By Charles Romano, Co-Founder; Legislative Oversight & Knowledge Initiative
Another week, another incident of violence in the United States. By no means do I wish to trivialize the deaths of those in the Charleston church with anything I write. I don’t want to sound apathetic about it either; people have died and families have been torn asunder by those deaths . . .
People were murdered in a place that has, in its various forms and permutations been considered a place of worship, peace, and above all sanctuary. These people had done nothing wrong, save for the error in being in that place, at that time, and having been brought unto this world with skin of a different shade than that of the monster that sought them out. I refuse to acknowledge that now captive creature as human as his actions, and even his premeditated thoughts and words verify to all that he was nothing short of a creature who lacked the basic attributes of empathy or humanity that should be the qualifications for one being considered a human.
Within seconds after the atrocity had been reported the questions came, followed shortly by pleas and demands from Americans of every sort up to and including our elected leaders. They showed the defeat in their eyes and their general body language as they made statements about the event. Many were quick to lay blame on their colleagues for an ability to affect what they believe would have been necessary steps to prevent such tragedies.
“When will this stop happening?” they questioned.
“We need to control access to guns!” Some shouted angrily.
“Mental illness is the real problem here!” others would decry.
I have some sobering news for everyone; these things will never stop happening…anywhere. It is not a matter of access to firearms. It is not just because of a sudden rash of mental illness amongst the populace.
It is because human beings are truly terrible to one another.
That statement might make many balk and claim I am just another naysayer or nihilist out to scare everyone into following his lead but if you look at the facts throughout history it is a tellingly true statement. Since the dawn of mankind, there has always been violence between humans. It started as the simple animalistic need to control territory, food supplies, or acceptable mates. As humans evolved, so did their requirements for inflicting violence. With the advent of organized religions or the identification of other cultures, people began to do violence for the purpose of subjugation, repression, or pure eradication just to ensure that those deemed “lesser” would pose no threat to someone’s way of “cultured” existence. Violence became grander as humanity expanded and advanced and more and more cultures clashed and empires defeated their enemies and absorbed their peoples or refugees tried to escape their assaulted homelands only to find themselves feared and attacked in the very countries they sought protection from.
Even today, in our “civilized” world, we face down the very common and very real threats of ultra-nationalism, bigotry, racism, sexism, or misguided idealism. White versus Black. Christian versus Muslim. Muslim versus Jew. Man versus Woman. Environmentalist versus Capitalist. Heterosexual versus Homosexual. American versus, well, everyone else. Wars have been fought for these reasons to name a few but far more common are individuals acting upon these very prejudices which seem to be ingrained into every person thanks to mere genetics that tells them to fear and vilify anything that is different from themselves. Thankfully, the VAST majority of us are capable of at the very least wresting control of ourselves from such programming despite even one’s upbringing it seems to become more accepting of that which is different. It could (and has) been said that our most recent generations of humans are the most understanding and open than they ever have been. Still, there are those who are unable to suppress such urges and all it takes is one or two events to trigger mass reactions that can set our progress back by decades.
These monsters are not human. They are animals. They are terrorists who seek to harm, horrify, and kill those that they believe are the root cause for the problems in the world. Some do it out of desperation or attention. Others commit such acts just because…well just because. These monsters act suddenly and without warning. They could be the quiet, soft-spoken loner who never fit in. They could be the three young men approaching the elderly man as he goes out to his car to get groceries. It could even be the upstanding social butterfly who decided they just hate everyone because no one liked them enough. You all know who I am alluding to with these examples. There are thousands more I could reference. It is because of these animals, because of this uncertainty that I walk around my house with a gun on my hip. It is why I have taught my wife how to use one. Having a gun certainly is no guarantee that I can protect her, or myself; but it offers us a far better chance of survival than dialing 911 and hoping the cavalry comes in time to save us. And shooting under stressful conditions can definitely hurt our ability to protect ourselves in such circumstances. That is why, like insurance, I’d rather have more bullets than be forced to carry less.
Does this make me a monster as well, for owning or carrying a firearm? I think not. I have never harmed another human with a weapon and hopefully, I’ll never have to. But owning an object like an AR-15 or a Glock should not force me to be labeled as someone potentially dangerous just because some piece of filth used the same objects to murder others. Does it make me paranoid; believing that there is the possibility some random person or persons would seek to do me or my wife harm at every turn? Perhaps. But truthfully, as the worn adage goes, I’d rather have a gun and not need it over needing a gun and not having one. It should also be pointed out, that my use of firearms is not limited solely to thoughts of self-defense. I have used them to hunt coyotes in the past (mostly to cull diseased or livestock threatening animals) and I most actively participate in competitive target shoots as time and effort permits.
We cannot lessen this tragedy or others like it. But at the same time we cannot allow these acts to inhibit the ability of others to exercise their rights to protect themselves from such monsters OR to allow such events to cause others to brand and stereotype gun owners as a collective of ill-bred, under-developed, over-compensating, misogynist, white racists intent on overthrowing the government. But, should you exercise YOUR freedoms to be just as bigoted and intolerant of gun owners as you believe gun owners are intolerant of anything that isn’t a gun…well that’s your right too even if it does come across as hypocritical.