My name is Michael ‘Tinker’ Pearce. I am a writer and a professional knife and sword maker, and I own guns. I am not a wide-eyed, drooling, conspiracy-spewing gun-nut. I own guns for the same reason that people own a pleasure boat or an off-road vehicle. Because they are fun. I like to shoot holes in paper targets with them. I like to admire them because they are well-crafted and cleverly engineered. I also know that, while it is unlikely, it is possible that I or my wife may need to defend our own lives or the life of an innocent person with one of our firearms. I do strongly believe in the right of individuals to own effective firearms for the purpose of self-defense.
But if I thought there was any chance that it would prevent another mass shooting I would give up my guns up in a heartbeat.
The sad fact of the matter is that it wouldn’t. Even a ban on high-capacity weapons or high capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons will have no effect whatsoever. Confiscation won’t do the trick, because an average person could train themselves to do just as much damage with two or three revolvers or other low capacity firearms.
Congress is about to waste a lot of time, energy and money to have a big fight about banning ‘assault weapons’ and I have no doubt that in the end they will do so. I also know that it will do absolutely no good. Whatever they come up with won’t even be as useful as slapping a band-aid on a compound fracture. It will just be something that politicians can cynically point to and say, “See, I tried! Vote for me!”
So I am not going to go on about the 2nd Amendment. I’m not going to argue why I need my guns or make idiotic statements about how you can, ‘take my guns when you pry them from my cold-dead fingers.’ I’m not going to make apples to orange comparisons between gun violence and more common child-killers like swimming pools and automobiles. You’ve heard the arguments, platitudes, etc. and you don’t need to hear them again from me. Instead I am going to plead with you to do something real. Something that makes sense and might actually make a difference. I am going to plead with you to do your job and genuinely represent the best interests of your constituents.
It’s easy to say of course, but what are the solutions? Frankly it’s not rocket-science, it’s just expensive, unpopular, and it means less profits for people that already have more money than they can reasonably spend in their lifetimes.
Between 1945 and 1982 there were two mass shootings. This was during a period when gun ownership was more widespread among the population and surplus weapons, some of them high-capacity, were cheaper than dirt. Until 1968 anyone willing to swear that they were 18 years old could get one delivered to them in the mail for just a few dollars. If guns were the problem there would have been more mass shootings in the period between 1945 and 1982, not less.
From 1982 to the present there have been sixty-one mass shootings. So what changed?
In the 1970s states began shutting down their mental-health care systems. In the 1980s health care in general shifted from non-profit to for profit, and to no ones surprise the price has increased to the point that it is now unaffordable for many Americans. Last but not least the cost of living has increased to the point where most households must have both parents working to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.
Combine lack of affordable mental health care and lack of full-time parenting and there is no way the results will be good.
The problem is that we have, through corruption, negligence and selfishness created a society that produces ‘mad-dog’ killers. Ask anyone in high-level security and they will tell you it is virtually impossible to stop a mad-dog killer. The ONLY solution is to rebuild society so that it stops producing them. It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to take time. But it’s going to take a hell of a lot more time and be more difficult if you waste time on ‘solutions’ that don’t work.
There are many other factors but there are a lot of things that a politician simply cannot do. For example you can’t legislate away a culture that says you must have everything under the sun to be happy or to be considered a success. But there are things that you can do.
There must be affordable access to mental health care. Than means affordable to every single person in the entire country, regardless of their income level. Yes, in some cases that is going to mean free. It’s going to be expensive. Deal with it, because our children are dying.
Give people incentive to exercise better security and control of the firearms that they already posses. Classify it as gross negligence when a firearm is stolen from an unsecured location and subsequently used in a crime. Incentivize people to invest in the means to secure their lethal weapons. It’s going to be unpopular. Deal with it, our children are dying.
Work for living-wage jobs and to make it profitable to do business in America. Not just for the hyper-rich, and not just for specialized products. Offer grants and incentives for people making better ways to produce everyday items so that we don’t have to import them from other places. Penalize businesses that send jobs overseas, but also offer incentives to come up with new and better ways for them to be profitable without doing so. Penalize businesses that overpay CEOs while cutting benefits to their employees. Build an economy that will allow most Americans to choose a single-income lifestyle so that full-time parenting is an option for the average household. Then offer incentives for them to do so.
Last of all have the moral courage to do your job, and do what is right instead of what will get you campaign contributions or votes. Attack problems at their roots instead of just trying to slap on a bandage that you know will not help.
It’s expensive and something is going to have to give. So be it. If this means we run at a deficit so be it. Our children are dying when they don’t need to. You will not make it stop by banning objects. We can only stop it by identifying and attacking the root causes.
“Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty.” This is from the preamble to the Constitution that you swore to uphold in your oath of office. This is an issue that touches all of those things, and it alone should be your criteria for any action regarding this issue, not if it’s popular, or inexpensive, or easy or gets you votes.
Do this and you will at least get one vote: mine. I bet in the end it will get you, and all of us, a lot more than that.
Michael ‘Tinker’ Pearce’
Well, they didn’t ban ‘assault weapons.’ But they didn’t address any of the concerns in this letter, either. Things are not improving.