Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guns Part 3: What I've Heard

I've been thinking a lot, as most people have, about my perspective about gun violence and what should be done.  I've done a lot of learning, such as educating myself on the difference between a clip and a magazine.  I've been listening to my relatives, my colleagues, and my friends and congregants who are school teachers, police officers, parents, and politicians, and to my president--of the UUA and the USA.  And I've been listening to the NRA, and not just the clips played on MSNBC. 

My friend Dani Meier, for example, a long-time anti-violence advocate, gun owner, and school counselor, wrote a HuffPost piece titled "Thoughts From 'A Good Guy With a Gun'" in which he writes, "First, as microcosms of society, schools will always have some students, parents, and teachers with anger problems, mental illness, or poor self-control. As educators, we regularly try to model peaceful conflict-resolution, 99.9 percent of which we successfully deescalate despite significant volatility. And when we don't succeed, weapons are not needed. Introducing guns in those scenarios, in fact, invites other kinds of nightmares."  He also says, "I am a decent shot, but I am not -- nor will most educators ever be -- like Dirty Harry, capable of picking off a moving target amidst the chaos of innocent children and adults scrambling for cover."

My friend the police officer, to illustrate another opinion, doesn't think bans on high-capacity magazines will make much difference.  I respect his opinion, although it goes against what most liberals are calling for.  He says, "3 ten round magazines equals 30. A magazine change can take a second, so limiting it doesn't have much of an effect."  While I think he's probably right, I also, therefore, don't see how it's too much of a restriction on the second amendment to put such a ban in place.  And a dropped or fumbled magazine during a shooting could make potentially make a world of difference.  My officer friend also thinks the open-carry advocates go too far, and that they should be required to carry their license and prove upon request that they are allowed to carry the gun when they are practicing their open carry rights.  And he says, "Of the guns that I have personally taken off the streets, or ones that have been used in crimes (including homicides) that have occurred in [the city he works in] I can't think of one that involved an assault style rifle, or large capacity magazine. Shotguns and pistols are the weapon of choice to the street criminal. I have never had one gun that was also registered to the criminal. Most guns are stolen, or taken from someone else."  I think he has a point, and that when we look at what would stop a mass shooting like the one in Newtown, it's a different set of solutions than would stop the individual shootings we see in Chicago.  And both are huge problems in our society.  We're focusing too much on stopping the violence in Newtown and not enough on stopping the violence on the streets of Chicago or Detroit.

I went to a Detroit event about The New Jim Crow recently hosted by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, and heard people there talking about gun violence from a multitude of informed perspectives, and one person talked about having police in schools from a different perspective than I'd heard shared elsewhere.  She said that it was her suspicion, based on the cases she'd seen as someone who was in a position that injustice cases were brought to her, that when there were police officers put in school, children's behavior that might have been resolved in other ways tended to get criminalized.  I think it's important if we're talking about police officers in schools, that we think about what some of the unintended consequences of that might be.  

The Rev. Peter Morales, the UUA president, in another HuffPost piece, writes, of what he thinks President Obama should do saying, "We join with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence in calling for change."  (Who "we" are is unidentified, by the way.)  Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence states:
  1. Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check; 
  2. High capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians; and 
  3. Gun trafficking should be a federal crime. 
I respect the thoughtful views of all of these people, and the hard work that President Obama and Vice President Biden have done.  It's a complex problem.  And I largely agree with their solutions, although I'll go more into that in the next piece in this series.

2 comments:

Joel Monka said...

These are the most thoughtful pieces I've seen on a subject that many of us are ambivalent about. Keep writing!

Cynthia Landrum said...

Thanks, Joel!