Friday, April 20, 2007

Guns, abortion, drugs, ego

I hope all of you all are doing well. I wanted to let you know, in case my last email left you wondering, I am still working on being fully present and aware. It is very easy to get sucked back into the old way of life because it has thirty years of momentum behind it. But I am celebrating the successes I have and making progress.

It has been a very long time since I wrote anything of a political nature, though that is what I spent a great deal of time doing before epilepsy changed my life's course a few years ago. However, after I received a recent invitation from one of the the Asheville Citizen Times editors on the subject of gun control, it struck a chord that needed to be strummed. In case you're wondering, I'm on a list of people who has published a number of editorials and letters and we get invitations to write on various current events.

I thought this issue might provide a nice segway to a cause that is near and dear to me so I sent in an editorial (see below). I don't think they are going to run it, but I wanted to share it with others who might find themselves being sucked into the gun control debate all over again. Let me know what you think either at the blog ( or via email.
Take care,

After the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech, the gun control debate has been forced back into the limelight. Those calling for stricter gun laws have very pure intentions. They want to save lives and they see stricter laws as a means to that end. However, these same individuals also tend to be on the pro choice side of the abortion debate. Not because they see abortion as the preferred method of birth control, but because they know that outlawing abortion will not make abortion go away. If abortion were made illegal in this country, a huge black market of underground clinics would open with no regulatory oversight. The number of do it yourself procedures would also increase dramatically. That may or may not mean fewer abortions (there would be no way to know) but the mortality rate of mothers in need of an abortion would certainly go up.

A similar thing happens when we make guns harder to get. The black market for gun traffickers grows dramatically. Where there is a will there is a way, even if there is a law against it. One can only debate as to whether stricter gun laws would have prevented the Virginia Tech massacre, but I suspect he would have found a gun one way or another (people with criminal intentions tend to be quite determined). In fact, being forced into black market venues opens up whole new worlds of outlawed firearms to choose from.

What we have now is a regulated gun market that requires certain conditions be met before someone can purchase a gun. It doesn’t guarantee that individuals will obtain the gun legally or that they will not commit a crime with a gun they obtain legally. What it does do is prevents us from starting another black market war we can not win, like the current war on drugs. The war on drugs costs our nation tens of billions of dollars a year and results in untold number of deaths on both sides.

In short, if you want to focus your energy on saving lives in the wake of this tragedy, start at the source of the problem: the Ego. Ego is the source of all of the pain and suffering in the world. Our ego is what makes us believe we are right and those who disagree are wrong. It makes us blame others for our unhappiness and try to escape blame for anything that goes wrong. It makes us feel like victims of others. It causes us to project our feelings onto others and take everything projected onto us personally. It also lashes out at others who threaten our way of life or who do something to cause us pain. Thus, it creates a continuous cycle that feeds our ego just the right levels of righteous indignation and/or self pity. The only real difference is that some people have very strong egos, which lend toward physical violence (directed outward or inward), and others have weaker egos, which tend toward psychological attacks (directed outward or inward).

Once you realize the power ego currently has over all of us, you realize that you no longer have to be its victim. You no longer have to find someone to blame when something goes wrong. You see that we are all victims of not knowing any better when we are acting out of ego. You control whether you listen to it or not. This means your happiness is your choice and not someone else’s. Your misery is your fault, no one else’s. Ego transcendence is the way to free yourself and your fellow human beings of their misery.

If any of these words moved you in any way, either made you want to debate me and point out the ways in which I am wrong, or made you want to tell others about it, take the next step. Look up “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and see if there’s anything to all this ego talk. I can guarantee it will set you free.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas.... I love your idea about working with human nature (ego) as a way to ulitmately solve the problems of violence. I, too, in the end ultimately think that's where the real work is to be done.

But... after reading your ideas about gun control I have some other ideas I would like to offer as food for thought. Gun control is near and dear to my heart - probably for different reasons. Mine are because two of my dearest family members are police officers in the city of the Chicago, which, unfornately according to statistics is one of the most violent (if not the most) city in America.

My uncle is on the tact team there (well actually recently retired). The tact team in Chicago go after the badest of the bad crimes... murderer, rapists, and gang assoiciated violence. My uncle is also an avid hunter. Does he believe in gun control... yes... but he is not for gun prohibition and the two are often confused.

Gun control is about background checks, waiting periods and restricted sale of types of weaponary. Why? Because it is not hardened criminals that are prevented from doing crimes by these laws, but the mentally incapicitated or the temporarily enraged/insane that these laws will prevent crimes.

For the hardened criminals (gang memebers and such) there already exists a black market for guns. Because they know that any gun they possess will most likely be involved in the use of a crime. Most don't even bother with the legal purchase of a gun because they want nothing traceable. Also don't assume that you can make the comparison to the black market in drugs. In Chicago there is a drug dealer standing on every corner at night. If you know what to look for they advertise themselves. Small buy deals can be made quickly on the crub side - mostly because drugs are easier to stash and conceal then say a weapon or weapons.

As far as the comparison to the abortion black market. I know two women who got abortions before they were legal. It was no easy feat to find the right person to ask and then arrange the abortion. One woman who told me her story said it took her several weeks of inquiring to find the right connections to a sympathetic doctor and she lived in a major city. Surely... working finding a black market would be the equivalent of a legally imposed wating period.

