Giving Up Our Rights…

Working in a fire station, we have had so many interesting discussions lately about the terror in Newtown, CT. Many of my co-workers and fellow EMT’s and the fire fighters that work with me own guns. Many guns and some like the weapons used in the shootings. So this has opened discussion about guns, gun safety, gun laws, personal protection etc. Sometimes the discussions get heated, but so far have remained respectful. I ask  because I really don’t understand or get the love of guns. I truly don’t! I’m not being funny or an activist here or anything. I simply don’t get it.

I’ve been a vegetarian and a pacifist for many, many years, so I respectfully just asked my colleagues to explain the need for all their weapons and ammo. Each had different reasons actually, and each had a different reaction to what should be done now in the wake of the horror. All agreed it was horrible, but not all thought gun laws should change. Some took pause and wondered if they should sell some guns, others staunchly said never. Some may buy more.  But discussion always included the fact that guns were not the main reason this happened. And I agree.

Almost anyone agrees that multiple factors were at play to cause this tragedy. And we can never 100% know the reason. But the question I wonder about now is how our rights as citizen’s get curtailed, taken-away, or changed based on death, tragedy or bad circumstances based on someone’s behaviors? I was trying to point these things out to my co-workers: it’s not only gun laws that change in light of awful things, but other freedoms.

One I think of right off is buying things like Sudafed other ephedrine type substances. There was a time you could just go into a pharmacy and buy packages right off the shelf…a few packages if you want. Until meth labs starting using it to make crystal meth. Now an ordinary citizen must go and ask a pharmacist for it behind the counter, and I would imagine if I asked for too many, a red flag would fly up! This seems to me an infringement on my freedom. But it’s in reaction to bad stuff that’s happened. The government felt it had to step in a do something about it. Just like they are doing now about the gun laws (or talking about anyway).

We could use drunk driving also. The laws in place for this too. And making cars safer as so many people died. Speed limits lowering, seat belts, airbags, car seats, blah blah. Are these my rights being curtailed? Maybe I should be able to drive 80 everywhere? With no seat belt or anything. Maybe I don’t want to pay for safety equipment in my car? Do I have a choice? No, I don’t. As a kid I used to lay on the back seat of my parents car! No one thought twice about it. Not now.

My point is, we all make sacrifices as life changes, people change, society changes. Is society changing? Are we getting colder, harsher, meaner, more callous? Are semi-automatic weapons more prevalent and being used more for mass shootings? Are there more mental health issues and are these people not getting the help they need? Is TV, the computer, video games helping young people to be more violent? Is it time for our government to step in and curtail rights and for us to make sacrifices for the greater good? We have done it before. I don’t know…but I am asking myself these questions. And I’m asking others these questions too. I truly hope that before people just say no, I will never  put my gun down, or I need 10 more guns now, they will at least think about some of these questions. The only way we can heal as a society is if we collectively try.

Please, tell me what I need to do so school children don’t get murdered again and I will be happy do it.


How Do We Deal?

With the latest shooting, I don’t know where to begin to deal with my emotions. I was at work sitting at my computer where I usually am when I’m not on the ambulance or working around the station when I saw the news. Like everyone, I was horrified, hit by depths of sadness and overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. Why? That is what we are all asking–on a seemingly daily basis. Why, does this keep happening?

And people of my generation keep saying and feeling that it didn’t seem to happen as much when I was younger. But I’m not here to talk about the why’s. We could argue that until we are blue in the face: too many guns, not enough gun control, too much internet or lack of control on the internet, poor health care system for mentally ill people. Whatever it may be, all I know is that it is happening and innocents are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.

I looked at the photos that were shot on the scene. And just like when I heard the news all I could do was cry. The faces of the people show the pain and senselessness of it all. Then I think five seconds beyond the initial horror to the job I would have to do if I was responding to that scene and I just am not sure I want to be part of the human race any longer. I see that, too, in the faces of the fire fighters and EMT’s/paramedics and police. My fear are the pictures that are conjured in the minds of the family members, the co-workers, the play-mates, the community members and anyone involved. Sadly these images will last a life time. And the holidays forever a reminder.

Do these shooters have any clue when they do these things and the long-range reverberations that are caused?  They are so often killed themselves in the event, so we can’t get in their minds. Do they only think in the moment that they act? Our questions will echo in our heads and hearts just like the bullets that sounded in that school today. But unlike the bullets which only cause death and endings, questions help us to heal and create changes.

So how do we deal? How do we find solace in something so inexplicable? How do we go on and find joy when others suffer so greatly? Some have their religion. Some their families. Some never do. Yet some take a monstrous event like this and create a way to help others out of it. I can only hope these families find some way to find their joy and peace again someday. And that maybe somehow we come to learn the ‘whys’ of these events so we can eliminate them. Until then, I try desperately to hold on to that strand of hope I have in humankind–that somewhere in us kindness remains. Please let me be right!