People from all over have been asking my thoughts on Kalamazoo. I grew up and have lived much of my life just over an hour away. I have several friends and family members who lived there, and some still do. I make at least one trip a year there to eat at one of my favorite restaurants that closed its location in my hometown over a decade ago. Because of that, people keep asking if this latest mass shooting hits especially close to home. I often surprise them when I say it doesn’t at all.
During my time in the Army, I lived in Colorado Springs and South Carolina. I made friends with people who live in many of the places that have made the news with incidents of mass violence. I spent two years of my life in war zones. I had a cousin who was murdered. A young woman I knew, the step-daughter of a close friend, was murdered just miles from my house. Violence, particularly gun violence, has been hitting home for me long before the shootings in Kalamazoo.
The fact that Kalamazoo doesn’t stir up any special feelings for me says we have a big problem. News of mass shootings barely affects me anymore, and these events represent only a small percentage of gun deaths each year. I hate to see these events used to further political agendas, but this is one more reminder that we have to do better with gun control.
I’m a gun owner. I have absolutely no fear of losing my ability to own or even buy more firearms. I’m a war veteran with extensive training and experience handling firearms. No one is going to try and take my guns away. The problem is that it is far too easy for anyone to buy one.
Laws vary by state, but even the strictest standards are much too lax. Background checks and waiting periods are a start, but they do not take the place of proper training. A daylong class certainly isn’t sufficient, and that is often all that is required not only to own a handgun but also to carry one. This is not enough. People need a thorough understanding of how to handle firearms and to demonstrate that clearly.
As I wrote earlier, I’m not worried about anyone trying to take my guns away. One thing I’m not, though, is “a good guy with a gun”. More bullets flying do not make anyone safer. I realize bad guys will still get ahold of guns. That doesn’t mean we need to continue making it so easy.
The shootings in Kalamazoo do hit home to me. That’s because shootings everywhere hit home to me. I enjoy going to gun ranges myself. I’m tired of hearing about how our streets are being turned into them.