And what of legally imposed waiting periods?
In cases of domestic violence and the recent shooting, people usually have temporarily snapped from a maybe unstable state to a very unstable one. With the ease of purchase, they buy a gun, do the deed and then regret it later when they are a little more clear. If there were waiting periods perhaps the "crazy" person would cool down and see things differently. Maybe they wouldn't but instead of using a gun to express their they might just explode with another weapon... one that does less damage yet draws attention and possibly intervention to the situation. I can think of a thousand scenarios where a crime of passion, insanity or rage could be helped by make guns less easily available to the average citizen.

What about limiting types of guns?
I don't know that much about guns, but seems like the shooter in VA got off a lot of rounds in a small amount of time. Seems like the amount of deaths could have been lessened had he not been able to fire so many shots. I would question whether the average citizen (hunters and people wanting guns for protection) needs more rapid firing guns for their purposes.

How about carrying an actual license for the ownership of a gun... a license that proves you have been through some kind of training about gunmanship?
Right now you need to show competence and takes classes before you are able to drive a car or enter ANY profession where there is a potential of doing harm to person or property- doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumber... you name it. Because of safety issues we need even to be tested and licensed to drive a car. So why not with a gun? When there are 32 gun deaths per day in the US, I simply don't understand why gun ownership is such a sacred cow.

All of this still begs the question, could have this man in VA still committed this crime. Maybe yes, maybe no. A truly determined someone will always find a way to do what he wants. But I am sure with gun control (not prohibition) that many senseless deaths might be circumvented.

Okay that's my two cents.

Trey said...

Thanks for the feedback. I think you raise some really good points. Hopefully my main point was not missed in all I said. My main point was that you can not use legislation to solve the problem, regardless of whether you are talking about guns, abortion, or drugs. I am all for the background checks and waiting periods where gun sales are concerned, but also against the prohibition of gun ownership. I also realize that the Internet has made everything different when it comes to finding something you want. It has made it a lot easier to find something that's against the law, whether that's an assault rifle or a do it yourself abortion kit or a drug (prescription or otherwise). So, rather than spend time debating what added hoops or regulations we can add to solve the problem, we should admit it's not solvable until we come to grips with the actual cause. Thanks again for the feedback.
Take care,

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that legislation will not fix the problem in its entirety... change has got to come from the inside. And your point was definitely not missed on me. Also hadn't actually even considered the internet in the role of gun trafficing, although still don't think the black market for guns could ever approach the drug market simply because it is not a consumable product demanding repeat buys from addicts and recreational users.... still internet would make things a bit simpler I suppose.

Trey said...

I received an email from someone regarding this issue who responded by saying, "If your argument is that all laws are futile then why have any at all? the fact is that laws do have impact, and that gun regulations in particular do work to improve the situation in other countries and jurisdicitons."

My response was, "I think laws are wonderful things and have helped make our country what it is today. My only point is that more laws are not the solution to problems that, for best results, should be addressed at its source."

Just wanted to clarify so others did not get the same idea.
Take care,

Anonymous said...

I do enjoy the fact that you are wise beyond your years. It took some of us a lot longer to discover the truth that matters. I agree with your views on the guns. I happen to be in favor of the right of responsible persons to have the right to responsibly exercise their constitutional rights to responsibly own guns if they so desire--for responsible purposes. I don't believe taking this right away will make us any more crime-free. I agree that it will just make for a very lucrative market for those determined to supply illegal products. A criminal will find a way. I do believe however in very responsible gun ownership--such as background checks, training in safe and proper use of a firearm, and being held accountable for placing a gun where a child can have access to it. Children in a family with firearms should also be trained to the hazards of a firearm. Not addressing a problem often leads to accidental disaster.

I grew up in a rural family where guns hung within easy reach of everyone, including any child wanting to use the bed or a chair to climb on. I knew from a very young age how the guns could kill something--actually take away a life. I knew that a 22 bullet could go a mile and hit something, so you had to be careful what your background was when you fired a shot. I knew the parts of the gun and to make sure the safety was on the first thing. I knew that you lay a rifle on the ground under a fence before you climb over it. I personally as a young elementary school child killed a groundhog (woodchuck) with a 22 rifle, that was fighting with our dog under a car. Now I might actually pause at a shot like that as an adult. What if I had hit the gas tank!!! I evidently was not only brave enough, but sure enough to do it as a child with no adults available--except my grandmother who was bedridden. I be lieve all of us in the family grew up being responsible in the use of guns. That was completely a different era and culture---but anyway a story for you.

Now just to give you a laugh (maybe) --funny now, not funny then: My Dad always went next door to my grandmother's house to clean his gun/s every night after work--no TV in those days. He sat and talked to her and cleaned his "unloaded guns". I was witness to this for many years. One evening when cleaning one of his 'unloaded guns" the gun went off and missed my invalid grandmother's head by inches. She (who normally walked very slowly and painfully--mostly laid in bed) jumped up out of the chair and ran rapidly away from the huge bang that almost took her out. She was instantly cured, too bad she didn't hold on to the instant cure.... So the best intentioned and best trained people can mess up when it comes to a firearm......

On the other hand, I personally believe that restricting allowing children to play at shooting at one another with toy guns and restricting TV and video gun violence viewing may do more good to reduce aggressive gun use than gun control designed to eliminate the bearing of firearms, for those who deem they need to bear arms.