Taking a pass on a school packing heat

You know he carried a gun to school too.

I knew the day would come. I’d been dreading it ever since I read about it in the newspaper.

Back in 2018, the Cody, Wyoming School District passed a resolution allowing teachers and staff to possess firearms on school property—as a method of deterring potential mass shootings within the school district. I remember saying to myself back then, I’ll never set foot in their buildings if that’s the case.

I’ve never worked or wanted to work in an environment where employees are permitted to carry weapons. If my employer, Northwest College, were to adopt a similar policy as the Cody School District, my resignation would follow close behind the passing of such law, and without doubt many would rejoice. 

Some might say that I’ve already been in situations where someone was carrying a weapon and I didn’t know it. That’s an ugly truth I try not to think about, but if I see someone with a weapon or know they have a weapon—whether concealed or open carry—I clear out. If I’m in a supermarket with a trolly full of groceries and see someone carrying a weapon in the same location, I’m gone—leaving the cart and vacating the premises.

And, yes, I’m aware that I could be shot dead on the gun-free campus of Northwest College by a bad guy (or good guy) carrying a gun. Despite that, sooner or later we all find ourselves in a situations where we’ve reached a boundary that we’re not willing to cross over.

One could say that carrying a gun is a freedom, but isn’t it also a freedom in a person choosing to avoid—what they consider to be—a potentially dangerous situation?

Recently, an email went out to various faculty on campus asking for participation in the Cody Job Fair at the high school. I ignored it, hoping a  sufficient number of faculty would volunteer. However, my supervisor received a call asking if there were any from our area that would be interested in going. As a result, I was approached and ask if I could attend.

Perhaps I could have fabricated some innocuous excuse for not going, but I felt it was important to be honest in declining the offer to go. I’m unsure if my supervisor shared my explanation with anyone higher in the chain of command. It doesn’t really matter. I’m just thankful to have a job that allows me to decline off-campus events where fellow educators are packing heat. 

Thinking back on it now, I suppose I would have attended if one of my superiors ordered me to do so, but if that were the case, drafting a resignation letter probably would have followed—assuming I didn’t get hit by a stray bullet accidentally discharged from the gun of a poorly-trained staffer at the job fair.

There’s not much significance in my stand here. It’s certainly nowhere in the league of a Rosa Parks or Tiananmen Square moment, but it certainly was an opportunity to abide by my principles. And, in knowing that I spoke my conscience gives me a bit more confidence that I will do the same in the future—regardless of the stakes.

More reading on this…

The AR-15: America’s Mass Murder Weapon of Choice

An open letter to Colt Manufacturing…

Dennis Veilleux President & CEO
Colt Manufacturing Company
P.O. Box 1868
Hartford, CT 06144

Like it or not, the AR-15 is pretty much the gun that is associated with mass murders in the United States. Whether this is a formal or informal moniker, I can’t imagine it’s the type of association anyone would want for themselves or their business operations. And certainly if I knew of someone who owned such a weapon, I would undoubtedly steer clear of them under any circumstances given this weapon’s role in so many mass-murders.

After the events of today in Parkland, Florida (a place I’ve never heard of until today) involving the murder of over a dozen innocent victims at the hands of another deranged individual carrying another AR-15, I would like to believe that you and your board members would feel compelled to take some kind of public action that attempts to convince the general public that these events do not sit well with Colt (or any gun manufacturer).

I realize that several other manufacturers make their own versions (clones) of the AR-15 since the expiration of the patent, but it is the Colt name that has the greatest association and would ultimately make the most contribution in the weapon’s reduced role of slaughtered, innocent Americans.

If this has not come up in conversation, I would ask you to consider it. Perhaps even read this. And, I would further challenge you to make a public statement accompanied with swift action—that Colt is undisputedly determined to rid itself of being the gun manufacturer that makes the mass-murder weapon of choice.

It’s a crazy idea, and probably not the best for short-term profits, but what if Colt denounced the AR-15 by ceasing its manufacturing immediately? Yeah, I know, not the smartest business plan, but surely you agree that even the life of one innocent person is more valuable than any decision that is best for business? You do, don’t you?

I dare you to announce to the world that a human life is more valuable than gun sales. I double-dog dare you.

And in making this simple statement and action, you could also apply some of your “Colt leverage” to the other AR-15 clone manufacturers. And, with any luck, suddenly the rightful demonization of this weapon of mass murders would commence. Oh sure, there will be those few who snatch up the remaining ones, but in the long run, the AR-15 will become the “Weapon of the Whack’o”—to the point that few would brag of having one or ever bring one out for show and tell. That might boost gun sales in a different—more responsible way. Imagine if that happened. Imagine Colt transforming from the manufacturer of America’s favorite mass-murder weapon, to the manufacturer of responsible gun ownership.

