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** Originally published 10/29/2015 - Updated 6/14/2016 to reflect new information **

Here we go again!

This is something I've thought a lot about (again) - as I assume many of us have. It seems to me, and I'm sure I can find supporting evidence with very little effort on the Internet, that these 'rampage shooting' events are happening more and more often. When I was a kid you hardly ever heard about them. Today they happen all the time. What the hell changed?

As proof of that statement, consider this - since the attack in Orlando last Saturday, barely over 72 hours ago, there have been 196 shootings in this country resulting in 57 killed and 137 wounded.

Since Saturday!

Do we really value human life so little that we are willing to stand by and let this happen over and over again and not at least try to stop it? Is the 'right' to own a weapon more important than the 'right' for young children, college students, or people like you and me, to have safe places to go? Are both sides so deeply entrenched in their positions that we have no room for compromise?

Look, I get the fact that laws only apply to the law abiding. And a disturbed person, criminal or a possible terrorist determined to get a gun will find a way. But we have common sense regulations on all kinds of activities that have the potential to cause as much harm as firearms in this country. So why can't we put our differences aside and see what we can do about one of the major disfunction's in society today. How many people have to die before we figure this out?

Before I go on I should say that I strongly believe in the second amendment right for Americans to bear arms. In a free country, you better have a damn good reason before you restrict the rights, any rights, of the citizens of that country. Having said that, I also believe we have a real problem in America today with people committing these types of rampage shootings. One that has to be addressed. I don't pretend to have all the answers - but it has become so incredibly obvious to most of us that we have to do something. At the very least we need to discuss our options.

What makes a normal person get so frustrated that the only recourse they think they have is to get a gun (or two, or three) and head out to a public place in order to kill strangers? What type of person self-radicalizes into a terrorist on the Internet and heads out to kill as many people as he/she can? I cannot begin to understand that sort of broken thinking. (And trust me, as an ex-musician, business owner, Southern California resident and someone who was married - or even simply existing as a living breathing human being - I have experienced more than my fair share of personal frustration.)

In all fairness, I'lI even admit to having had thoughts of killing somebody before. But only in the most superficial and un-serious manner. I could never actually imagine acting on those thoughts. So what is it in our society that pushes some people over that line?

Is it all the crap in our food or medicine? Is it because of the pollution in the air and environment? Vaccines? Maybe the fluoride in our water? Chemtrails? Is it the violent video games, movies and TV shows we watch? Have we screwed up the gene pool? Is it because both parents have to work in order to make ends meet and little Bobby doesn't get enough attention? More likely it's the result of some CIA mind control experiment gone terribly wrong. Regardless, the list could go on for days.

I hear people say that these shooters suffer from some form of mental illness and that is where we should focus our efforts. Not in gun control. Yeah. I don't buy it. Sure, that kid from Newtown had a history of mental problems. But if you look at the majority of shooters, he's the exception. Not the norm.

The two from Columbine weren't mental. Weird? Sure. Outsiders? Absolutely. But most people considered them just normal high school kids. That punk who killed those people at the Charleston Church bible class doesn't seem to be mentally impaired, just a racist idiot. The freaky guy from the Aurora, CO theater shooting may look nuts but if he had not committed this crime and went on to graduate with his Ph.D, we would simply have considered him 'eccentric'. In my research, many of these shooters had minor brushes with mental health issues at an earlier period in their lives. As many people do. But most people do not grab a gun and go out and kill strangers. And the majority of these guys were not considered mentally disabled.

I hope you noticed I did not refer to any of these killers by name. I think we should make a real effort not to acknowledge these guys. We should not give the shooters the media attention I think they desire. I believe all of our energy should be given to the victims of these crimes and not to the perpetrators. Do not let them achieve any kind of notoriety or go out in 'a blaze of glory' like they want. We should not remember their names or keep track of 'body counts'. It only encourages others who may be thinking about following down this dark path.

This is only one of the things we must do to try and stop these awful events from continuing. As I said earlier, I don't pretend to have the answers to this problem. But I do have a couple of suggestions on things we might want to consider. I think it's time we put everything on the table. Let's at least try to see if we can make a difference. What do we have to lose?

Here are the ideas I have in hopes of reducing rampage shooting spree's. I encourage anyone and everyone to comment or contribute alternative ideas. That's kind of the point of this rant. So here goes:

1. Hide their names and faces.

With the possible exception of an 'at-large' shooter, I think concealing their identities will remove much of their motivation.

2. Never publish a shooter's propaganda.

This is giving the shooter's exactly what they want and is what I feel is exactly what should be denied to them.

3. Don't report on biography or speculate on motive.

Talking about motive may encourage the perception that these acts can be justified.

