chasing answers newsletter #9
Memorial Day, guns, and politics
“We are so sure we know what freedom is in America that we cannot imagine a world in which true freedom might come after sacrifice of personal rights. Freedom is sending your kids to school with confidence that they will come home at the end of the day.” - Taylor Schumann
We’re back! We’ve made it to #9, and double digits are just around the corner. If you are new, welcome to the crew! If you like what you read here, or really even if it’s just tolerable, please share with your friends. Every time I get a new subscriber email, it’s a little boost of motivation to keep going.
Today is Memorial Day here in the U.S., so let’s not forget those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us. Between the backyard BBQs, an extra day off work, and killer deals on a new bedroom suite, it’s easy to forget the purpose of the holiday. Like most other things, it has been commercialized to the point where the meaning is lost. Let’s try to do better in that area.
To all the families out there whose loved ones have fallen serving our country, your families have sacrificed for mine, and I Thank You.
I debated whether or not to publish this newsletter today, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was the perfect day for this topic.
It’s not what I wanted to write about this week.
Or any week, for that matter.
I really hate politics and don’t spend much time watching, reading, or listening to it. But our political system is broken.
When I decided I wanted to begin writing, I told myself I wouldn’t write about these types of topics, and I don’t believe most people want to read about these types of topics either.
But I feel like I need to get this out. So here we go.
America’s Gun Problem Is A Political System Problem
Everyone knows what happened this past week in Uvalde, Texas. I don’t even want to type it out here, so I won’t. If somehow you don’t know, google “Uvalde.”
What happened is tragic, incomprehensible, sad, terrifying, devastating, and all too common in the United States.
The U.S. has a gun problem.
And a political system problem.
I grew up in a family of gun owners. I come from a long line of hunters on both sides of my family. Everyone I know owns guns. Not “a” gun, guns, as in multiple. I own more than I care to admit. Most of the guns I own were inherited from my Dad when he passed away a few years ago. Some are family heirlooms passed down from my grandpa or even my great-grandpa. I have no practical use for most of them. I, unlike most of my family, am not a hunter. I went the opposite direction - a vegetarian of nearly 20 years and a huge animal rights advocate. But, I still have the guns and may never be able to bring myself to part with them.
Despite never being a hunter, I have always believed strongly in my right to own guns and in my right to use them in self-defense should I need to. For that reason, I have purchased a few guns in my life, all handguns. And there is always a loaded 9mm in our home, in a safe that I can quickly access. This is how I was raised. If your family is threatened, you don’t reach for a telephone; you reach for your gun.
I do not want to lose this right. I do not think I should lose this right. But something has to change.
I did not come to this conclusion in the days since the Uvalde shooting. I came to this conclusion a decade or so ago after years of contemplating it. We need stricter gun control laws in the U.S. I’m not saying a ban on all guns. I’m saying we need to do something that makes events like what happened this past week less likely to happen again in the future.
We will never eliminate every shooting. There will always be sick, demented individuals out there who will find a way to access weapons they should not have and perform unmentionable acts on completely innocent people.
But there are things we can do to drastically decrease the chances of this happening again.
One of those things is to pass H.R.8. H.R.8 is a gun control bill that would make every gun sale in all 50 states dependent on the purchaser passing a background check. Currently, federal laws only mandate that sales made by licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, and licensed dealers are subject to background checks. So any sale between two individuals can legally take place without any such check. This includes many sales that take place online, at gun shows, and at flea markets. According to a study released in 2017, “22% of gun owners who reported obtaining their most recent firearm within the previous 2 years reported doing so without a background check.”
All H.R.8 says is, let’s try to get rid of the 22% and make everyone get a background check.
That. Is. Fucking. It.
Let’s just make it so that everyone buying a gun is in some way vetted to make sure they should have one.
You know, kind of like how we all have to get a driver’s license to legally get behind the wheel of an automobile on the highway.
Or how every barber in the country has to have a license to cut hair.
God forbid someone messes up my bangs. But purchase an AR-15? Yeah, why the fuck not?
There is one reason this can’t get passed.
Our political system sucks.
The two-party system under which the U.S. operates is dysfunctional beyond belief. It strips politicians, who are people, by the way, from thinking for themselves. As the country becomes more divided, this only gets worse. The middle ground keeps shrinking, and the far left and the far right keep growing. And everyone knows the truth always lies somewhere in the middle.
Politicians are afraid of alienating their “base,” or even worse, agreeing with the other “side.”
There are very few who think for themselves and make decisions based on facts. They have a label of Democrat or Republican, and they have to go along with what defines that label, even if they may not personally agree with it. To do otherwise would land them in the dreaded middle, a politician with no home.
In this particular instance, it is the Republicans who are to blame. But don’t be mistaken; I fully understand both sides are guilty of this.
We are talking about something as common sense as trying to prevent criminals from getting their hands on weapons that could kill innocent people. This isn’t about taking everyone’s guns. It’s about preventing innocent people, innocent children, from being murdered.
But, the Democrats are for it, so the Republicans have to be against it.
These politicians are, for the most part, all intelligent individuals. There is no way that behind closed doors, with no one listening, any of these people could honestly say to themselves, “it’s perfectly fine for anyone who wants an AR-15 to be able to get one.” No one is that fucking stupid.
Yet, by not passing a bill requiring mandatory background checks on all gun sales, that is essentially what they are saying.
And for those that argue, “it’s not the guns, it’s the people,” give me a break. There’s really nothing wrong with cocaine either, as long as no one uses it. As long as it’s in a baggie lying on someone’s table, it’s completely harmless. It only becomes dangerous when a person uses it. By that logic, nothing would be illegal. Everything is perfectly safe if people always do the safe, responsible thing.
Republicans are afraid to take action on this for fear of upsetting their supporters that sit the farthest to the right. They are the ones who adamantly oppose this and who will be the loudest should it ever pass.
There is one other major factor that prevents Republicans from passing H.R.8.
The NRA gives Republicans way too much money for Republicans to turn on them. This isn’t a problem with just Republicans and the NRA. The system is broken. The political system as a whole revolves around money. We may like to think it revolves around ideology and great leaders. It doesn’t. It’s the money.
Our politicians will grasp at anything to not give up their money and to make sure they disagree with the opponent.
What about the second amendment?
It doesn’t say background checks should be required.
The people who say shit like this remind me of the kid in my fifth-grade class that routinely got in trouble for cussing and tried to argue that the teacher was taking away his right to free speech.
Get over it.
Yeah, they didn’t have mandatory background checks when they wrote the Constitution. Do you know what else they didn’t have? AR-15s.
They didn’t have speed limits on their city streets either. Know why?
They rode fucking horses.
As the modes of transportation changed, the rules had to change with them.
Weapons have changed. The rules need to change as well.
It is insane that we are even having these conversations. I have a daughter starting kindergarten this fall, and I am scared to death to send her. I know the odds are that nothing catastrophic will happen to her. But this is my daughter’s life, not a wager on a basketball game. I prefer not to just play the odds.
I live in the United States of America and am worried about sending my daughter to school.
I think I can stop right there. That one sentence pretty much says it all.
That’s it for this week.
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