In the wake of the tragic mass shooting in CT last week, I’ve been deliberately staying off all forms of social media, especially Facebook but also this blog and my others as well. I’ve not been answering or reading many emails, or even following comments on this blog, much less doing my own posts. I’ve been definitely escaping more into Anime and Anime discussions than usual; I’ve been avoiding mainstream news and even avoiding my mainstay Lefty political podcasts that I usually agree with on nearly all other issues.
I tried returning to Facebook after only a few days on hiatus, but I also found so many people saying so many stupid things I found it hard to resist correcting them. Even people whom I agreed with in sentiment, when they made a bad or stupid argument, I would call them on it. Everyone’s nerves were and probably still are a little frayed.
I was also depressed thinking about the horror of the CT shooting, and also remembering the Aurora shooting and before that the assassination attempt on Gabby Giffords in AZ.
Depressed, too, because initial reports stated that the shooter in CT was possibly someone with autism or Asperger’s. It seems there was a good deal more wrong with him than that, but in the early days of the media grasping at straws to offer up explanations and fill valuable air time with speculation…let me tell you, it hasn’t felt good these past few days to be someone with Asperger’s who is also a responsible firearms enthusiast and owner. I felt vilified and despised by proxy. I own some of the same models of firearms as those used in these high profile mass shootings. I’ve been weighing selling at least one of them, a multi-shot semiautomatic rifle in .223 caliber; I own it but have never actually used it–it’s still in mint condition. My emotions have been so mixed. I wonder if I should sell it now and at least try to recoup some of my investment before a ban is possibly implemented and would only get a pittance in any sort of future police buy-back scheme. It’s irrational to feel guilt for owning it, but I still kind of do.
I know I would have to drastically change the way I store my firearms if I had children in the house, or an adult son of my own. If I lived with a mentally unstable individual I would owe it to myself and society to keep all of my firearms under lock and key when not on my person, or just sell off all my firearms and make do without. When I lived alone I stored several revolvers within easy reach of my bed, inside my living room coffee table, and kept a shotgun in a bedside rack in “cruiser ready” status; I’ve scaled all that back, living with my parents.
I do want to affirm that Asperger’s alone does NOT make one mentally unstable. Having Asperger’s or other milder forms of autism should not disqualify one from enjoying one’s full 2nd Amendment rights like any other American citizen. An Aspie is perfectly capable of being a responsible citizen in this area. And coincidentally, no, I do not believe the 2nd Amendment extends all the way to nuclear armaments. Small arms only, I’d say. It’s also been my experience that most autistic people are nonviolent and people with very gentle, kind dispositions, and I’d like to think of myself as being that, too. I’m not a threat to anyone. I don’t want to harm anyone. I’ll try to help if I can.
The cry goes up, why does any American need a multi-shot, military grade semiautomatic weapon? On one level, this is an argument from personal ignorance. Just because the person asking this rhetorical question can’t think of a valid reason anyone would “need” such a firearm doesn’t mean a valid reason can’t be articulated. Their failure of imagination shouldn’t ipso facto result in a curtailment of a civil right per se. I can imagine a scenario of someone living in a hurricane-prone area (and with global climate change, more and more areas are becoming hurricane prone) where government services might be strained past capacity temporarily with a resultant breakdown in civil authority, and in such a scenario it might be advantageous to own a multi-shot weapon beyond a simple standard hunting rifle, for the protection of one’s life and property. Or perhaps one could own such weapons but store them in a communal arsenal away from one’s home, checking them out for target practice but returning them to the arsenal when done, but with a clause permitting them to be checked out indefinitely if a disaster area is officially declared, to be returned to the communal arsenal once the emergency has passed and order restored.
This isn’t a political blog and I don’t want to get into a deep policy discussion. But I also can’t speak in this kind of tentative, nuanced way openly in an open social media like Facebook because too many people will immediately attack me on all sides and that kind of hostility is something that makes most Aspies cringe and shy away from.
Perhaps some form of assault weapons ban is a political inevitability in the current climate; if so and I can see the writing on the wall beforehand, I sell at least some of my collection that might be affected by such a ban going into effect; If I am unable to complete the sales in advance of a ban and forced to comply with the ban I will do so. There are measures that could be taken short of a complete and total ban that some gun owners could live with is all I’m saying, if we think outside the box and are creative.
Besides feeling a bit “under siege” as an adult male with Asperger’s who likes and owns firearms, I’ve also been depressed by well meaning fellow liberals on the gun control side spreading misinformation about Aspies “lacking empathy” or “having trouble with empathy”. It’s hurtful and just not true. (thanks again, “Borat’s brother”) My first reaction to the news out of CT was the same as my reaction to 9/11, and probably the same as yours, NT readers, namely “Holy sh*t, that’s horrific!”. But it doesn’t mean I “lack empathy” to note calmly that policy decisions that potentially do damage to a basic civil right in this country made on the basis of raw emotion alone are potentially not a good idea.
I don’t pretend to have any of the answers, but sputtering on about violent video games and movies seems fruitless…research in this area has been and remains inconclusive. To hear some Republicans talk about need to improve mental health care (while slashing the budgets for same in the name of fiscal austerity and defending for-profit insurance companies that routinely decline to cover such care) is bitterly ironic. Perhaps the AWB of the Clinton era will be revived, but remember, Columbine happened while that ban was still in effect. Reviving it is not a cure-all.
I’ve purposely withdrawn from social media such as Facebook for the time being because there only the extremes on both sides are talking loudest and seemingly attacking anyone not 100% in agreement with them while we as a nation wrestle with these difficult questions. I was relieved to be able to at least get some of my thoughts off my chest this week to a sympathetic friend at work at lunch, with the break room mostly empty thanks to people being on vacation and the like. That was a big help.