Thursday, December 20, 2012

The NRA, the 1st Amendment, and the 2nd Amendment

I'm not one of those people who doesn't acknowledge that the 2nd Amendment exists. It does, we live with it. The right to bear arms isn't a free-for-all, though.

I can't get anti-aircraft weapons. That's good. I can't get a bazooka. I can't get a tank. These are all reasonable restrictions.

The chatter right now is that the NRA is poised to blame video games and the entertainment industry for the violent culture they've created that's contributed to mass shootings.

This is ridiculous.

Just because the 20 year old man who killed innocent people played video games does not mean that video games are at fault. I can tell you right now that an Xbox controller makes a terrible weapon.

The 1st Amendment comes absolute first for a reason: it is the most important one to a successful democracy. The video game industry self polices itself quite fine, actually. I have a full beard and am obviously too old to be asked for ID before I buy a Mature rated video game but guess what? I get carded. In fact, I get carded more for purchasing a video game than I do for buying alcohol. Why is that? It's because the video game industry polices retailers and educates retailers about the rating system so that little kids can't easily buy a shoot 'em up.

Why can't the NRA look itself in the mirror and agree that similar restrictions should be applied to guns? Responsible gun ownership implies hoops to jump through. A video game is not a weapon. It is an artistic expression sold for pleasure. It's intent is to entertain. A gun's intent is to kill or destroy.

I've met many responsible gun owners. When I was in the Midwest, I went to a shooting range that was closed. The gentleman who manned the store told us that the first rule of a gun is, "Do not point it at something in which you do not intend to kill or destroy." That tells you right there the implied uses of a gun.

For the NRA to presumably come out swinging against the 1st Amendment as if it is an integral piece of the puzzle that causes mass shootings is a joke. Almost every person I know plays video games, reads violent pulp stories and novels, watches action movies with great enjoyment. None of these people are violent murderers.

The truth is that when guns are easily accessible to anyone, bad things happen. A video game has never been a weapon of mass murder. A gun has time and time again.

I do not advocate banning firearms outright but there are some common sense restrictions that, if you are a responsible gun owner, should be no skin off your back.

A waiting period. An extensive background check. Mandatory education about safety for guns. Banning the sale of automatic rifles. Limiting the number of bullets in a clip. These are all reasonable and still preserves the right to bear arms.

For all the hoo-ra-ra that comes out of the NRA, they are opposed to almost all of these and do little to advocate for firearms education. Instead of looking themselves in the mirror, it appears they are readying to blame video games and entertainment for the shooting. This is irresponsible.

America needs to look at its mental health policies and it needs to look at its gun policies and make some real changes but blaming freedom of speech and expression for murder? That's a bridge too far. If you're a responsible person, you would recognize that guns make murder a hell of a lot easier. Not only 'bad people' go out and commit crimes. Regular people snap and go crazy, too. It's time to stop scapegoating and start soul searching.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Violence, Tragedy, and Gun Control

The United States has been plagued with mass shootings this year and it's time to start talking about what is causing it. Our society cannot continue its self-destructive path.

Too many times, I've heard people say, "Gun control doesn't work because criminals will always have guns."

I suspect that today's shooter in Newtown, CT was not a 'criminal' and probably obtained his guns legally. Let's remember that the people who lost their lives today were not gang members killing each other. It was one man who decided to kill 20 children and 6 adults. They were not deserving of their deaths, they didn't join a life where dying by the gun is an acceptable end. They were going to school.

I live in a state (Texas) where anyone can get a gun in under an hour. This is unacceptable. There is a right to bear arms but that doesn't mean that we have to get them as soon as we want them. Responsible gun owners would be perfectly fine with regulation; that's part of what responsibility entails. If you want a gun, why shouldn't you have to wait for weeks or even months to be approved for purchase?

To drive, you have to go through months of training. There's no such federal law mandating that kind of training for driving but states know that cars are killing machines and long periods of training are necessary before handing out licenses. Guns should be treated the same way. There is no other reason for a gun but to kill or destroy. If you are protecting your house, that's fine. But let's call it what it is. You are in possession of a gun for protection and the means of that protection is to kill the intruder. It is a killing machine.

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people." I'm sick of that cliche. If the shooter had a knife rather than a gun, the scale of his massacre would be no where comparable.

You romantic revolutionaries, pretending that guns are necessary to protect against tyranny: You're wrong. You already have a weapon to protect against tyranny. In fact, you have many: peaceful assembly, freedom of speech, the right to vote, to name a few. What worked for rural colonies no longer works today. Your poster boy, Thomas Jefferson, even acknowledged that constitutions must change otherwise they impose their own tyrannies. The right to bear arms, unregulated, unchecked, is not compatible with our society. It worked when the threat of invasion from the British was real. It worked when people weren't packed like sardines into cities. It worked when not every city had its own armed police force. It worked when there was no national army. We have progressed past the point of that necessity. It is no longer valid.

When you say, "America has a violent history." You're right, but no more violent than any other country. The story of Europe is a story of violence and war, yet they do not have the same problems we do when it comes to citizens killing each other. Our past is no more nor no less violent than any other country. Our present is more violent than most. The madness needs to end.

There are a ton of people, their hearts pointed in the right direction, who waste energy protesting against war. It is any wonder why countries go to war? Just look at the societies they are built on. We are a violent people, we are full of rage, and we are full of pettiness and until we can start treating each other with respect and patience on a personal level, we will always have war on a global scale. We are tearing each other apart from the very bottom, how can we expect our leaders to be any different?

My thoughts are with all of the victims today and I hope that we can make a serious effort to limit the risks of having a government that believes the right to own a gun, unregulated, is greater than the right to live free of fear.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Out of the Gutter 8

Howdy folks.

Out of the Gutter has just released OUT OF THE GUTTER 8 and it features one of my flash stories, "Two Cowboys Settle A Dispute." You should check it out. Everything Out of the Gutter posts on their site is phenomenal pulp reading and I am honored to have been selected to be anthologized in print.

Click here to buy the paperback. 

Click here to buy the ebook.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Out of the Gutter 8

Get your Ebook version of Out of the Gutter 8 today!

My story, "Two Cowboys Settle A Dispute," is in it!