To Bear: A Commentary on Mass Shootings in the United States

In light of the recent events in our country involving school related shootings, I am writing a brief post on the subject. I am a parent, and I am concerned about the state of things and the future my children will inherit.

Mass shootings have become a plague in our social fabric. However, the precise reasons for why these events occur remain to be fully understood – perhaps due to the complex nature of our society. What is at the root of these events? Guns? Mental health? Video games? Financial challenges? Social inequities? Our free society? Society? The answer could be one, all, some or none of the above. One thing is clear: our society, the very roots and our foundation are founded in violent bloodshed. In response to the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Tariffs of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773, many in the colonies decided to fight for fair taxation and representation – this sparked bloody and violent period and ultimately led Declaration of Independence and the revolutionary war. France was simultaneously going through its own revolution – led by the people and a Corsican named Bonaparte. After that turbulent period the thirteen colonies drafted the US. Constitution.  And then the great social experiment began. The ratification of the U.S. Constitution included the Second Amendment which reads as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The idea behind this amendment is somewhat clear – that the people had the right to organize as a militia and to take up arms to defend themselves or to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.

This is where much of the attention is going. That in order to prevent mass shootings, the tools that enable these shootings should be more difficult to acquire by those who seek to do harm. Such questions as: Do we really need assault weapons? Or should more stringent background checks be conducted prior to gun ownership? Or how do we know who seeks to do harm? Or perhaps we should arm teachers?

Laws are there to protect law abiding people. More gun restrictions can minimize gun violence through the decreased availability of guns, but they don’t eliminate that risk. These restrictions would also place an unfair burden on law abiding citizens, and would not apply to those who procure guns by an illegal means. How do we regulate guns as a nation with the presence of the Second Amendment? Nations very in the manner they regulate gunsEvidence suggests that gun regulation may improve on the incidence gun related deaths. The US has the most guns per 100 people – so it is not surprising when the US exhibits the highest rate of deaths related to gun violence.  Nations that have included gun regulation seem to demonstrate fewer deaths from gun violence. But the rate of non-violent deaths seems to remain high. The Second Amendment, which is a right, makes this issue a very complex issue. Gun regulation, by itself, is not going to solve the problem – but it may reduce the number of deaths resulting from guns. More must be understood in order to determine the best treatment for the ailment our country currently suffers from. Additionally, there are things that we need to learn from the totality of data that is out there with regard to mass shootings and those who do those acts. We also need to spend time as a nation talking about this issue and debating, and ultimately determining how to proceed. There is also evidence about the trends and behaviors that are associated with gun related violence including propensity towards physical violence, drug or alcohol use. However, we really need to examine the role of culture in the gun violence debate. Our society, for better or worse, has a long history of bloodshed. It is part of our fabric. How can we do better as a nation? As a State? As a City? As a people? As a person? How are we failing a particular group of individuals who perpetrate these acts? What programs can be put in place to “leave no person behind?” How can we protect our kids while in the classroom? Do we arm teachers? Should teachers get training? Do teachers want training? Should we have permanent police presence at every school? This was my first piece of writing on this subject. Guns are the tool. People are using that tool. Any tool can be a weapon under the right circumstances and with the right training. But I guess the conversation continues. I, for one, need to understand more. But I know that our first job begins with the lessons we provide to our kinds at home. Thank you for reading. Until next time. Same bat time. Same bat channel. “Live long and prosper!”


  1. Life With Lucifer

    But, part of understanding the situation is understanding that we don’t have “assault” weapons.(*legally) We have the assumption that we have “assault” weapons. Sure, like you stated- any tool any be a weapon, and it if it harms/assaults someone it is then an assault weapon. But we don’t have automatic, military assault weapons. Specifically referring to the AR-15, its not an automatic weapon in its true form (if its automatic its been altered by its owner), and its not a military weapon. Its a semi-automatic rifle and not the only semi-automatic gun available. It gets its popularity for its looks, it has “extra plastic” to make it look intimidating for show. However, the basic gun is just like all the other semi-automatic rifles. What we have is a gun that looks like a military gun, a gun that can shoot multiple shots before needing to be reloaded, and gun that has a handgun counter part in many forms but those don’t get talked about because they don’t look scary so they are not popular amongst the mentally unstable who commit these acts of hate. Mark my words though- if you take away the one that sounds alarms in looks alone, they will turn to something else.

    I, myself, am a second amendment supporter. I firmly believe that we have the right to arm ourselves for protection. I believe if you take away our rights to do so you are only taking away guns from law abiding citizens. If you take away our guns these “terrorist” will find another way to act out their harm, and my fear is they will retreat to easily makable bombs we both will know will have a much higher mass death count.

    Rebuttal to the question of why we need these guns- because Im a mom of 4 and not that great of a shot. My husband is often away from home and I know if they day ever comes that an intruder comes in, I may need more that one quick shot to protect my daughters from a monster. I want that safety.

    All of that being said, I am a mother, who fears for the safety of her children daily in our country and agree that we need to find a better way of protecting them. A better way of caring for our mentally unstable. Change is needed, but I don’t think limiting second amendment rights is the answer.

