The Old Guy: They say it’s not the guns. So what the hell is it?

Second Amendment


They say it’s not the guns.

A white 84-year-old man in Missouri shot a young black man who was looking for his siblings and wound up at the wrong house.

They say it’s not the guns.

A man in upstate New York shot and killed a 20-year-old woman who mistakenly pulled into his driveway.

They say it’s not the guns.

A cheerleader was shot to death for accidentally getting into the wrong car.

But, they say it’s not the guns. So what the hell is it?

In the first case, the motive might have been racial, as the young man was Black. In the second case, the woman and her friends never got out of the car; as a matter of fact they were turning around to leave when the man fired twice and killed the 20-year-old woman. There was no proof that he was threatened in any way.

So, what the hell is the reason behind so many shootings this year?

“Stand your ground” laws permit people to use deadly force to defend themselves if they feel threatened. Recent shootings have occurred in open carry states, many of which, like Tennessee, do not have red flag laws. Those are laws that prohibit the sale of weapons to someone who exhibits behavior that make them a risk to themselves or others.

Bur, it’s not the guns, because that’s a mental health issue.

Spoiler alert: It’s the guns.

More people are killed by guns in the U.S. than in other countries. Eight out of 10 murders or suicides are caused by guns. The chance of someone dying by gun increases dramatically when you have a gun in your house. The highest percentage of gun deaths are in states like Alabama and Mississippi.

For more, read here: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/02/03/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/.

Gandhi said it’s not hate, but fear. It is fear. Fear of the other, the stranger, the younger. Fear that is stoked by certain news agencies who we now know basically tell folks what they want to hear instead of telling them uncomfortable truths. But that fear, simmered and stirred, eventually morphs into hate.

And I don’t want to hear arguments regarding the second amendment, which apparently is the only amendment some people have ever actually read or care about. Because, if you’re going to claim your right to bear arms, then your state must have an accompanying red flag law in place to keep guns in the hands of responsible people and our of the hands of homicidal ones. That’s called accountability. All freedoms come with a price.

But, it’s not the guns. No…it’s not only the guns. Guns are a weapon, a tool, a device. What is powering these tools is hatred, in some cases racial. And hatred cannot be legislated away.

I blame the pandemic for increasing our feelings of isolation, fear and helplessness. I blame legislators, like the disgraced Bill Lee, who refuse to ban assault weapons, refuse to enact red flag laws and refuse to stand up to the NRA who, despite claims of bankruptcy, seem to have a stranglehold on certain members of Congress. And I blame a culture that glorifies guns and war and violence as solutions to problems.

Violence has never been and never will be an answer to anything. Violence only breeds violence. Those that live by the gun or the sword, by fear and terror, by abuse and bullying will, in turn, perish the same way. Gandhi also said:

“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers and, for a time, they seem invincible. But, in the end, they always fall. Always.”

The man who shot Ralph Yarl, resulting in city-wide protests, surrendered himself. The man who shot Kaylin Gillis was charged with murder. And, while these actions symbolize forward movement, hundreds of missing indigenous women are still cold cases. A Staten Island bishop was recently arrested in a 40 year old cold case murder.

Love is the only answer. Taking time to learn about other people, other cultures, other lives. Unless, of course, you’re of school age in Florida. Then, you’ll learn a whitewashed version of history and could be shot dead by a young white male who feels alone and misunderstood.

The answer is you. The answer is us. We must demand more of the people who represent us. We must state our unwavering support for gun legislation and human rights for all and be willing to both call out and condemn those who do not. It’s our only way out of this massive mess we’re in.

Stay safe. Protect each other. Hold those marvelous grey heads high and choose love.

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