“U.S. President Donald Trump says the mass shooting at a Texas church ‘Isn’t a guns situation,’ but is a ‘mental health problem at the highest level.’ “ (CBC News, 6 November, 2017)
“While no officials have publically questioned Kelley’s [note: name of shooter] mental health, Trump said that ‘is your problem here.’ He offered no details.” (CBC News, 6 November, 2017)
“‘This was a very, based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time,’ Trump said when asked about the shooting…” (CBC News, 6 November, 2017)
“’We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation,’ the president said, making his comments in a country which has restrictive handgun licensing and in 2014 recorded just six gun-related homicides.” (CBC News, 6 November, 2017)
“Trump said, ‘Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction otherwise it [wouldn’t] have been as bad as it was. It would have been much worse.’” (CBC News, 6 November, 2017)
There are those who see my addressing this topic via the tapping of my fingers upon keys as fruitless. “What will change about the situation?? What more is there to say?”
I fall back on the idea that silence is complicity and at the same time understand that no, my words are not likely to change laws or behaviors. I write because I have to.
I write because I have in the past encountered a mentally ill person with a significant stockpile of weapons and ammunition and I write because I tried to do the responsible thing with what I found and the police were of no help.
I write because I find the differentiation between this being a mental health issue and a gun issue to be scapegoating, dangerous, and ignorant.
I write because if someone has a gun pointed at me or at someone near me for whatever reason, their mental health really isn’t my top concern at the moment. One person’s interpretation of a need to defend is another person’s motivation for a killing spree.
I write because twenty seven people died and rather than look at laws that allowed the shooter to own an assault rifle and praise the reduction of the number of those mass-killing weapons, the president said ‘Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction.’
Twenty seven people died because a man decided that this was the way to respond to his situation and I find that a terrifically sad commentary on the state of Society. I write because of that and because I do find it equally sad that it was not worse only because someone ELSE had a gun in THEIR car. Again, I know from witnessing it that the line between defense and provocation is a wavering one and I think it begs the serious question of anyone who is armed—what is your tipping point and how am I supposed to know as someone who is unarmed?
I write because I have good memories of the smell of Hoppe’s oil and melting lead. I have good memories of cleaning rifle barrels and popping out used primers and eating Klondike bars after wearing soundproof ear protection and reading a book in the car while my father practiced at the shooting range. I have memories of being told by my father, my uncle, my grandfather…unless you intend to kill it, never point anything at another living creature….not a stick, not a gun, nothing.
Here at the keyboard, Dad, Grandpa, J, this is me not pointing. This is me using language to say:
For love of humanity, for love of Life, I write. For an end to laws that facilitate the accumulation and stockpiling of arms and ammunition by anyone, I write. For a world that does better by those who need help, I write. For a clarity of vision that pierces the mire of the current state of things with the light of non-violent hope, civil behavior, and promoting peaceful discourse, I write.
I write because things need to change and not at the point of a gun. They need to change at the breaking point. And we have long since arrived.