We no longer know better

After Sandy Hook, there were calls to arm teachers (or at least put armed security guards in every school). A number of my friends were part of that chorus. And one of my friends was a teacher at that school.

Even in a smaller city like Colorado Springs, lock downs at schools are so frequent they barely rate being tweeted. Add in so many weapons in so many hands in so many places and, eventually, the Peter Principle will kick in and whatever is possible will happen.

A careless overworked teacher will set a gun down for just a moment… and a young child who wants to play cops and robbers (not realizing it’s a real weapon)… or an older child who’s been bullied uses it on classmates… or a kid with abusive parents or being bullied will take it…

A “bad guy”, a bullied student will pull a gun in a classroom and a teacher will try to stop them… miss and hit a student.

A gun accidentally discharges… because the safety wasn’t set, failed, got knocked off as the gun floated around the inside of a bag.

Children or teachers end up dead because of a weapon that was meant to protect.

Recently, we’ve had “Open Carry” groups taking weapons, some military-style assault rifles, into public restaurants to protect their right to carry by exercising it.

The marriage in the next booth blows up because the returning vet, stay-at-home spouse, the whoever finds out just how badly they’ve been done by their spouse.. and grabs the weapon leaning… right there.

No wonder that, after Open Carry Texas got national attention for doing it at a Chipotle in Texas, the NRA called it both weird and scary.

I’ve got relatives in small town California. They believe in their second amendment rights but they also get responsibility. Accidents happen. The guns arn’t carried in the open. They’re locked up, they’re concealed, they’re in a gun rack in the pickup. I doubt any of them would go into a Target and leave a gun on a shelf. They know better.

The catch is “we” don’t seem to know better.

An employee in a Target spotted, what they thought, was a toy gun in the toy aisle. Except it wasn’t. It was a fully loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun. And it was sitting on a shelf in the toy aisle. Employees are Target don’t exactly out-number customers. The odds were better that a customer would have find it first. Luckily the odds were beat. What if the odds played out the other way? Maybe it would have been found by a child playing cops and robbers with a friend. Maybe we’d be reading about a dead boy and the sister who killed him with a “toy gun”.

Taking away everyone’s guns isn’t a solution. But, look me in the eye and tell me that accidents don’t happen. Look me in the eye and tell me that everyone with a weapon in this country is sane, responsible and trained. Look me in the eye and tell me that innocent children arn’t dieing because of guns. Look me in the eye and tell me that one of my kids won’t loose a friends to guns. Look me in the eye and tell me my kids won’t be shot. Look me in the eye and tell me it’s not possible that it might be my kid who pulls the trigger.

Have we forgotten that every right carries responsibility? Common sense tells me a gun is something you handle with care and respect. The second amendment makes it explicit: “well-regulated”. What happened in Target and Chipotle is not “well-regulated”. Have we forgotten that rights inevitably conflict and have to be balanced? Does the right to carry a gun outrank the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Is “weird” more important than the happiness of eating burritos with my daughter without worrying about her getting accidentally shot. Can she have the happiness of eating that burrito without worrying that she may loose her Dad before dinner is over?

Standing on principle is a great thing until you bury yourself so deep you won’t deal with reality. We didn’t listen when the arc went through our kids from Columbine through Sandy Hook. Will we listen now that it runs through Starbucks, Chipotle, Target and almost everyone in America?