The heated debate over gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook event has left me nothing short of bewildered. See, I am not a “gun person”. I am not an “anti-gun” person. I have fired guns, I respect guns, and I understand the reasons for guns. I don’t own any, because I don’t see a need to. I don’t hunt, I don’t target shoot, and my personal protection is entrusted to a combined 300 lbs. of dog.
I don’t know much about different types of guns. I don’t clearly understand the definitions of “assault weapons”, or which ammunition is the most destructive. In conversation with friends and acquaintances, this lack of knowledge seems to define me as naïve, ignorant, moronic, or a card carrying Democrat. I’m none of those things, I just have never had an interest in guns.
I do have concern over massacres happening in our schools and malls and movie theaters and workplaces. Like everyone, I hope there is a way to prevent, or at least minimize, these horrendous acts. I realize that nothing is foolproof, and that evil and/or unstable people will always pose a risk to others.
One thing I’ve learned about this gun issue is that each side is passionate about it. I am having a difficult time sorting out facts from hype. I suppose the good news about being the ignorant one on the issue is that I am forced to fact check for myself. So far, my verification efforts have given me only a few solid pieces of data:
- No one is trying to outlaw firearms entirely;
- Most gun enthusiasts are responsible, educated, and cautious people;
- Hitler never outlawed guns, contrary to the many emails I receive warning me about history repeating itself;
- “No guns” does not equal “no violence”; and
- Mentally unstable people don’t have a tattoo on their forehead identifying themselves as such, making it impossible to keep weapons out of their hands.
So, my attempt at understanding the issues has left me with more questions than answers.
Until I thought about Pitbulls. Then it all made sense.
What I lack in firearm knowledge, I make up for in canine knowledge. Therefore, when certain governing bodies began passing bans on pitbull ownership, I had an opinion. I had quite a passionate opinion. My opinion was that people who supported the ban were naïve, ignorant, moronic, or a card carrying PETA member.
The similarities between the issues are pretty intriguing once you stop to think about it.
Innocent people, including small children, were being mauled or killed at a sickeningly increasing rate by dogs identified as pitbulls. Like everyone, I was horrified at each story of a dog attack; but never, not once, did I blame the dogs. I blamed the owners for every single circumstance. Responsible owners kept their dogs safely contained. Responsible owners trained their dogs. Responsible owners socialized their dogs, and would never tolerate an animal showing aggression toward a human. Responsible owners never left small children unattended with a dog.
Forget that there is no solid definition of a “pitbull”, it seemed that any dog with a short muzzle was suddenly a confirmed man-eater. People whom I knew to be intelligent could not recognize the fact that owners of the dogs were the issue, not the dogs themselves. I tried to wrap my head around reasonable people thinking they were safer by abolishing a breed of dog. When I asked people what would happen when reprehensible humans transitioned from “pitbull” owners to Brazilian Mastiff owners or Akita owners, they responded with false and disjointed facts about the superior bite force of a “pitbull”. People who didn’t even know what qualified as a “pitbull” were authoritatively stating that these monsters had the same PSI bite force as a lion. I was incredulous….and livid that fear mongering and stupidity were actually resulting in breed bans being passed in community after community.
At the time, I was the proud owner of a beautiful American Staffordshire Terrier, a noble breed that has played a major role in creating the mixed dogs called “Pitbulls”. Her official name was Lady Harlequin Snortalot, because she was elegant in appearance, intelligent in behavior, intimidating as a protector, and a big bouncy goofball of a dog. We called her Harley. She was a sweet companion, and totally devoted to our 2 year old granddaughter. Yet, people were immediately terrified of her when they would see us walking. Her tail would wag as a child approached, only to have a frantic adult practically dislocate the child’s shoulder pulling them away.
To me, it was so very plain to see that the breed wasn’t at fault, and that by banning the breed nothing would be accomplished. Bad people would begin gravitating to another “badass” dog, mistreat them, misuse them, breed them, and so on and so forth. Instead, why not strictly enforce existing laws about pets running loose? Why not make the owners financially and criminally liable for damage done by their dog? Why not come down hard on animal abuse, which is absolutely in existence before any animal becomes vicious?
In other words, why not use common sense instead of knee jerk mob mentality?
So, I don’t know much about guns, but if I replace “guns” with “pitbulls”, I have a much clearer picture of the situation.
Guns are not the danger. People are the danger. Once again, it’s time for common sense.