lives. There needs to be a connection between our medical and mental health facilities and gun ownership. When a man can contact the FBI, go under a mental health evaluation, and still board a plane legally with a firearm to end up killing people at the end of the flight, we have failed as a society. The right to life should always outweigh the right to being selfish.
Photo credit: Getty Images