That’s the topic of the moment, and I realize that it’s insensitive for me to be opening like this; but I also feel that it’s appropriate considering how I feel about the topic. I’ll start by making it clear that I feel terrible for the families and friends, and loved ones of the victims. Fucking awful. It’s terrible that this happened and if there was anything at all that I could think of to say that would make this easier for them, then those would be the first words off of the ends of my fingers.
I haven’t been watching the media much about this so I won’t pretend to know any of the details, I’ve read one article, here, but that’s it. There’s always two themes that come up when this kind of thing happens: Gun control, and prayer. There’s a third thing that some smart people bring up, Lindsay and Kyle are two that come immediately to mind; that thing is mental health support. I’m going to talk about all three briefly, and how effective I think they can be.
Regarding the “American Fetish”: Gun control does not mean banning, or taking away peoples firearms, it means providing access in a safe and controlled manner. Not allowing high risk individuals to possess guns, and having regulations in place that prevent unauthorized access to said guns. Things like minimum age requirements, denying possession to violent offenders, and safe storage laws. People often say that the U.S.A. is some kind of gun happy cowboy-town, and some American individuals may behave that way, but here in Canada we have a lot of guns as well. We have more gun control though – yes, they do have gun control laws in the U.S.A., but they seem to be applied to varying degrees in different states, causing the appearance of lack of control – we can still get all sorts of weaponry, but there’s a process involved that prevents us from rage-quitting our jobs with an assault rifle. And yes, we still have gun violence, shortly after the shooting in Columbine that Michael Moore made a movie about there was a possible copycat shooting in Taber, Alberta. It’s shitty beyond belief, but it happened. Over all, gun control is a good thing, it is a safety net, but definitely not a catch-all. There’s a good writeup regarding American Gun Control here (and the full article it is describing is here[pdf])
Next on the list; Prayer. This may come as a shock to people, but I am atheist, so my feelings towards prayer are ambivalent at their best. That being said, if a person wants to pray they are more than welcome to. It doesn’t hurt me, and if you keep it to yourself – like masturbation – it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It does, however, disturb me greatly when people use tragedy as an opening for proselytization. Fuck you people hard in the teeth. Had anyone said to me when a loved on died that “He’s in a better place now,” or “He’s in Heaven looking down,” I very likely would have punched that person very hard. It’s fine to say to a religious person whatever religious thing is appropriate. But it is never okay to project your faith on those who do not share it. Comfort the living, help the living, but please for the love of everything good and kind: Know. Your. Audience.
That is all on prayer. I could get a lot more ranty, but that’s for a different post.
The last thing I want to talk about is mental health support and education. When I first heard about the shooting, I made the assumption that the perpetrator must have been sick in some way. That was a mistake on my part. He may have been perfectly sane, and just a horrible person. It can happen, I work in retail, I know this. He may have had some disorder, but homicidal tendencies may not have been part of the disease. I’m not even slightly a medical professional so I have no place to make judgements here, and neither does anyone else. Kate Donovan made an excellent point about assumptions like this over at freethoughtblogs, here. Read it, and realize please what scapegoating mental illness can do.
I wanted to say more and be verbose and intelligent, but this is a new blog, and I really should warm up to that kind of thing.