Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guns, drones, & dreams.

I had a dream in which a person that I believed to be a terrible villain was later revealed to be an angel of the highest order and this revelation brought me to my knees and broke my heart open.  I was astonished by how wrong I had been.  A little while after I awoke from this dream, I checked my facebook page where I'd posted this:

"Having worked in police dispatch for the past 17 years and being married to a police officer and being friends with countless other police officers, this article (New York Times OpEd piece, "I Carried a Gun, and It Was Heavy" by a retired Chicago police officer) brought tears to my eyes, just thinking about the weight and responsibility they carry with them every day, so I don't have to. I honor and thank them, because I don't want to have to carry a gun with me to the movie theater or the grocery store or while I go for a walk on my lunch break in order to feel safe. It would just be too heavy, in more ways than one."

and a comment with a link to this other New York Times OpEd piece, "A Way Out of the Gun Stalemate".

Of course, debate ensued.  One of the things that I like about written debates is that they seem to encourage me to really think about what I want to say before I say it. 

After carefully reading and rereading the comments that were posted by people I know and love, I thought, and thought, and thought.  And felt.  And meditated.  And sang.  And cried.  and then gave it some more thought.

What is this debate really about?  Personal freedom?  The esoteric, hypothetical need to defend ourselves from a future government that is overstepping it's bounds and treading on our personal freedoms? 

I don't want to take away the right to have a hunting rifle or handgun from anyone who uses them responsibly, but the argument about needing mega weapons and tons of ammo to defend ourselves from the government leaves me cold and brings to mind scenes like the standoff at Waco and the bombing of the federal building in Okahoma City

I can't wrap my head around how a gun or bomb or any number of guns or bombs could help me defend my personal freedoms from my government.  WE are supposed to BE the government, but even if that goes wrong and our government no longer actually represents the people, who are you going to go to war with?  The police?  I hope not.  My husband is one of those protect and serve guys and he sure doesn't deserve to get shot for enforcing the laws that we have tasked him with upholding.  The local elected officials?  Even if we aren't friends with them, they are our neighbors, members or our community.  How could we go to war with them?  Even at a state and national level, members of the government are people, human beings, someone's baby, someone's mom or dad or best friend, this includes every member of every military organization on the planet.  I can't see how shooting any of them could help keep the government in check and I can easily see how things could quickly devolve into anarchy where whoever has the biggest gun wins.

Because speaking of big guns....   That government, the one people say I might need big guns to defend myself against?  I have a feeling that no amount of rapid fire guns or rounds of ammunition is going to stop them if they really want to do me harm.  They have DRONES.  They are already raining death from the sky, illegally. "The ACLU estimates that as many as 4,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes since 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians."

Having guns of any size or number is not going to stop a government that can have a guy across the world kill you with a drone. 

So how DO we stop our government from treading on our freedoms or killing innocent people? 

I'll say it again, WE ARE our government. The way we STOP the insanity is to STOP allowing our hard earned dollars to be spent on weapons that could easily be used against us just as they are currently being used against innocent human beings on the other side of the world. 

The members of all levels of our government are someone's friends and family members.  The police are members of our communities.  The soldiers in the military are our sons and daughters, yes, even the ones using the drones.  Even the people in the mercenary private police force, Blackwater, are someone's kids.  Even the "evil" bank CEOs and heads of Oil and Gas companies are human beings.

We have to use our wits, not our proverbial swords, to sort out this problem.  We have reached the age when ever bigger weapons can only destroy us all, utterly.  We have evolved beyond the time when might makes right.

What we need is to BE a more educated, awake, and engaged citizenry and to switch our national priorities from defense (fear based) to education, sustainability, diplomacy, & social justice (love based).

I am willing to die for the rights of my friends, family, and neighbors and yes, even for the rights of strangers, but I am not willing to kill for them.  Because on this planet, today, every single human is my neighbor. There are no more strangers. 

So, after all that thought, I'll stand by my assertion that I wish guns and ammunition would be heavily regulated.  No, I don't want to take away anyone's hunting rifles or guns that they use for target practice, but I do think that they should have to go through very thorough training and register their guns and update those registrations yearly and I don't think anyone needs to have machine guns that can kill hundreds of people in minutes.  The argument that a car or kitchen knife can be used as a deadly weapon doesn't stand up to the request for an assault weapons ban because it's very, very difficult to kill many, many people in seconds with a car or knife before someone stops you.  And yes, people do kill people, but some things make it easier for them to do so.  It would be pretty hard for me to kill someone with my bare hands, but with a gun, not so physically challenging.  I'm all for personal freedom, right up to the point that it infringes on someone else's personal freedom.  If I understand the case correctly, the shooter in Aurora had no criminal history and bought all of the things he used on the legal market.  I also disagree with the argument that if we outlaw certain guns only criminals will have them.  Does this mean we should not have laws against killing people or raping people, because only immoral people would do those things anyway?  If there are laws against owning assault weapons and you see a crazy or suspicious person with one, the police can do something about it, but if there is no law against it, there is nothing they can do about it. 

Ultimately, I agree with this sentiment of my friend, Paul, "Call me whatever you will, but I dream of a day when a lunatic can walk into a theatre with only some gravel and a tree branch at most."  I wouldn't attempt to legislate it, but I can still dream it.

Which brings me full circle to the dream I started with, the one in which the person I had thought was a terrible villain was revealed to me to be an angel.  What if I'd shot him while believing I was defending myself or my loved ones against some evil?  I'm not religious and don't even know if I believe in angels, but I cannot imagine the anguish of wrongfully killing another human being, let alone a pure, perfect being of love, and I can't really understand what rightfully killing could possibly be.  Isn't it the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not kill."?  And doesn't that sentence end in a period?  Thou shalt not kill, period.  Or was I just dreaming in Sunday school?