TN Therapist’s Open Letter to “Gun Advocates”: Who Makes You God?

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By Barbara Sanders (via tennessean.com)

Dear gun advocates,

Some of you want pistols to protect yourselves and your families. Some are vigilantes, like George Zimmerman, who want to keep neighborhoods safe. Some are police, some of whom need to use weapons more responsibly. Some shoot defenseless animals for sport. And some own military weapons that can mow down large groups of schoolchildren or moviegoers.

I am writing to this last group. Please, help me understand . . .

It may be a constitutional right to bear arms, but the Constitution said we have the right to bear arms in a militia, those arms being muskets at the time, guns that you could shoot once, taking much time to reload. Not AK-47 weapons.

Please, help me understand.

Why these weapons? Are you waiting for a once-rare-but-now-more-frequent mass shooting or another shooting so you can save the day, planning to kill the “bad” guys? How many times might you have that opportunity in life? One can always hope, I suppose.

Have you listened to police chiefs who say that they don’t want their staff entering an active shooting scene where “bad” shooters and “good” shooters are battling around innocent families and children, unable to discern who is bad or good? Do you think you can shoot your AK-47 and hit only the bad people instead of innocents as well?

Please, help me understand.

The police might mistake you for a “bad” shooter. The might shoot and kill you. The investigators will also need to determine if your bullets killed the innocent. Are you asking to be imprisoned?

Maybe you just don’t feel very good about yourself or your life, and you need to boost your confidence and self-esteem by openly carrying a giant weapon, hiding your disappointing body parts and/or your psychological distress. Maybe you really are fearful, thinking that Muslims are taking over this country, and if not Muslims, that perhaps black and brown men and boys are wreaking havoc. Maybe you have been severely traumatized and need help.

I still don’t understand.

Who makes you God? Even if you were in a challenging shooting situation, are you the judge or jury? Can you sort out facts in the heat of the moment instead of using our justice system to work through an agreed-upon process for determining innocence, guilt and sentencing?

I, for one, am extremely frightened of you because you hold my and my family’s lives in your hands when you carry your weapons of mass destruction around our schools, parks and churches. Tiny children find your weapons, thinking they are toys, forever ruining or ending their own or others’ lives. Who gave you the right to endanger so many people?

Please help us all understand your thinking, feelings or logic. And then, maybe we can have a safe and honest conversation about your fear, your anger and your obsession with power, control and violence.

Barbara Sanders, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in Nashville.

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