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The War Zone We Created: Jump Before the Water Reaches Your Ankles!

written by Thu Tran, MD,FACOG
on Saturday, 17th June ,2017

Before reading further, please be advised that this blog represents my view, as I am not speaking for all the lady docs writers.  The beauty of our friendship is the recognition that our political views might be very different but regardless, we work with each other toward a common goal to better our community.

Where were you  a few days ago when the Republican congressmen and staff were shot at a baseball game?  Where were you when Sandy Hook shooting happened in Connecticut, ending the lives of 20 innocent children and 6 teachers?  Where were you when 9 innocent people were shot in their church in South Carolina by an angry young man who did not like black people?  Where were you during the Columbine shooting?  During the Virginia Tech shooting?  During the shooting in a Colorado movie theater?  Like me, you probably were working or carrying on tasks in your mundane life.  Like me, you probably stopped your routines and sadly asked yourself “When will we see the next shooting?  It has become just another typical event in an American’s life!”

It has been like watching a rerun of a very bad show, how somebody gets shot, and the community comes out for a vigil, and mountains of flowers and candles can be seen in front of the site of the shooting.  The president and lawmakers then give their eloquent speeches to tell the country how horrible they feel for the victims and their families, and how this kind of crime needs to stop, and how we all should band together as a community.  The liberals would be screaming out for gun control; while the conservatives want even more guns to protect themselves.  Soon, the memory of the shooting event dies down, before another one occurs.  It’s truly a farce of a society where many innocent lives are taken daily by anybody who can march into a gun store and order an assault riffle, the same way a teenager can walk into McDonald’s to order a burger.  Why shed so many tears yet not having the courage to change this situation that other civilized countries do not have to face?  How many more of these events do we want to see before both sides of the political spectrum scream out “Enough is Enough!” 

When I was young, my mother often complained how I and my siblings tended to procrastinate until we had to do something we could have done much earlier ago to save ourselves from rushing at the end.

“You wait for the water to reach your ankles before you jump!” My mother would scorn at me, using an old Vietnamese quotation.

It’s ironic for me to think of this ancient Vietnamese quote when watching the congressmen huddling after the shooting, with one describing how he was choking in tears thinking about his children witnessing a shooting in a baseball game.  Nobody, nobody in a civilized world should have to witness a shooting from a deranged man during a baseball game.  What’s the chance of you getting hit by a baseball during a baseball game as compared to a bullet? The Republican congressmen at the baseball game learned the hard way that in America, a bullet might hit you before a baseball!

What did the libertarian senator Rand Paul think about this tragedy? He thought this incident showed more protection was needed for these lawmakers!

I tried to understand the logic of Rand Paul.  An executive order from President Trump with his party’s support was recently passed to ease background checking and allow even mentally ill people to buy guns.  If these mentally ill men aimed their assault rifles at congressmen like Paul, it means more protection to elite lawmakers like Paul should be provided by tax payers.  However, if these deranged people aimed their rifles at school children, or college students, or people during domestic violence, there’s no extra protection to prevent this violence from happening.  Who will protect your children and mine?

 Another congressman was interviewed after the shooting and suggested how he should have been armed to protect himself and others from getting shot by such deranged man.

Imagine living in a society when you play baseball with assault rifles hanging by your hip! Well, I guess you can be more discreet by having just a smaller handgun, but even then the baseball fashion will have to change, with bigger and wider pockets to hide these guns.  Not only do you have to be careful in avoiding being hit by a baseball, but you have to be careful not to accidentally discharge your gun during the games.

Imagine during a baseball game with numerous people being armed and you suddenly hear a gun shot.  Who shot whom? You instantly pull out your gun while numerous people are pulling out theirs.  Who will shoot first, and how are we trying to be careful enough in such chaotic scenarios not to shoot innocent persons nearby?  I think the smartest guy would be one who lies down somewhere and tries to avoid being shot at, not the guys who try to shoot each other.  It’s a crazy scene in an allegedly peaceful and civilized country.

If your son or daughter has severe depression, would you like to see him or her being armed?  Would it bother you if your depressed neighbor is armed? Would it bother you if someone else’s depressed son or daughter is armed? 

Many congressmen started blaming the political rhetoric for leading to this deranged man shooting innocent congressmen.   If you live next-door to a deranged neighbor who hates your politics, wouldn’t you wish he did not own a gun, or worse, an assault rifle?

Like typical human beings who wait for the water to reach their ankles before they jump, the congressmen in that baseball game were silent observers of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, S. Carolina Church shooting.  They gave their speeches, hugged the victims’ family members.  They did not choke in real tears, because if they did, they would have supported a law which requires stricter background checks.  Sandy Hook’s children were not their children or grandchildren.  They were watching a play of someone else’s life.  Now they are the main actors in a similar play, and they were shocked.  Now they know how tragic it must have felt to lose a child who did not have the chance to grow up and become a congressman, a child who went to school on a normal day.  What would have happened if the depressed college student at Virginia Tech had a knife instead of many guns on that day?  Many young adults at Virginia Tech were taken out of this world at the peak of their youth.  Imagine everyone in those classrooms were carrying a gun to school.  Do you truly feel “safer” if everyone in your class has a gun, including the mentally ill or severely depressed students?

“We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace.” President Trump said shortly after the shooting on the baseball field.

Personally, I do not have the vision of a peaceful society where baseball players have to carry guns and everyone in the audience would be ready to stand up and shoot whenever they hear gun shot somewhere in the baseball stadium.  It’s like watching the Wild Wild West show of the twenty first Century.  Only in America where this vision might come true.

If you do not want to see this " Wild, Wild West” vision in America, then do not wait for the water to reach your ankles before you jump.  Follow the wise advice of Gail Collins in a New York Time article:

“Write a letter. Call your representative.  Hold a meeting.  You can demand laws to keep criminals from buying guns, or laws to keep greedy gun sellers from ignoring background checks, or laws to ban rifles that allow one person to take down several dozen victims without reloading.  Even if your hopes aren’t high, keep fighting.  This is a righteous cause.”

Maybe you should also read a report developed by Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization for gun control, using data from the FBI and media reports of mass shootings that took place between january 2009-December 2016.  It shows how the majority of mass shootings in our country are related to domestic or family violence in which 25% of mass shooting fatalities were  children.  Interestingly, only 10% of incidents took place in "gun-free zones." I highly recommend that you read this report on mass shootings with very important statistics.  I am sure the gun lobbyists and NRA would not want us to see this kind of report because it would make us stop and think about how a "free" society should conduct.  How much individual freedom should we give up to maintain a safe society for all?  It's a philosophical question that divides many people.  Are we the same kind of people the founding fathers would trust to maintain this civil liberty, or the nature of people has changed enough to warrant some "common sense" restrictions on these individual rights?

Guns scare me.  I can’t even imagine shooting prairie dogs on Earth Day just for fun like Eric Trump, the president’s son.  I guess different people have different ways to help them relax, some read books, some run or swim, some do yoga, some meditate, some shoot prairie dogs, even when these tiny animals are on the list of  being concerned for endangerment.  I do not hunt and I am not against hunters,  but I doubt if Eric Trump shot those tiny dogs with assault rifles, the kind his father has not banned from the public.  Maybe even Eric Trump should join us for a movement of banning lethal weapons from the hands of deranged people to help create a peaceful society his father and all of us are wishing for.

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