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The answers aren't simple because the problem isn't. 
15th-Dec-2012 03:46 pm
When things happen like what recently happen in Connecticut, I have a difficult time processing it. Not FEELING it. Processing it. I wonder how many others make that distinction. So many knee-jerk reactions to the situation and we tend to hear the loudest. Those extreme reactions being “Regular citizens shouldn’t have guns!” and “Everyone should carry a gun!” Those are reactions in my eyes, not thoughtful responses.

If you take away people’s guns, they get worried. They get scared. They get scared of thugs, intruders, police, military, and/or government. Basically those they perceive will do them harm more readily without access to a firearm. Unfortunately that worry is not what they know, it’s what they believe. If you believe that harm will come to you and that a gun will bring you safety, then you don’t feel safe. Not even with the gun. When one truly feels safe, they don’t feel the drive to protect themselves.

Then there is the idea that everyone should carry a gun. Well, guess what. We just saw the fact that not everyone “should.” We saw that there are individuals that will use guns (or to be fair any weapon) just to harm others. More people being having guns won’t stop that. It’s still going to happen. Also, for as much as someone may argue that a person could have stopped someone from hurting others if they had a gun to stop the criminal/killer…you also have to be willing to admit that more people with guns may have increased the chance of crossfire. To do otherwise is dishonest.

The extremes do not address or fix the issue. In fact, the Second Amendment only impacts what we’re talking about in situations like Connecticut in an indirect fashion in my eyes. Now, some people are going to say, “But if it wasn’t for the Second Amendment then the person wouldn’t have had access to the gun.” Fine. Fair. To which my question is, “Do you wish to talk about civilian access to guns, or individuals that wish to harm each other?”

You see, both concepts connect to make up the larger situation of what happened in Connecticut. However, consideration or examination of one does not automatically (or directly) impact the other. Draw a long horizontal line on a piece of paper. Now draw a short vertical line through that one dividing it into two halves. Now write “Connecticut” over the full horizontal line at the top. Write “Gun Control” under one of the two smaller halves of the line and write “Mental Health” (or something else) under the other side. Can you see it? Two smaller issues making up the larger whole. You may also be realizing you can divide the larger line into even smaller segments adding more pieces that make up the larger issue. This is how to tackle a problem if you really want to work at it.

It’s so natural to attempt to take on the whole thing at once. Plus, since it seems so natural we also believe it’s going to be easier to take the whole thing on at once. However, just because it’s natural it doesn’t mean it’s easier, or that it will make solving the problem easier. In fact, I’d argue that trying to handle all the pieces at once makes it all the more difficult to handle the larger problem. Look at the pieces of the larger problem. Chances are there is one part that you have more emotion about than the other (or others). I firmly believe (and I may be wrong) that the one you have the strongest emotion about will impact how you deal with the other pieces…or even cause you to dismiss the other pieces. I have to tell you that if you dismiss a piece that is the most important piece to someone else…good luck having a conversation. Good luck dealing with a person you tell (or a person that tells you), “You’ve got it wrong. That’s not what this is about.” Someone’s perception/belief/feelings just got invalidated. The conversation is not going to go well past that point.

Why am I saying all of this? Because it helps me process, and maybe by talking about it I may help someone else process something too. Despite the fact that I can come across overly logical or pragmatic at times, I’m a pretty emotional person. So, when something like Connecticut happens…I feel overwhelmed. My empathy (yes I have it) goes into overdrive and gets slammed. I need to sort things out. I have to understand my world. We all do. Humans can’t live in chaos. BUT, if we can’t make sense of the world based on the facts at hand, we will create “facts” to make sense of it. Sometimes these fake facts (which are actually just beliefs) then take over our arguments and perceptions. I work hard for that not to happen. It still does and always will because I’m human. However, in order to stay sane I have to back up and work to look at the pieces of the larger situation. I have to work to see the situation as it is, now how I wish it was. If I can’t do that…I’ll never resolve the problem. If we as a society don’t do the same, then I fear we won’t even come up with a temporary solution, much less a permanent resolution.

If you’re riled up over Connecticut, I would suggest you think about what part of the situation you’re riled up about the most and examine that one piece and figure out your perception of that, then move on to the next piece and find how they connect in your mind. My oldest sister once said to me, “With the way you’re always thinking about things I figured you’d end up in counseling someday. How is it that didn’t end up happening?” My response? “Because I’m always thinking about things.” It’s one thing to think about things and just continuously come up with scenarios of how it could be. It’s another thing to think about things in an effort to understand them. As long as you put more energy towards the second…I’d say you’re probably going to be better off most of the time.
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