‘Campus carry,’ hardware store ‘hero’ and more gun madness

It’s only a matter of time — weeks, days, hours . . . minutes? — until the next mass shooting in America.

We’re all so tired of this. Tired of the “thoughts and prayers,” the anger and intransigence on both sides of the Second Amendment, the empty rhetoric from our alleged representatives.

This has dragged on so long (Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Charleston, etc.) there’s virtually nothing new to say, nothing fresh to add to the discussion. I try to read the comments on social media about the Oregon murders, and it’s so infuriating and polarizing, so depressing, I have to turn away.

To sports. Netflix. Anything.

I start to feel better in my escapism, my apathy, and then I think of my three sons. They’re in their 20s, and they’ll have to live among the madness longer than I will.

Bottom line, I hope they don’t get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time — a pretty pathetic goal for a parent in a civilized society.

America’s entrenched gun culture scares the shit out of me. Somehow we allowed the Oregon murderer and his mom to have 14 guns in their home, all nice and legal. The mental health screening argument doesn’t wash with me. Why does anyone need 14 weapons, other than perhaps you’re planning to take six of them into a classroom and start firing?

I like what Australia did, although I doubt it would fly here. The country imposed tough laws after a 1996 massacre that killed 35 people, and it hasn’t had a mass shooting since. Suicides have also declined.

The U.S., for all its collective smarts, has really fucked up on this. We’re dying in droves — innocent kids, battered partners, the depressed who can get it over with quickly and messily, the street toughs who didn’t have much hope to begin with.

I understand now why some splinter groups have tried to form their own utopian societies, out of fear or disillusionment with what surrounds them. But the Oneida Community didn’t last long, and Jonestown and the Branch Davidians . . . those didn’t work out so well.

Since I can’t flee to some uncharted island, I hope lawmakers realize the “solution” to our gun problem isn’t to let everyone start packing heat. Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System show it’s not a good idea, but facts, which can be annoying, get in the way of an ideology rooted in selfishness and ignorance.

As soon as I start thinking America’s not crazy enough to revert to the Wild West, I stumble upon things like this: starting next August, some Texas college students will be able to bring guns to class and other areas of campus.

It’s a state law dubbed “campus carry.”

What a really, really bad idea. Tell me the faculty and non-carrying students aren’t going to be scared to death any time a controversial topic comes up in a crowded lecture hall.

(I can hear the argument now: “If a ‘good guy with a gun’ had been in the classroom at Umpqua Community College, he could have stopped the ‘bad guy with a gun.'” I doubt it, since this bad guy was also wearing body armor and had a lot of ammo.)

Anecdotal evidence aside, allowing more people to carry guns just isn’t the answer, whether it’s a 21-year-old on a college campus, your child’s kindergarten teacher, the crossing guard, the neighborhood barber.

There’s the dangerous tendency to play the hero, as a woman did in Detroit this week, pulling out a gun and firing several shots at a shoplifter’s vehicle in a Home Depot parking lot. No one was injured, and the shoplifter got away.

The shooter, a 46-year-old with a permit, happened to be in the area, put two and two together and came up firing. She could face charges.

One firearms instructor put the woman’s actions in the “worst nightmare” category. No. A “worst nightmare” would be if the shooter injured or killed innocent bystanders — say, a child in a car seat or a guy who went to the hardware store to buy a drill.

What an awful way to die. What a stupid way to live.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Irish Investigations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to ‘Campus carry,’ hardware store ‘hero’ and more gun madness

  1. Dawn Lammert says:

    Right on Jim. I feel your frustration. I shouldn’t have to worry that my husband goes to work to teach students. I shouldn’t have to worry that I work in an academic institution either. But on top of the obvious gun legislation issues, we live in a society that now excuses anyone from critical thinking and navigating their emotions in a rational, self-reflective way. Instead of being concerned that a student can’t reflect on a book title from 1966, we trigger-warning jacket all potentially uncomfortable books in a library. That kind of guidance leads to a generation of people who act without thinking at the first conflict that is not readily solved by a click on the computer.


  2. markbialczak says:

    Deep thoughts well expressed, Jim. I’ve said this on somebody else’s blog after the Oregon shooting, and I’ll repeat myself here. We as a society are proving that we do not deserve that right to bear arms that the forefathers wrote into the blueprint so passionately.


  3. Win Thurlow says:

    In the history of time, not a single life has been saved because an armed bystander was able to stop a shooter. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that a shooter has been, or ever will be deterred by the fear that his victims may be armed.

    Here is what we do know: thousands of people are killed in this country every year by people wielding guns. Those who oppose gun restrictions have failed to address this issue. It isn’t enough to preach to the choir. We must demand that everyone be part of the solution.


  4. Jim McKeever says:

    Win, I agree. It’s beyond comprehension how nothing changed after Sandy Hook. Twenty-six kids and teachers in an elementary school are gunned down, and ho-hum, America’s spineless leaders twiddle their thumbs, afraid of the gun lobby and losing votes. Meanwhile, another shooting this morning at Northern Arizona University.


  5. Well done Jim. Great post. I really have nothing to add as I agree with everything you said. My wife teaches at two universities here in Edmonton and the schools have started doing drills in case there is a school shooter. Crazy stuff.


  6. Thank you Jim for your measured and thoughtful post.

    I find it disturbing that here in Canada, where we have strict gun control laws, we too are polarized, we too have drills in case of school shooters, we too worry about guns on our streets.

    We are not doing well at living together without fear! Carrying a gun does not make the fear go away, it makes you more dangerous too.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Thank you, Louise. There are plenty of statistics to prove your last statement, but somehow those facts are lost on some people. There’s a wonderful homemade video I saw this morning on moveon.org, by a gun owner/former police officer, Mark Carman. It’s well worth checking out.


  7. ermigal says:

    Great post, Jim, thank you. What a tragic way for American society to live. Sadly, those of us who disagree with the state of affairs have allowed this to happen, waiting for things to change, letting the gun-lovers bully others into passivity. We need to decide, and act, on this question: what kind of country do we want to live in? I am voting strictly on this issue from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paul says:

    As a Canadian,I can see that America’s pursuit of armament is making ISIS very happy – after all if you kill each other, it saves them the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was up in Flagstaff a few days after the shooting there and I must say it was a very subdued place. The eateries at lunch time are usually just overflowing with chatter, laughter, and high spirits. There was a collective hush about downtown.

    This is an important piece you have written Jim. I feel it is so necessary for all of us to use whatever means we have to let our voices be heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim McKeever says:

      Thanks, JoHanna … that’s an interesting observation about post-shooting Flagstaff. It seems, a few weeks later, that the clamor for reform seems to have subsided as well. Our nation has a short attention span, I’m afraid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • But the shootings continue. I think we should have electronic billboards installed in every city that keep the totals of deaths and injuries by gun violence posted every day. Or the major US newspapers and media outlets could close or open with the daily totals.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Jim McKeever says:

    I love the billboard idea, JoHanna … and maybe the faces of the most recent victims and their families, too.


  11. I totally agree with you, Jim. Whoever thought allowing guns on campus clearly blacked out during their youth. Alcohol, drugs, guns … what a great combination. It’s a sure recipe for diaster. Everyone wrings their hands, but those who want guns lament ‘nothing can be done.’ Well, something does have to be done if we want to feel safe when we go to public places – grocery stores, theaters, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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