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Putting a gun to our head

Somewhere today in this country there is a troubled kid who believes life is not worth living. People see him or her as a freak, a danger junkie, a gun-nut, a nerd, a weirdo, or someone who otherwise does not fit in.

That child is stockpiling weapons and plans to make the rest of the world pay for his or her pain.Today in a school somewhere in this country children are going about their day not knowing they soon will be part of the narrative of the dead and injured who are victimized by the disaffected, the mentally disturbed or the outsider who felt unloved and unwanted.

Afterward, thoughts and prayers will be offered. The liberals will scream about gun control, the NRA supporters will repeat their slogan that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” or some variety thereof, and after the victims are buried or cared for we will go on, collectively forget what has happened, take no action and then the cycle will repeat itself.

This is life in the United States. we are a cowboy loving, gun-waving country of scary people. A reporter friend of mine in Lebanon recently overheard someone in that war-torn country say, “We’ve got it bad here, but at least our children are safe going to school.”

Meanwhile in Prince George’s County, nearly a dozen schools have had vague threats lodged against them since the latest school shooting and one child at Clarksburg High School is in jail after judge John Moffett refused to allow bail in a case where the Clarksburg student was found with a loaded weapon in school.

Turns out the kid also had a cache of weapons, a manifesto of complaints and some inert grenades.

This is not an “ISIS” problem. This is not a “White Supremacist” problem. This is not an immigrant problem. This is not a religious problem. This is an American problem.

Life is cheap in the United States. You can get capped for a pair of athletic shoes, a $20 bill, a bag of weed or just because someone is pissed-off. We run endless commercials about caring for stray dogs and cats, but we also ignore the homeless population teeming around us.

People stockpile weapons ready for a war they would, in some ways, like to see if for no other reason than to justify the thousands of dollars of weapons they have stockpiled at the expense of enjoying life or paying necessary bills.

When we began cutting federal dollars for mental health and assistance to families – first under the Ronald Reagan administration and extending through the current Trump regime – we began the downward spiral that gives us mentally-disturbed teens ready to take their frustration out on unarmed children at a school as if the shooter was playing a warped, real-life version of their favorite video game.

Meanwhile, gun lovers want no restriction on ownership of semi-automatic rifles that are often used in these killing sprees. Education about the dangers of firearms is seen as the only rational action in the minds of those who want the cache of weapons.

On one hand, the gun lovers have a very valid point – guns are merely the instrument of death. People are the problem. People who kill people are the scariest people in the world. If our country spent enough on education, helping the poor and the mentally ill while promoting real family values – including the value of human life – we would not need stricter gun legislation.

The day we wake up in this country and refuse to take a life is the day we won’t need any gun legislation.

But we’re a far cry from that. We’ll kill you if we don’t like what you have to say or how you look – so in the meantime we’re going to need some stricter gun laws - and conservatives are going to have to vote to adequately fund the agencies enforcing those laws.

In that way, the liberals are right.

But in all sincerity, even stricter laws will not curb the killing. We barely invest enough in the federal budget for the ATF to do their job. Additional levels of legislation in no way guarantee that someone won’t fall through the cracks.

And the first time someone is able to fall through the cracks should there be stricter legislation, those who support unfettered access to firearms will point and say, “SEE! It didn’t work!”

Meanwhile, Wednesday afternoon hundreds of students – many of them from Montgomery County, showed up at the White House to protest the lack of gun control.

First a moment of silence and then a chant of “Hands up don’t shoot!” came from the teens frustrated and frightened by the lack of concern exhibited in Congress and at the White House regarding the multiple shootings – including the shooting of a Congressman on a baseball diamond last year.

My faith remains firmly in those kids who see more value in human life than adults my age who cynically stick by their “liberal” or “conservative” guns (pun intended), ignorant and callous with more care in playing politics than caring for other humans.

 

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