    *** Please note Im not assuming your on either side of the argument, just conversing*****

    • kat

      Thank you for that comment! I “the Husband” am a staunch 2nd amendment supporter. I do go shooting for sport and believe strongly in legal gun ownership as a means of self defense as a last resort. Kat and I disagree on this part of my life but we have a good understanding between us on how to co-exist and be supportive. I want to spark conversation and discussion. As an open minded person I try to listen to all perspectives. There were many drafts of the second amendment and the founders knew that it needed to be broad, and to left it to the courts and states to determine what was best for them (the people within those sovereign areas). And you are right about my post – I aimed for middle of the road. You and I have a lot of common ground just based on your comment. Thank you.
      — The Husband

  2. Laura

    This is a thoughtful piece and an issue that has been weighing on me. The conclusion I’ve come to over time is that support of the second amendment and support of gun control are not at all mutually exclusive; it’s right there in the amendment that the militia should be well regulated. I’ve also come up against the comparison of guns and cars on both sides of the debate several times, and it seems to me that if you can be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon when you hit someone with your car, then the kinds of regulations applied to that deadly weapon should be applied to all. The first commenter had a good point when she said she’d want a semi-automatic weapon (which, sure, is not automatic, but requires only a few flicks of a finger to kill as many people as the clip might hold and is thus an extremely dangerous tool) because she is not a good shot and would want to be sure she hit an intruder. That being said, she might also hit a child or have a bullet ricochet and hit herself. She’d be operating a gun about as well as a first-time driver. Why should she have a gun if she doesn’t know how to operate it? Shouldn’t we have tests for this? Shouldn’t all gun holders know how to use them? You have to have a license to get a car. Yeah, people get cars without licenses, drive without licenses, etc and would likely do so with guns. But do you really want a militia full of people firing randomly? If the purpose of the right to bear arms is a well regulated militia then I don’t see the argument against regulation. And if one can’t become a good shooter, one should count on another method of defense. All that being said, the problem could arise of shooters being more effective because we’ve trained them and they’ve legally obtained a weapon; there’s no way to rule out that possibility. There’s no way to rule out just about anything; the world is chaotic and people are inconsistent. People do not always show off their instability. People can seem completely normal and then commit heinous crimes. I know that some who support gun control are extreme and to them gun control means disarming the people; I am not for that, and neither are a lot of the “liberals” I know. The largest part of the argument that I see right now is the flare-up of “DON’T TAKE MY GUNS, I WILL NOT BE DISARMED AND VULNERABLE!” vs “YOU HEARTLESS BASTARDS THE CHILDREN ARE DYING AND YOU WON’T DO ANYTHING.” Not a productive discussion, no matter how much truth there is on either side. The thing is, there is a problem and people want action. The kids want action. The kids who survived the slaughter, especially. They want to change our country, which I ultimately think is a good thing. The world and our country are constantly changing. It’s a time of upheaval right now because ultimately, the vast population of our country can’t agree on how it wants to be governed. It’s an issue that goes so much deeper than the issue of gun control, or abortion, or any of those hot-button topics. The people who look to the future knee-jerk toward change and the people who look to the past knee-jerk toward conservation or regression.
    Wow. That was an extremely long comment and I’m sure there are holes in it somewhere. This is just the first post I’ve seen on the subject that seems open to multiple sides and it poured out of me. I am tired of extremist ideas being the only ones that hold any sway. I understand that revolutions do not happen based on moderate action and that there are many who are looking for revolution of one kind or another, but if we want to stay as one country (which, for some, is a question) we must look calmly at all angles and then put possible solutions in action; yelling at each other will not prove anything.

    • kat

      Dear Laura,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I have learned, through my wife Kat, that listening is one of the most important things we can do as parents. Your thoughts, as Life With Lucifer, strike at the heart of this complex but important issue. People are important and so is the right to defend/protect yourself. As you have suggested gun control is a part of this complex social problem.I have ssomssome skepticism that something meaningful will come from this. My justification for this thought is evidence d by Sandy Hook: 20 children (6/7 years old) and six adults were massacred. The level of anger died when the sensationalism died down. To your point, because these were teens who were affected,they can fight back. They are being true to the historical responses of Americans who have had enough. Finally, as we both discuss, more must be done, not just fun control but providing perhaps safety measures to deter or prevent these events from happening or to reduce the number of casualties. It’s time to engage in open, free and honest dialogue – uncover the problems and potential causes to truly address these types of massacre s. Thank you for engaging…..change can always begin with one person. And I agree with you that support of gun ownership (support of the second amendment) and gun control are not mutually exclusive. The next couple of months the movement that these teens have started will be critical to help move this important debate to a point where actual change happens.
      -The Husband

  3. jennifermzeiger

    It’s encouraging to read this and the comments. Open, non-volatile discussion!

    My husband and I were just discussing how we don’t want to get sucked into or encourage the extremes on social media. Feeding the monster as it were. But if that means we don’t say anything at all, then we’re not helping the issue either.

    I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment, but as you said, the violence in our society goes deeper than just gun control issues. We see it with drug laws as well. They affect the law-abiding citizens, but for those who don’t care about breaking the law, such regulation is barely a hinderance.

    So perhaps one of the deeper issues boils down to the moral basis. Why do some not care about the law or breaking it? Why do they feel the need to end another’s life? Have we failed to instill empathy for others in our younger generations? How do we address the disconnect these individuals seem to experience?

    Eesh. Think I’ve said more here than I ever have when it concerns a political stance. Baby steps I guess. Thanks for offering an open discussion.

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