The Agent on The Florida Shooting and Gun Control (AGAIN)

I’m getting really sick of having to look at this same image every few months in this country.
Source: New York Times

Well, here we go again.

I know I already made my statement on where I stand on gun control some time ago… multiple times, as a matter of fact. But given how the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida is one of the most lethal in recent history, I feel we need to bring it up again.

Yes, I understand that this is still a very recent tragedy and that the emotional wounds are still raw. However, I honestly believe that we owe it to the 17 innocent kids from Florida and the hundreds of others in our country that have been brutally cut down in a hail of gunfire in recent years to have this talk to protect future lives.

As I’ve made clear in the past, I’m not for gun bans – I’m for gun CONTROL. The gun, especially the modern assault firearm, is a very useful tool that has the unfortunate capacity to claim multiple lives in a near instant. The incident at Stoneman Douglas High School is just the most recent example of how we have too many people who lack too little empathy to be trusted with such a massive responsibility.

I feel I can safely say that I have yet to hear a sound argument against tighter gun laws.

“But places with strict gun laws have higher homicide rates.”

Yes, some of them do because of factors like economic status and general education levels. But this isn’t about stopping murders altogether because that would be logistically impossible. This is about denying those with an inclination to kill a means of doing so more efficiently. I think we can all agree that stopping a single victim knife-murderer is both easier and more preferable than a shooter with an AR-15 that destroys lives numbering into the double digits before anyone can respond.

“But Switzerland has mandatory gun laws and they never have mass shootings.”

Not true on multiple counts. Firstly, guns are only mandatory with military service; you have to have served first before they hand you a firearm. Otherwise, you must obtain a ‘weapon acquisition permit’ that requires a valid ID, a residence address, and a clean criminal record no older than three months. And even then, automatic firearms are still prohibited.

As for gun violence, despite having much lower gun death rates than the U.S., Switzerland still struggles with its gun culture. Much like us, Swiss historians believe that it was an armed citizenry that discouraged direct attacks during World War II. But they are struggling to keep track of military-issued weapons which contributes to gun violence in the country.

“But owning a gun is an American right.”

Yes, and that’s what we’re arguing about. You think it’s an inalienable right, I think it’s an earned privilege. And if someone abuses that privilege or are inclined to abuse that privilege, they should have it taken away for the safety of those who know how to handle that kind of power properly. It’s a simple system that every movie geek like myself is familiar with – “Bust a deal; Face the wheel.”

Look, I get that gun culture is a proud American tradition. But the thing about traditions is that they grow stale and outdated as time passes and our understanding of the world changes. As such, it’s our duty to call traditions – major and minor alike – into question when they can be used to the detriment of another. Remember; public executions and slave ownership used to be traditions.

So, while you all heal from this latest tragedy, I hope you continue to find the strength to make your voices heard – to stop the violence for the memory of those lost and the future of those we don’t want to lose.


Understanding America, Gun Culture and The Need For Gun Control

No funny captions today; this is a serious discussion we need to have.
Source: NBC News

So, October is normally the time where I start rolling out the spooky stuff for Halloween. But unfortunately, we need to delay that to talk about a real-life horror story in America.

I really struggled with how to approach the topic of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. I wanted to talk about the gun control issue that crops up every time this happens – which seems to be like clockwork at this point. I wanted to mention how it has barely been a year since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and we’ve already topped it as the most lethal modern mass shooting in U.S. history. I ached to put into words my frustration at how this will likely be ignored again and no new legislation will be made to help protect innocent lives.

But as I wrote this in my head, I realized I would essentially be paraphrasing Jimmy Kimmel’s heartbreaking words on the matter and I feel no need to repeat that.

So instead, I want to try to bridge the gap between the two sides. I want to understand how and why this country that I love so dearly has come to this point and spread that understanding to others in hopes of ending this lucid nightmare once and for all.

Firstly, know that I am not making excuses for people that are against gun control; I am very much FOR the regulation of firearms. And bear in mind that I say that as someone who has made frequent use of guns himself. The Second Amendment, like any piece of text from antiquity that governs the lives of others, is something that is in need of occasional revision.

Second, I’m not calling for a gun BAN. I feel that any rational American knows that a full ban on firearms is not only logistically impossible but also completely overboard. Any citizen of any country should have the right to defend themselves, their property, and their loved ones. The goal of gun control is (or at least should be) to make weapons designed for crowd suppression such as full auto rifles more difficult to obtain – thus reducing the sort of horrific numbers of casualties we see in these events.

