A series by Liberty Speaks….
Violence and Blame
Over the last ten years I have seen my share of violent mass shootings take place in our country. Newtown, Aurora, Tuscon, Ft. Hood, Virginia Tech. and Columbine are the six shootings that most people can name off-hand at any given moment. There are also a couple of shootings (which I will discuss in part two), that personally touched my family, specifically my husband. Many people in our nation have asked for an open dialogue about gun violence. I felt it was time that I would start one. Maybe, what we need to do is wait and breathe before automatically deciding it is the weapon to blame instead of the individual who commits that act. After all, there is no such thing as a deranged weapon.
Back in January of 2011, I felt compelled to write a note and place it on my Facebook page, Liberty Speaks, for all to see. I was disturbed at the quick condemnation of the First Amendment and the accusations that speech was to blame for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of six others. Below is that note, with a few updates which will be highlighted.
There is no such thing as a “deranged weapon”
January 13, 2011 I wanted to wait a few days before I threw my opinion in regarding the 1st and 2nd Amendment and the actions of the shooter in Tuscon. Too many people started to pontificate with in hours of this horrible tragedy. The rhetoric has been visceral and dividing of this nation. Pundits and politicians have been throwing blame around like confetti at a New Years celebration. Within two hours of the shooting Talk radio, Conservative politicians, “hateful” speech and of course, gun ownership had all been blamed for the shooting. Here is the rub….no one even knew the shooter’s name at the time.
Regarding the First Amendment–
I have been very disappointed in the main stream journalists ability to report based on the facts. I myself, started the page to honor facts and protection of the First Amendment. It is not, I repeat, NOT speech that causes violence such as this. It is our ability to talk, discuss, debate and argue our points that separates us from the beasts in the wild. We all have our differing opinions on what is considered acceptable speech, but the underlying promise within this context is that our speech remains free. The people in Tuscon were doing everything to honor all that the First Amendment stands for by acting on their freedom of assembly rights. Congresswoman Giffords was holding the meeting, called “Congress on Your Corner”It was to be a town hall style forum for her constituents. It was an opportunity for the public to extend there freedom of speech to her and her with them. It was not our societies First Amendment rights including Radio and TV personalities, or politicians that brought us to this tragedy. Debate can not burglarize your home, opinion can not commit arson and rhetoric does not shoot you at a town gathering.
Regarding the Second Amendment–
I found a quote that best describes not only this situation regarding gun ownership but my feelings on the subject as well. I am a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment and feel that this right should and shall never be infringed upon.
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson’s “Commonplace Book,” 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764
Last time I checked, there was no such thing as a deranged weapon. You can not have a knife stalking you. A tazer can not be placed on trial. You can not arrest a harassing baseball bat, and gun’s do not have psychotic breaks. Not all of these Items I have listed are what our leaders consider traditionally part of “Right to bear arms” However, they are among many items that have been used as both weapons for self defense and weapons for violence against our citizens. These facts bring me to my last point.
There is no such thing as a “deranged weapon”
There have been many tragedies in our modern civilization which have occurred to cause us to take a look at our freedoms. Only a handful have been politically and ideologically motivated. To name a few, the assassinations of President Lincoln and President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King, the attempted assassination of Gov. George Wallace, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the Fort Hood Shootings and our most horrific event, September 11th and our day of true terror.
However, with these events in mind, we must take a look at the many others which the motivations behind the acts of violence are not readily available to us. Examples would be Charles Manson, David Chapman, John Hinkley, the Columbine murders, the Virginia Tech killings, along with any serial killer we have read about in the papers. We now can include Jared lee Loughner to this list. These motivations could not be found rooted within politics, Right or Left, Conservative or Liberal, or in direct relation to our freedoms granted to us by our constitution. They are foreign to the rational mind. They are an offense to our moral compass and and our knowledge of right from wrong. They are born out of mental illness, sociopathic tendencies, paranoid delusion and disconnection with society. Why did Jeffry Dahmer do what he did? Only our Psychological professionals can come close to answering that question. but will they ever truly know?
We want as a society to be able to blame acts such as these on something we can control. We want quick justice and response from our law makers and law enforcement. These are knee jerk reactions. Through no regulation or revoking of our rights will we find comfort. We are a free nation because we are an armed nation. We also must use our First Amendment rights for truth just as strongly as we do for opinion. “
I received many responses to this note, but one stood out as the most telling. They are the words of just one American who’s feelings and concern’s should be heard. I won’t reveal their name but I must share their comment:
those of you who have read my comments on other posts already know my position on this issue…i have another thing to add as well…a few years ago samson alabama (my hometown) was the site of alabamas largest shootings…i watched family members, friends and coworkers get killed by micheal mcclendon…the one thing i do know is if i or any number of the hundreds of law abiding citizens that was present during the shootings were armed, that shooting would have been stopped long before it spanned 3 cities and 2 counties…he was able to continue the shooting spree because he was the only one armed and it took the police several minutes to resond…even then he was on the move and they were playing catch up to where he had been…he wasnt expecting anyone to return fire and by the time the police caught up with him 9 people were killed before he took his own life…if just 1 armed citizen could have intervened the result would be quite different…July 27, 2011 (For information on the Geneva county killings look here)
It is interesting to me, looking back on this note over two years later, that nothing has changed in this country. It is a shame that asking for an open dialogue after a tragedy seems to mean “control the narrative” and what ever you do, don’t breath and just think for a moment. A truly serious conversation should take place and it does not lie with attacks on our 1st Amendment nor the Second Amendment. Too many politicians have tried to say the Second Amendment is out dated. If this is to be the mindset, then the First amendment is just as out dated. The First amendment and the Second Amendment are blood brothers. They are inseparable. They stand strong together and neither can live without the other. The true conversation on gun violence is that which no one seems to want. It is not about politics, nor gun control, nor is it an interpretation of what our Constitution means. It is about the violence itself and what is behind the eyes of those who commit it, and survive it.
In part two of this series, the topic will be about two women, three mad men and the aftermath of their crimes. Please tune in and breathe. -Liberty Speaks