I couldn't sleep last night; probably a combination of coffee, stray dog in the yard, big puppy on the bed, and hubby gone on business... but I did a lot of thinking about the tragedy at Virginia Tech while I lay there in the dark.
Pissed Off Housewife says to not have the knee-jerk reaction of 'we need stricter gun laws.' I agree in the respect that gun laws will never, could never, would never prevent this type of tragedy. The shootings that happened in the classrooms at Virginia Tech were premeditated; no one has that much firepower on their person without planning to do a lot of shooting.
For me, though, lying awake in bed last night, yesterday brings up a much, much bigger issue than gun laws. Where are we as a society when someone has such a huge void inside them that they must kill others and themselves in an attempt to fill it? Where does such despair and rage come from? If this were a completely isolated incident I could attribute it to one very messed up individual, but this has happened regularly enough that I have to look to our society. I think perhaps we all have a hole somewhere inside that needs to be filled; that each of us fills that hole with something different--religion or food or drugs or sex or work or mindless activity...but that for some people the emptiness inside is simply too big to be filled.
In one of his books, Daniel Quinn makes the analogy of the frog and the pot of boiling water: if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water he will jump right out, but if you drop the frog into cool water and gradually raise the temperature to boiling the frog will simply float blissfully until the last moment, when of course if is too late.
Is the water finally boiling? Is that why we seem to see tragedies like yesterday's more and more often?
I don't believe legislation could ever solve the problem that causes this type of massacre, because I believe that this is bigger than any law could ever be.
What happened yesterday really doesn't have to do with guns...
As far as guns go, I'll be honest and say I don't like them. I know how to shoot a gun. I've been hunting. I eat meat. I have seen exactly what a gun does to a living thing--and I still eat meat. This is not a protest against hunting. My dad was a hunter and owned guns all while I was growing up. He still owns guns, as do most of the people in the community where I now live. My children have participated in shooting sports through the local 4H. I believe absolutely in the right to own a gun, though I don't believe I will ever have one in my home because I don't like guns.
But--while I don't for a moment think that stricter gun laws could have prevented this tragedy, I do believe in strict gun laws, and here's why.
The first reason has to do with impulsive behavior and human emotion. An angry person should not be able to run out and purchase a gun. Yes, yes, I understand that regardless of gun laws, someone who REALLY wants a gun will find one--my point is that it shouldn't necessarily be easy.
The second reason has to do with education. No one should own a gun unless they know EXACTLY what the gun is capable of when it is used on a living thing. Two hundred years ago when our constitution gave us the right to bear arms, everyone in this country knew what happened when a bullet was fired into living flesh because people killed their own food. I remember the first time I saw my dad shoot a partridge: it was standing in a clearing in the forest. In my memory the sun was shining, the gun fired, and my world changed. I believe that many people who have a gun in their home don't truly understand what it will do. When I see a news article about one child accidentally shooting another, I think 'there are parents who do not understand what a gun does.' Again, I hear some of you saying that not everyone would follow a law requiring gun education classes. That's true, but many would follow the law.
Let me reiterate: I believe in the right to own a gun, but I also believe in gun laws, even though they would not have prevented yesterday's tragedy.