Ford quit manufacturing the Pinto when they were associated with blowing up from rear-end collisions… surely the civil-minded folk at Colt could do the same with the AR-15—America’s mass-murder weapon of choice.

Curing mental illness vs. gun laws with teeth

“This American carnage stops RIGHT HERE, and stops RIGHT NOW.” —Fuckface von Clownstick. (And the people clapped)

It’s been well over a week, so it would seem now is good time to start talking about gun laws—before another mass shooting shakes the country to its core again. (Never mind the everyday mass shootings that injure and kill only a handful of our fellow citizens.)

As authorities in law, psychology, and other professions sift through the evidence more than a week after the Las Vegas shooting, everyone remains dumbfounded in the case of Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter. Even those closest to him (family, the gambling and gun-selling communities) are clueless and never had a vibe regarding his character of darkness that he kept from everyone so well. He certainly was an anomaly, but that’s how distant we are to addressing mental illness as a solution to mass murders. Think about it: its been over a week after the Las Vegas massacre, and we still have zilch.

Its odd that those who advocate curing mental illness is the solution to preventing mass killings, have no particulars when it comes to how we get there. It’s just this vague, clouded idea—much like asking for directions to a location and your told, “Yeah, I know the place, but I’ve never seen it, but if you go up the road a distance, I’m sure you’ll find it.”

This seems like a good place/time to ask why gun violence is always linked to mental illness? I think our society has a tendency to make the two synonymous. As to say, gun violence is the result of mental illness and mental illness is the result of gun violence. One thing to keep in mind—based on research—the overwhelming majority of people with mental illnesses are no more violent than the overwhelming majority of people in general.

Simply stated, the mental health discussion to a safer community that carries firearms is nothing more than a smokescreen for the gun advocates of our society. It’s simply a diversion with an impossible solution that keeps as many people away from talking about real solutions. This is a quintessential example of “kicking the can” down the road.

Can you imagine what advances in mental health it will take to reach a point where outward-appearing everyday guys can be found-out before they reach their inward critical mass to do the unthinkable (which has materialized far too many times)? It will be nothing short of placing mind-readers in gun stores, the workplace, and the homes of everyone who is suspect.

And how far do we go in lumping the various attributes that lead to violence with mental illness? Most agree that things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and major depression can fall under the mental illness umbrella, but what about those with a history of child abuse, binge drinking, or simply being male—because those things are also linked to violence. Then there are those who have experienced resentment, revenge, social isolation, a tendency to externalize blame, a fascination with violent video games, and a passion for weaponry.

The immediate answer to reducing the number of mass murders in America  isn’t in wrestling and sorting out the far-off mysteries and fuzzy-logic of mental illness, but rather in implementing concrete, extensive and tougher gun laws that mirror the requirements of other dangerous operations such as the various levels of licensing in the operation of a vehicle.

When it comes to mental illness warning signs, it seems fair that anyone who has over, x-number of guns (a number agreed upon by a rationale-minded group) and a bunch of ammunition is a candidate for some kind of mental illness screening. And, short of legitimate gun collectors, those who possess vast arsenals of guns and ammo, might this passion be an extension of their army-playing days in their youth. (If that isn’t a form of mental illness, I don’t know what is.)

Should we make drastic improvements in mental health that allow us to identify a mass-murderer before they act, then we can talk about the elimination of gun laws. For starters, if you want to stop mass murders, require every person who has x-number of guns and ammo, or owns an “assault-style, non-hunting” gun to get regular screening.

Getting a driver’s license, a car license, and insurance is a true inconvenience when it comes to driving. However, it doesn’t prevent us from securing our right to drive, it’s just a precautionary to ensure that we can carry out the task without being a great risk to society. And so, owning a gun should be the same kind of inconvenience for anyone wishing to possess a firearm and/or ammunition. Besides, if you’re a “good-guy-with-a-gun,” you shouldn’t object to a little inconvenience, right?

Despite all of this, I’m reluctant to believe that if the day should come when we can identify people with mental illness quickly, the NRA-gun lobby will likely still resist anything that prevents people from getting their hands on guns.

For the time being, America has long since disqualified itself when it comes to “greatness” in its tolerance for continuous massacres of its innocent citizens. Any great country would have addressed and solved this problem by now. Australia… now there’s a great country. New Zealand… another great country. Japan… yes. Etc.