Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Newtown Shooting: What I've Changed My Mind About

I posted this right around the time that the rest of you were saying: THIS IS WHY GUN CONTROL C'MON. (in so many words.)

              So, my real thought, my honest intention, was to get my friends to knock off the "I told you so" statuses. Then I get these replies from someone who I not only think is a tip-top human being, he's also really intelligent and knows what he's talking about. Still, I fought back with him because I couldn't believe that liberals were turning the deaths of children into an agenda.

There's a book called What Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink Everything. It's edited by Brian Eno, and the above commenter, whose profile picture is covered by a cat, might really enjoy reading this series of essays. Edge.com went around and asked some of the most progressive members of the scientific and technological communities to write a few pages about what alterations in technology and science's place in politics they felt strongly about in one way about but then, through research, through discussion, or, sometimes, through revelation, they changed their mind.

(Examples include: I thought Wikipedia was bullshit when I first heard about its launch, and now I see that it's a valuable source of information because they found a public system of information sharing that words for them)

Or, my favorite: this pissed me off until I read the essay twice: 
 This essay, "More Nobels for More Dumbbells," was written by a (female) scientist who originally thought that more men had Nobel Prizes than women because of unshakeable sexism, but then found a study that provided unsettling information: There are more highly intelligent men than women, but there are more extremely intelligent women than extremely intelligent men. (Extreme, in this case, is greater that "high.") On the flip side, there are more men in the low intelligence level category than there are women, BUT there are more super-dumb women than there are super-dumb men. If I'd drawn the chart better, you'd see that women's IQs are more likely to be extreme in one direction or another, but most men are in the average range. This made the writer, the female scientist, think that she should never label her goal to get a Nobel Prize as a road lousy with sexism; it was a challenge to step up her game and show that she was a good extreme. 

The POINT of this entry: Eno's introduction basically stated the thesis of the book; if one CAN feel strongly about something, but is then willing to listen to other opinions and rethink the details, and this leads to the realization that one CAN change their mind (and does. Change their mind) that shows a level of humanity that is essential for everyone to have in order for our world to move forward with open minds.

Everyone thinks that they're always right; if they thought they were wrong, they'd change their opinion.

I thought I was right, morally, to say Stop It With the Gun Control thing. I've changed my opinion. What's morally right is to honor the kids' deaths by making sure that nothing even close to this ever happens again.

28 people died, including 20 kids, died on Friday doesn't mean I was right.

Over 20 people "liked" my status, and I feel like I can say that I know what they were thinking; "This is a tragedy, this isn't the time." I agree, by the way, with banning assault rifles (for a start) and cracking down on how guns are sold and who sells them. But I thought I was being moderate because even though I personally wish that no one owned guns (light sabers should be where it's at, plus no long-range sneak-attacks), I think that people should have the right to make their own decision about owning guns. And I thought that my liberal friends were doing the, "I told you so thing."

But the friend that I drew as a cat in the first picture, let's call him Don, initially really bothered me by his responses. I knew it wasn't that he was ruining my streak of everyone agreeing with me, but that I knew that my comment was hyperbolic, off-topic, and crude while Don kept insisting (logically) that I wasn't looking at the whole picture; the way to honor the kids and teachers who were killed by Adam Lanzar isn't to give this event a moment of silence. Yes, respect. Yes, sympathy. But every time something like this happens, the NRA promotes the notion that we need moments of silence so that they can push the issue under the table. throughout history, whenever a group of people have been injured, killed, or wronged, and the victims or the family and supporters of the victims step up and call for change, they've had the ability to effect inadequate policies.

So, I was wrong. Conversations about gun control are appropriate after this tragedy. It's necessary to start now, or we'll have to wait until the next group of victims to die by mass shooting to start the conversation again. And with children, ages 5-10, dead because a 20 year old had access to assault rifles that his mom bought to prepare for the downturn in the economy and then brought Lanza, who was so depressed that he had to drop out of school and needed psychiatric help, to the gun range to teach him out to shoot, Kant would refer to it as our "duty" to advocate, not only  discussions, but serious changes in gun control laws.

I mean, remember this guy:

I couldn't stop thinking about "The Batman" shooter and how easy it was for him to walk into a movie theater and kill so many people.

In Florida, you can carry guns around all the time, as long as they're concealed. In Michigan, you can conceal guns on a school campus "for the kids' safety."

So, my question is, what do we do now?

No selling guns at gun shows, where the buyer doesn't need a background check?
No assault rifles of any kind?
The only people who can have guns have to go through 2 years of training, like one does when they get a license to drive?

Sure. Why not. Let's begin now so that it doesn't happen ever again.

Meanwhile, we have Rick Perry saying that it's his state's right to carry around firearms because they're AMERICAN AND THE FOUNDING FATHERS MADE THE 2ND AMMENDMENT FOR IT RAHH!!!

But our founding fathers probably never imagined AKs. They were referring to the right to own muskets in order to form a citizens militia, where every American could fight off the British or whoever was trying to invade their towns and take it away from them. Let's face it; no one is going to take America away from Americas. No other country wants us anymore.

These discussions should've happened before the Northtown kids were killed. Before the people in the movie theater over the summer, before Columbine.

My mom said something really cool last night. I was saying that Lincoln changed his mind during office (which he did) about slavery and his moral opinion about the issue.

Mom said, "Yeah, that wasn't his original agenda, but the need to address the issue arose and he took the opportunity to change the law. Obama probably didn't intend to make gun control apart of his second term in office, even if he agreed that gun control laws needed to be much stricter...but now, this situation calls for him to enact change. And it's going to be hard for anyone to disagree when it involves the death of children."

In summary:

*I'm really upset that little kids were killed. It was brutal, it's horrifying, and I couldn't have imagined something like this happening twenty-four hours before it occured.
*Saying, "Let's be respectful and not talk about it" isn't really giving the victims or their families the respect they deserve.
*Now is the time to seriously change our country's gun laws to honor, not only the Newtown victims, but all victims of mass shootings. It's time to make sure that people who are psychologically unable to handle the power of a gun, or who are just disturbed or sick (I honestly never know, even if a report is issued about so-and-so's history of mental illness, how much respect or sympathy they deserve. Being one of those people who's diagnosed with a "crazy no-no" disorder, I still don't see myself being so disassociated that I would ever want to pick up a weapon and hurt someone.)

So I've changed my mind. Any ideas about what to do now?