I’m tired of being insane. Are you?

As a writer, I do a lot of reading. It comes with the gig, really. Whether it be research, news, or just a dog-eared paperback, words are addictive. One of my favorite subjects is old school gangland stories. It’s probably the exaggerated romance of it all, but there was something about the depression area gangsters, in their tweed suits and trench coats with their fedora pulled down “just so.” Names like Lucky Luciano, Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly and Bugsy Seigel; glamorous, stylish, defiant; blown into pulp fiction by the press and dime store novels, with James Cagney in “White Heat” screaming from the top of a burning building, “Made it, Ma!  Top of the world!”

We do love our entertainment.

It’s easy to look past the facts, though. These people were cold blooded murderers. Not really something to be romanticized or worshiped in the cult of personality. They were the worst among us.

One story I read put this in a harsh, glaring clarity for me. On Valentine’s Day 1929, seven men were gunned down, execution style, in a Chicago warehouse. We know this as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. That was the point the public, who had previous idolized the crime lords, slowly turned on them.

On Valentine’s Day this year, history repeated itself. Eighty-nine years later, we have another Valentine’s Day massacre. This one in a high school, carried out by a single teen with a troubled past. Seventeen dead. Numerous others wounded, mostly children. It’s an act that would, no doubt, shock even the most calloused of 1930s wise guys. Yet, it has become such a common event, that we don’t act surprised anymore. This one has a different timbre to it, though. People are angry. There’s always been finger pointing and I-told-you-so’s in the past, but this one has a wind of change to it. This one feels like the country has begun to walk away from the gangster alter.

Only, in this case, it’s the gun alter.

As a country, we have an unhealthy relationship with firearms, in general. We live in a time where the political rift in America has put family member against family member, ended friendships, and shoved the two “sides” so far apart, we can no longer see each other’s point. We seem to hate one another. Pick a side, and fight. I don’t think this is the case, though. I think there are a handful of people in the extremes; some want to ban everything lethal, and some want to arm every living thing in their household. The rest of us exist somewhere in the middle.

Those of us in the middle need to step up and start solving some of this. The writing is on the wall on gun reform. The country is starting to turn. It’s our job to keep it from over-correcting itself. Here’s what I mean. In a country where the people with the least understanding of a situation are screaming the loudest for change, why, oh why, don’t the responsible gun owners in this land lead the charge for reform?

Seriously. Removing politics, and the rhetoric that beats that dead horse; our common sense tells us we have a problem with guns. We must fix that. Who better to outline those rules than those who understand the weapons best? Ex-military? Law enforcement? Weapons designers and manufacturers?  Specialist? These are the people who know their way around guns and understand how to make them safer.

Yeah, I know. Second Amendment!  Right to bear arms! Freedoms!

However, I want to make the argument that few among us want to regulate guns. Guns are just a thing; a tool. No, we need to police the mind that holds the gun.

Consider a car. Would you want a person with a half dozen DUIs to be allowed behind the wheel, because they have rights? Of course not. Driving a vehicle is one of the most dangerous things we do, and some people simply do not show the responsibility to handle the duties of a vehicle. Even those who are responsible drivers are categorized. Cars, motorcycles, buses, big rigs, hazardous transport, all these things require different levels of licensing. This doesn’t take the right of driving away, it simply categorizes the competency of the driver. Any driver can obtain these license, but you’re going to work for it.

Why are firearms not regulated the same way? That is the logical question to ask. Do you really want a weapon in the hands of a sociopath with nothing to lose? How about a person with a history of chemical dependency and chronic depression? How about a 20-year-old, who has no training whatsoever, yet owns 35 high powered firearms, and has 5,000 rounds of ammo under his bed? Wouldn’t this raise a question in your mind?

Since 2005, when the ban on assault weapons was lifted, we have had 31 mass shootings. Two of them were the bloodiest mass shootings in our history. Eleven of those were in schools. Eleven school shootings. How many children is that? Is it worth not having to pass a psych test, and an operational safety training course to own that AR-15?

I know. Some of you will tell me that we should arm our teachers. That’s the answer to school shootings. Is it? Simply put, unless you’ve ever been in a live shooter situation, you cannot predict how you will react, much less predict another person. Suppose we do arm our teachers. A shooting incident happens, and that teacher jumps to protect her classroom of children. A ten-year-old opens the door to her room and has a pistol in his hands. How easy would it be for you to shoot a ten-year-old? She’s a teacher of ten-year old’s. How do you think she feels?

Suppose there are five teachers, a janitor, and two administrators who are armed. A live shooter incident happens, and they all jump to action. They step out from their various rooms. Down the hall, they see a person with a gun, but can’t make them out. One shot, and they’ve killed a co-worker. Meanwhile, the police arrive. They know there is at least one, possibly more shooters, but know little else. They enter the building and see two people at the end of a hall, armed. See the problem?

Here’s one more. You have a college classroom. In a room of 35 people, it is cramped, but workable and eight of these people are armed. A shooter enters the building and opens their door. Now, you have nine shooters in a crowded room of panic. Statistics show that a person’s accuracy with a pistol greatly diminishes under duress. Often, practiced shooters will miss a shot as close as 5 feet. The walls of your typical room are little more than metal studs and melamine over sheetrock. What’s the penetrating power of a .45?  That bullet would travel through three, maybe four rooms before it stopped. A person could literally be sitting in a desk three rooms away and die from a missed shot. Now, imagine nine shooters missing shots.

The point is, there is a better way. It’s our job to find it. Yes.

Criminals will still find a way to arm themselves. Yes. A mentally broken person will, in a desperate need for violence, seek out another way. Crazy will always find a way. At the very least, though, we owe it to ourselves to make that source harder to come by. Create a series of checks and balances that gives responsible owners the option to own, but screens and limits anyone of genuine concern.

Don’t let the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 2018 go by without action. Step up. Gun owners, step to the table. Find the answer and implement it. Protect your rights, and the lives of our citizens.

After all, the definition of insanity is to repeat the same action, expecting a different result. I’m tired of being insane. How about you?