Equating Gun Rights Supporters to Murderers is Immoral

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There are numerous talking points I want lambast today: the definitions of assault rifle and semi-automatic, the propaganda statistics flooding the internet, and the knee-jerk response to ban firearms.  However, it seems that gun control is so wholly engulfed by emotion that debate is useless.  Instead, I want to focus on a nonpartisan topic—mutual respect.

A few days ago, CNN hosted a town hall to grant survivors of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting an opportunity to publicly discuss their grievances.  Unfortunately, the egregious rhetoric presented by some of the participants thwarted any semblance of rational discussion.  For example, Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the shooting, stated to Senator Marco Rubio that “it’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel of an AR-15” and when the National Rifle Association (NRA) Spokeswomen Dana Loesch took the stage, another survivor, Emma González, asserted “we will support your two children in the way that you will not.”  Further, the town hall was replete with shouts of hatred like “murderer!” and “burn her!”—none of which were overtly condemned by the host or audience.  To the contrary, Dana Loesch required a security detail to exit the town hall safely due to the fierce response to her remarks.

So, my contention is this: equating supporters of gun rights to murderers is both immoral and nefarious.

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I will not change your mind on gun control policy, I understand that; but, regardless of your feelings, I urge you to remain civil in political discourse.  To equate a member of the NRA—of which, I am a proud member— with the damnable school shooter is heart-breaking.  I understand this is an emotional topic; but, we must approach this discussion with a level-head.  Immediately following a mass shooting, when the trauma and emotions are still palpable, is the wrong time to discuss gun control policy (or any policy).  Emotional people do not create good policy.  If you disagree, consider this: Is it wise to make critical decisions following a heated argument with your spouse?  Or, is it reasonable to discipline your child if you’re still angry or frustrated at their offense?  I hope everyone can honestly answer in the negative.

Regardless of your feelings, it is wrong to engage in destructive hyperbole.  From the myriad studies I’ve read on gun control, my understanding is that a firearm ban in America will increase homicide rates.  Now, this does not insinuate that I believe firearm ban supporters are murderers or evil.  I think they may be misled or emotionally driven—but not evil.  This concept applies universally.  For instance, I think that abortion is murder; however, I don’t think a person who votes pro-choice is the equivalent of a murderer.  That would be a terribly foolish assertion.

Parenthetically, this issue is not limited to the left; I’ve witnessed many incidents of conservatives engaging in this atrocious act.

Gun policy is a hard and complex issue engulfed in partisan rhetoric, propaganda, and bias research.  Because of this ambiguity, I will always afford the benefit of the doubt to those who oppose my ideology.  Though, to be clear, I am not asserting that we are all correct in our positions.  I am a staunch proponent of absolute truth, and thus think there is a correct stance to be held on every issue.  But, we mustn’t degrade our ideological opponents to prop up our own beliefs.

For the sake of brevity, let me posit this final question: what if you’re wrong?  I don’t have all the answers, nor does anyone.  A complete firearm ban has never occurred in America, so the consequences are purely academic.  I may be wrong; a firearm ban may lower homicide rates—and I respect those who arrive at this conclusion.

Please afford others the same respect.

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A Review of Wool by Hugh Howey (Spoilers)

My fondness for science-fiction stories is as deep-seated as my affection for fresh air or delectable food–practically inherent–and despite my cheerful demeanor, I find myself oddly drawn to the macabre subgenre of dystopian thrillers.  After perusing review sites and weighing contenders, I decided to read Wool, a five-part, self-published work by Hugh Howey and the beginning of the Silo trilogy.

The novel takes place within a tremendous subterranean silo surrounded by scorched earth and lethal air.  The survivors live under strict rules, taboos, and restrictions that are seldom contested due to the generational gap from silo’s esoteric genesis.  Couples must receive permission from the state to court and marry, a lottery system determines childbearing, speaking of the outside world is utterly prohibited, and systems of social hierarchy are well in play.  Television screens of the toxic landscape contribute to psychological well-being; though, over time, the camera sensors become hazy due to the elements.

Wool begins through the eyes of Holston, the silo sheriff, climbing up seemingly endless stairs and intimately examining the withering metal of the silo’s stairs and handrails.  Holston ponders how multitudes of people could eventually wear down pure steel, “One molecule at a time, he supposed.” He contemplates the life of the silo and its inhabitants, detailing various character interactions as they occur while tying in his unclear anxieties.  This immediate and detailed engagement of Holston’s rumination induces the reader’s empathy while subtlety developing the environment and characters. 

Though brief, Holston’s contribution to Wool’s plot is substantial.  Struggling with a decision his deceased wife Allison made years earlier, Holston attempts to find a reason for her death through solitary research.  Disheartened, Holston follows suit to violate the silo’s ultimate taboo—he asks to go outside.  This violation results in banishment from the silo to clean the camera sensors and subsequently perish, otherwise referred as a cleaning.  Once outside, he (and every predecessor) cleans the silo’s camera sensors with a patch of wool despite his imminent death.  Speculation imbues the silo’s inhabitants regarding why any man ostracized by his peers would clean the sensors; however, the high of clearly witnessing the outside after years of murky buildup, no matter how treacherous landscape, quickly diminishes guesswork.  Holston’s cleaning and demise spur the beginning of this epic story.