4. Decrease media saturation.

As insensitive at this may sound, return these events to local coverage and not turn them into national events. I understand the 24 hour news channels have a lot of airtime to fill, but, this should be about the victims. Not the ratings.

And finally,

5. Let's get serious about gun regulation options.

I know this is not going to be popular and, actually, I don't fucking care. This is not about making friends. It's about making a change. This situation is unacceptable. Unless you are cold blooded and unfeeling, this has to hurt your heart every time it happens. So let's try to do something! Anything less is chickenshit!

As a person who believes strongly in the second amendment, this is not easy to say, but here goes; We have a problem!

I'm not one of those second amendment types who think we need to keep our guns to protect us from 'the gub'ment'. I mean, c'mon! If our government ever decides to suppress the people, we're screwed. Seriously, do you really think that you and your brother, a couple of cousins and maybe a neighbor will really be able to defend your cul-de-sac from the greatest military in human history? Using a couple of dear hunting rifles, a shotgun or two and maybe a .22 pistol? Okay then. Good luck with that. Even if you had a handful of semi-auto (or even full auto) assault weapons available - your dead once you go up against a tank battalion or Seal Team Six. Admit it. You know it's true.

I believe we have the right to bear arms because we live in a free and open society. But that right exists only if we act responsibly - which we are not.

So, I think we need to look at TEMPORARILY (notice the CAPS) restricting access to guns. As an experiment. I don't advocate forcing anyone to turn in the guns they already own. We can't ask honest law abiding citizens to turn in their guns and we can't turn honest citizens into criminals overnight by out-lawing property they bought legally and have committed no crime with. So let's not go there. Although, we should ask gun owners to secure the weapons they do own so they cannot be used in rampage shootings by a member of their household. That's reasonable.

Then we should look around at other countries and see what is working, and what is not, and pass some TEMPORARY (CAPS again) laws, with EXPIRATION (ditto) dates, and see what the results are. If they work? Then we need to have public forums to debate and discuss what our next move should be. If they don't? We let them expire. No harm. No foul.

Regulation is a question of degree. I don't believe anybody is trying to out-law law guns or take them away from law-abiding citizens. But in a political environment in which every issue is reduced to a "pro" and a "con" position, proponents of gun rights often see no distinction between regulation and prohibition – they imagine that any restrictions on gun ownership are some how tantamount to banning them altogether, which is not what I'm suggesting. This is not a zero sum issue.

My personal hope is that we can find a point in time that we can remove any restrictions we put in place and regain our rights. But ONLY once we have matured enough as a society that we are not killing each other in rampages. But hey, like John Lennon, you might say I'm a dreamer.

My parents gave me three things for Christmas when I was just ten years old. That year I got my first Smith and Wesson .22 caliber 6 shot revolver, then they enrolled me in a weapon responsibility and hunters safety course, and finally, they taught me to respect guns and human life. I guess that's why I have a hard time understanding these killers. Because I know that just because you have a weapon... doesn't mean you have to use it.

It's the twenty first century folks, and, in case you forgot, this is America. We have a track record of doing some pretty incredible things over the years. It's well past time we quit talking around this problem and do something about it. We owe it to each other to get this done.

What do you think?



Eric J. Kiser

Eric J. Kiser

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  • good well thought out article...yes we can agree we should try to at least mitigate the problem--at present I cannot see a way to legislate our way out of this violence problem--I think we need to include a course in our schools that would maybe draw out the disturbed pupils and try and determine whether any of them 'raise flags' about their mental stability, including their situation at home--its a start.. of course that does not address the adult people who live next door to us--how can we as a society, look around us and be concerned about the eccentric guy down the street, who seems to have some kind of attitude that he has been wronged and needs to extract some kind of 'justice', as he/she feels isolated, hopeless, etc. maybe he is using drugs and alcohol and disrupting the neighborhood with noisy, rowdy crowds of friends on a regular basis. He has not committed any crimes, but is not a nice person to live next to. I think we should make an effort to know who lives in our area, maybe with block parties, a friendly knock on their door, to say Hi, or if you see them out, make it a point to be friendly and helpful, if they need it. If you think they need more help than you can give, please contact someone, some organization that can investigate further, if necessary-- In other words, we just have to be more concerned about what's happening in our little corner of the world, and be proactive in making it safer. I remember one incident in my state where a person noticed a kid in the neighborhood, going in and out of a storage unit or garage, and behaving a bit strange. As it turned out, the kid was planning to shoot up a school and had guns and other supplies he was going to use to carry it out. A bad situation was avoided, they got him help, and he did do jail time, but with that, counseling and hopefully he can return to society, a more stable person. As you say, we need to try, at least, to find ways to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem....bwise