Today, I was alerted to the heartbreaking news of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., by my Facebook feed. Horrifyingly, I was not greeted by expressions of condolences for the families affected by the shooting of 20 schoolchildren. Instead, I read posts about how gun control is now imperative.
You could put any firearm, however deadly or powerful, in front of me on my desk. I can guarantee, barring some odd astrophysical phenomenon, that until I pull the trigger, absolutely nothing will happen. If you believe that guns kill people, then for that matter, the container of Tic-Tacs on my desk is also a killer.
Yes, the Newtown tragedy was horrific. I hope it will never happen again. But it will happen again, regardless of whether gun ownership is made universally illegal or whether all guns are confiscated.
I support firearm ownership. Why? I'm a young woman. To me, gun control means that it is better for police to find my raped, strangled body than to let me explain why I had shot my assailant. I'm not an uneducated hillbilly. I have a college degree. I understand what my rights are. I understand history.
Gun ownership has not drastically increased in the last 50 years. Yet ask any old-timer, and they will all tell you that these sorts of incidents just did not happen back then. Why is that? Are guns more readily available? Definitely not - laws have cracked down on gun sales, ownership and usage, making it more and more difficult to carry.
The problem is that Americans have lost all sort of accountability. Nobody ever paid attention to the fact that something was off with the Newton shooter. Or Jared Loughner. Or James Holmes. If we are going to start blaming guns for the murders of innocent people, then we're going to have to tack on other offenders, too. Drunk drivers kill nearly 11,000 people a year, their weapon of choice being motor vehicles. Should we take the right to drive away from law-abiding citizens?
To me, the most effective method of gun control is taking ownership - not of guns, but of your attitude. Wake up. Pay attention. That guy at work that just went through a divorce may not be handling things as well as he claims. Invest your time in other people.
The increase in gun violence is not caused by an increase in ownership but by society's growing tendency toward apathy. It is easier to tell kids to play a violent video game than to take them to church. It is easier to ignore.
Just because you say you feel compassion for the victims in Newtown on Facebook, it does not mean that you have done your part. Those victims are not the ones you need to worry about. The real victims are right in front of you, and so are the results: Aurora. Columbine. Newtown. Pay attention.
Get involved. Really involved. Gun control isn't going to do anything. There will always be a weapon. More are invented every day. Teach your kids about how to be good people, and by teaching, actually show them. The only way to prevent violence is with education and compassion. Get involved by thinking, talking, working with others. Look out for others. Stop. Think. Pay attention.
Rebekah White lives in Westport.