This is not the post I wanted to write today.

But the 355th mass shooting in the United States this year happened yesterday.

Mind-boggling. Averaging more than one a day.

And that horrible toll is dwarfed by the total number of those killed and wounded by guns in the United States through gang violence, organized crime, domestic violence, road rage, all manner of crimes using guns, hunting accidents, suicide, and at-home accidents, including a heart-breaking number of incidents of children accidentally killing a sibling or friend when they find a loaded weapon in their home.

We need to stop this level of violence.

There needs to be much stricter licensing of guns so that people who use them for hunting or target shooting or other legitimate purposes and who know how to properly store and secure a firearm continue to have access, but people who are violent, mentally unstable, or engaged in criminal activity do not.

Some kinds of weapons and ammunition should not be available at all. Guns designed to only kill people, like assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bullets that are designed to inflict extra damage on human victims should be off the market for the general public.

I know that some readers are probably saying, but the second amendment of the US Constitution says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. I would ask those people to consider the whole amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The sentence structure isn’t used much in modern English, but it is a translation of the Latin ablative absolute structure, which means that the first clause is the basis for what follows it. At the time it was adopted, the United States did not have a standing army, so the militia was meant to defend the country in case of attack. For this reason, keeping and bearing arms was not to be infringed.

That is not our current situation in this country. We have a large standing military force, as well as National Guard units and local police forces. Gun regulations for the average citizen do not violate the Constitution.

We have restrictions on gun ownership now in place, based on age, criminal record, and other factors. We restrict the types of weapons people may own. No one thinks they have the right to have an anti-aircraft battery in the backyard or a nuclear weapon in the garage, just in case they need it.

It is time – well, past time, but better late than never – for Congress to act to restrict gun violence.

Too many people have already lost their lives. We must not stand by and watch even more killing.

SoCS: both expected and unexpected

This past week’s calendar was filled with lots of expected tasks and commitments, with fall activities back in full swing after summer hiatus. Of course, the unexpected has a way of springing in. Here are some of the unexpected things that cropped up this past week.

  • One evening I got back from an activity and put on my Chromebook to see an instant message from my daughter warning me that her hair was now purple. She wanted me to know before I saw it on Facebook. This led to a Skype call so I could see it better than in the photo – and also so we could visit as she is thousands of miles away. Her hair looks nice purple, but it is not a long-time commitment as it will fade out in six weeks or so. This is helpful as her hair is quite long, so a permanent color would take a very long time to grow out.
  • I had expected to have an appointment for a flu vaccine study that I had agreed to participate in, but it got cancelled so I got to attend an excellent lecture on climate change and its impacts in our state instead. This also gave me material for a poem that I wrote from a prompt at Binghamton Poetry Project this week. Serendipity strikes again!
  • My spouse B had an unexpected day off on Friday. Upper management gave them the day off to reward them for the release of a recent product, so we scooted off to Oneonta to attend the opening of an art exhibit that featured works of a college friend of mine. I had not told her that we would be there – and we almost missed her as we arrived early and she had had quite a drive after work to reach the reception – but it was fun to see the look of surprise on her face when we connected.
  • Unfortunately, this week also afforded the both expected and unexpected news of yet another mass shooting here in the US. The details and timing are unexpected, shocking, and tragic. That it will happen again is sadly expected. And disturbing. And tragic. I can’t understand how the interpretation of the Second Amendment to our Constitution has become so warped that some people think it means that anyone can have a gun anytime, anywhere. These people totally ignore the first clause of the amendment, which talks about a “well-regulated militia” and sets the context for the part that follows about the right to bear arms. At the time, the United States did not have a standing army, so the defense of the country was left to state militias. The men who made up the militias were not professional soldiers, but farmers or tradesmen or whatever, so they had to have guns available in case they were called on to defend their town, state, or country. The amendment didn’t intend that any person could have any weapon anywhere anytime. The mass shootings get attention, which masks the smaller scale tragedies of gun violence that happen every day across the country, and nothing happens to reign in the problems. Definitely, people who hunt or target shoot or have guns for legitimate needs should be able to have them, but we need to get them out of the hands of the mentally disturbed and those intent on killing people, whether strangers or family or neighbors.  [I can’t bring myself to write any more than this about mass shootings, but I will provide this link to a piece that I wrote about a mass shooting in my area and how it relates to other similar-but-different tragedies.]

This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. This week’s prompt was “expect/unexpected.” Please come join us!  Find out how here:

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