Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happiness Is...

I bought a gun today. While my husband and I both own several firearms of varying types, this is the first one that I myself had purchased from a licensed store (Arizona is a Community Property State.) I had been looking for a revolver for some time now, a small and inconspicuous but reliable handgun for open-and-concealed carry. This is a military town, almost half it's residents are either current or retired members of the Armed Forces: VERY Republican, and it shows. I can't take a crap at any public toilet without wanting to wipe myself with any number of anti-government propaganda papers that some 'considerate' stranger had left behind.

The Tea Party practically runs this town. 

I've been to this shop many times to pick up ammo for our other guns, John and I go target-shooting on a somewhat regular basis: There's an outdoor range on the outskirts of town that gives a pretty sweet discount for Veterans and Soldiers. Today was the day I finally added that desired piece to our collection: A Smith & Wesson 442 "Air-weight" revolver, a 5-shooter that takes .38 Ammunition but is rated safe for .38+P rounds.

I don't expect you to know what any of that means.

All I had to do was fill out a piece of paper, wait for the manager to make a phone call to the FBI for a 5-minute background check (which I passed) and $500 later I took it home, along with two boxes of .38 rounds for practice at the range tomorrow. Until then they are safely stored and locked in separate containers, the gun itself in a small resin-plastic box and the ammunition on the top shelf inside our metal gun-safe. All in all, the process was painless, granted that Arizona has some of the most lenient firearm laws in the entire United States.

But I did notice something odd when I was filling out the form and it makes me wonder. There's a section of several "yes or no" questions, among them were questions regarding one's mental health status. I don't know what would happen to someone who has ever been committed or diagnosed with a mental illness, depending on what it was and how severe, but from my perspective it looked like all you'd have to do is put the "right" answer down on the paper.

I'm just wondering, if you turn out to be a nutter does anyone actually document it? If James Holmes actually did go see a shrink not long before legally buying a gun and shooting up a theater full of people, did that psychiatrist actually fill out THEIR OWN PAPERS on Holmes and if they did what happened to them? I can't help but wonder if the weaknesses of our mental health structure are a giant tear in the moth-eaten fabric of society for dangerous people to lie their way through and wreak havoc. Unless I'm wrong, it looks literally TOO EASY for a mentally unstable person to legally purchase a gun (so long as s/he hasn't committed a felony... yet.)

I'm not a rifle-waving gun-nut by any mean or measure, I just enjoy going to the range and practicing. In fact, I'm a card-carrying Democrat.

People have been dying at the hands of psychopaths since the dawn of humanity, sadly I don't see that changing any time soon. A lot of people are, understandably, upset over the poor handling and lack of prevention of public incidents involving guns. I would agree that the system is failing people and the innocent lives that pay for that are far too many. I don't think it's a question of HOW, but CAN we keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people without diminishing what "Shall not be infringed?" 

I don't blame the guns nor the bullets, It'd be arrogant of me to do so. I can't blame the merchants or manufacturers either, shit I can't even blame Hollywood. How is it their fault that people who are already on the brink one day decide to do what they pretty much have for centuries? Mass killing involving guns is nothing new: The earliest known incident of a school-shooting in America dates all the way back to 1764, that's before we were even a unified nation. I don't think guns are the problem, it's humanity.

But the law is written in such a way that banning guns is actually illegal (and with good reason.) I've heard some convincing comparisons between the super-far-left Liberal side's push to bottle-neck access to personal weapons to similar means that Conservative efforts have tried to ban abortion and snuff marriage equality: Just as dumb from the other side of the fence. I know you don't want to hear this, but people kill each other every day. Most of the time they don't need a gun to do it.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to walk into Home Depot with a pile of cash and stroll on out with all the necessary ingredients for a home-made IED? And guess what? There's no background check for cut lengths of PVC pipe and boxes of nails.

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and wounded almost 800, he accomplished one of the most bloody acts of terrorism our nation has ever seen prior to 9-11. He did this with materials that anyone, even convicted criminals, are allowed to have and work with. What he did was inexcusable, disgusting and horrifying, and unfortunately unstoppable. It's so easy to look back at violence and say "what could I have done?" This is an understandable reaction, people are traumatized and want to make things "normal" again. Police studies show that many rape victims have been known to change their clothes, even clean their houses, before the police show up to investigate. It's the same mechanism, different circumstances.

We inherently want to go about our lives as though nothing ever happened,  but this just isn't so. Children and teachers were slaughtered like animals in Newtown and no amount of 'regulation' is going to take that pain away or bring dead family members back. I'm sorry, I really am.

The problem isn't guns killing people, it really is people killing people. People who aren't their normal selves or under a severe amount of stress, people who just snap one day and take to a University Clock-Tower. We live in a violent world where people strap bombs to their chests and others shoot up public buildings. Even if you could snap your finger and make all guns go away everywhere, a truly driven murderer will just find another way.

But does that mean we should let just ANYBODY get their hands on a gun? No, I don't think so. Clearly steps need to be taken to prevent as much damage as possible: I've heard suggestions of taking a psych-eval before applying for a conceal-carry permit, or not allowing anyone in a household to own a weapon if even one family-member has a mental illness. Far from perfect ideas, but where do we begin? And how do we enforce the law without violating the rights of sane law-abiding citizens who DO own guns? It's a very hard line to draw!

The manager of the store got off the phone from my background-check, he smiles at me while he writes something on my application for the S&W:

"Good news, according to the FBI they said you're a very nice lady." I call back at John, "Did'ja hear that, love? The FBI thinks that I don't fart!"

If they are unaware of my non-lethal flatulence, I can't help but wonder what any other less-than-honest person could write on a piece of paper and purchase.

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