In need of a replacement Sheriff, the silo’s deputy and mayor work in tandem to determine candidates and ultimately choose a headstrong mechanic named Juliette, the story’s protagonist.  Reluctantly, Juliette accepts the offer, leaving the silo’s deputy and mayor to attain formal consent from the head of the IT department–the novel’s sinister antagonist and staunch dissentient of Juliette’s potential appointment.  Following a tense discussion, the silo’s mayor leverages her position and pressures the head of IT to approve Juliette’s appointment.  Driven by indignation, the head of IT covertly retaliates, unintentionally leading to a secretive coup of tyrannical proportions.

Juliette, though unqualified, is keen and highly assertive.  Through her shrewd actions, myriad secrets of the silo’s history and current operations of IT are exposed—threatening the state under the weight of vehement uprisers.  Ever the survivor, Juliette resiliently forges through exile and nearly insurmountable dilemmas with wit and MacGyver-like skill while quelling powerful emotions.  Juliette’s righteous struggle for truth and liberty against a system explicitly designed for the contrary culminates in a satisfying conclusion that leaves the reader craving more.

Wool reads in a fashion that appeals to millennials like myself, shifting seamlessly between scenes 10-15 pages at a time; I enjoy this flavor of writing because it is adaptable to both busy and leisurely situations.  The most charming feature of Wool is Howey’s expert ability to narrate scenes.  Every character interaction is organic and reveals their thought process, mood, and even body language while masterfully blending scene/environmental information.  Howey’s method of narration is reminiscent of a first-person movie scene that uses effects like drowning out sound or blurring vision to perpetuate the character’s experience to the observer; subsequently, the character interaction in Wool reads in a nostalgic manner – swiftly relatable and sincerely enchanting.

If you are seeking a well-written, science-fiction dystopian novel that oozes with premier character interaction and world building, please consider Wool as your next read.

Supporting Injustice through Passivity

“Bullies may be the perpetrators of evil, but it is the evil of passivity of all those who know what is happening and never intervene that perpetuates such abuse.”

– Philip Zimbardo

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Prior to dawn, I started to run on my customary route along the local highway. Shortly thereafter, I noticed what appeared to be a couple playfully roughhousing. Harmless, I thought. However, after moving closer, I quickly recognized that this roughhousing was actually abuse. There was a male (it would be morally unjust to call him a man) grabbing and aggressively shaking a young woman. “Is this actually happening, out in public?” I thought. Immediately, I stopped a few feet from the male and yelled, “Get your hands off her!” Overwhelmingly drunk, he hurled a full beer can at my feet and charged towards me. “What are you lookin’ at!?” he yelled with an aggressive stance. “Just calm down” I said, fully aware that I had no means of defense hidden away in my clothes. With my eyes fixed on him, he yelled “Stop staring at me!” Inches from my face, he screamed again “Stop staring at me!”

Standing my ground (attempting to not provoke further irrational behavior), I provided a few moments for the woman to walk away. Once the male calmed down, he began to walk away in a drunken stagger. With no means of communication to call the police, I proceeded with my run. Consciously avoiding the bright streetlights, I traversed the highway to ensure the woman’s safety. A few moments passed without incident. Suddenly, the male began to kick violently against the door of a local establishment; the woman silently standing by his side. Flabbergasted, I sprinted to a loading bus. With door almost shut, I ran up and yelled,

“I need a phone!”

“I need to call 911 now! There’s a break-in!”

Silence…

“Please, I need a phone to call the police, it’s an emergency.”

Silence…

A driver with a dispatch, and a bus full of passengers, not one offered their phone.

Incredibly frustrated, I bolted to the closest gas station and begged the cashier to let me use the phone. Hesitantly, the employee gave me the phone through a small opening in the glass window.

“What is your emergency?”

I explained the situation.

“Stay right there, an officer will be there shortly.”

“He’s walking away through the intersection, can I follow him?”

“No, it’s too dangerous.”

Nearly thirty minutes later, I called again.

“Where is the police officer?”

“There is one en-route, they will be there soon.”

Once the police officer arrived and I explained the situation, she began to search for the long departed perpetrator. Bewildered and furious, I ran back home to prepare for work.


Later that evening, I ruminated over this incident. Specifically, the fact that not a single man on the bus offered me their cell phone. During my mental processing, I began to reminiscence of  television shows I watched as a child of rugged men fearlessly standing for justice. Similarly, my rumination unveiled memories of heroic messages I heard in school such as: lend a helping hand to a person in need, or do unto others as you would want done to you. Then, almost instantly, the issue frustrating me came to light.

Why is it publicly acceptable, even encouraged, for men to avoid potentially dangerous situations at the cost of injustice?

There is enormous speculation over this question. Practically everyday, new ideas spawn attempting to explain the growing passivity and femininity of men. However, within this blog I will not speculate.

Instead, I challenge you to perform a gut check.

Place yourself in my situation and make an honest assessment. Would you have kept running, or would you have intervened? Remember, be honest. If your answer is wanting, I urge you to focus on your inherent sense of justice and let that prevail over any hindrance you face. Your impediment is not an excuse. While confronting the belligerent drunk I was utterly terrified. However, neither my feelings nor your feelings mean anything when facing injustice. Simply phrased,

“Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

To be clear, I am not condoning stupidity. If the circumstances were such that the perpetrator had a visible firearm, or there were multiple assailants, I would have chosen a different course of action. Regardless, no amount of adversity warrants passivity. Our duty as men is to stand stoically on the side of justice, regardless of the circumstances.