That being said, I feel I do understand the logic of where most anti-gun control rhetoric comes from. Like most things that come from those that feel that old traditions are inalienable, the key to understanding their thinking and their concern lies in our shared history.

The United States was, in essence, built by the gun. It was an armed citizenry that took the place of a standing army in the days when we were just a British colony and it was that same armed citizenry that made the revolution a success. The gun was the only thing protecting people as they expanded into the lawless west. In many regards, the image of the American cowboy-style sheriff and his gun is as much of a romanticized part of our history as the English knight and his sword or the Japanese samurai and his katana; a symbol of one man’s power and duty to maintain order and protect innocent lives.

But, it’s plain to see that that isn’t the case anymore. Too many people that lack the empathy and logical reason to wield such a terribly destructive tool exist – not just in our country – but in the world writ large. We need some kind of improved system to keep the gun (or, failing that, the most destructive guns) out of their hands.

And yes, it does seem unfair that those of us who are good, caring, loving and law-abiding citizens have to sacrifice some of our power just because others can’t be trusted with it. But, I honestly believe that if we are half the heroes we romanticize ourselves to be, we would make that sacrifice for the sake of protecting our people from the cruelest among us.

The Agent On Guns (or “I Don’t Want To Ban Them; I Just Don’t Want The Wrong People To Have Them”)

I have no jokes here – this article hurt me to write.
Source: The New York Times

Field Operatives… I am SO sorry to drag you into this.

I know there are tons of people that are fatigued by gun control debate to the point that the discussion offends them, but that’s kind of the reason we need to keep talking about it. It’s a serious issue and ignoring it just because it makes you angry or uncomfortable is just plain childish. In fact, the reason I didn’t immediately jump on this topic is because I was so shocked by the recent Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that, in a disgustingly uncharacteristic move for me, I was actively trying to NOT think because it made me physically ill to do so.

But, I’m beyond that now. I’ve taken to long to say what’s on my mind as it is and I need to say it.

Here’s the simple fact that we need to understand; a man who was on an FBI watchlist on two separate occasions, had a long history of violent behavior dating back to 3rd grade, and came from a religious background known for its intolerance towards a group of people that he personally identified with (Omar Mateen was revealed to be a closet gay man) was given access to tools designed SPECIFICALLY for the purpose of killing.

I can’t help but feel like SOMEONE should have been able to predict something like this would happen.

Now, as I’m sure you gathered from the title of this little rant, I’m not one of those people who are staunchly anti-gun. I believe that we all have the right to defend ourselves from the cruel, the psychotic, and the tyrannical. If it came down to killing a madman or watching him kill the people I love, I would take up arms against him every time.

But, I’m also the kind of person that doesn’t want to fight in the first place if it can be helped. That pressure that I feel on my finger and wrist as I pull the trigger; to me, that’s the weight of someone’s life barring down on me.

I try to think of it in terms of if I was a police officer. As an officer, my duty would be, “to protect and serve.” That protection covers EVERYONE – even the most lost souls among us. That’s why the best officers try to end a standoff as peacefully as possible; if someone – absolutely anyone – dies, then they’ve failed their duty.

Basically, I’m trying to get you to understand my thinking in why I support, not the banning of guns, but the introduction of stricter gun laws. We have enough people looking for better ways to win a fight; it’s time to find better ways to avoid having to fight.

I understand that stricter laws and lengthy background checks can be a nuisance to gun owners, but you have to think about it in terms of every other safety procedure. We have to take tests in order to pilot speedy vehicles. We need approval from doctors for medications with dangerous side effects. We need training in order to operate heavy industrial equipment. Doesn’t it make sense that something designed with the intent to destroy whatever it’s aimed at should have a screening process just as, if not more rigorous than any of those potential killers?

And yes, people who want to kill will find a way to kill; I get that. But the goal here isn’t to prevent murder (that’s practically impossible), it’s to keep the emotionally unstable from killing more efficiently. If you were a homicidal person that was denied a gun due to having a history of violent behavior, do you think you could get similar results with, for example, a knife? Unless you have the speed of The Flash, then of course not.

All I’m saying is that if it weren’t easier for me to get a gun than it was to get approved for my new car loan, then clearly disturbed people like Omar Mateen would be far less likely to ruin as many innocent lives as they do.