Wednesday, April 09, 2014

In the Aftermath of the Pittsburgh Mass-Stabbing, Where Do We Draw the Line To Feel Safe?

In Pittsburgh there was a mass-stabbing at a high school today. At least twenty victims, but no deaths. In a small way this is comforting. At least parents in Pittsburgh will not be grieving for the loss of their children tonight. Since anti-gun people jump on mass-shootings immediately, though, I’m wondering if it’s too soon to demand all kitchen knives be regulated. Perhaps Eric Holder’s gun bracelet idea can be modified so that only authorized, federally registered owners can use knives. Also, we need to do something about weaponized No. 2 pencils. Those things are sharp, ya know. I’m kidding, obviously, but I wonder these things when I read about tragic news like this. It is too soon in the news cycle for us to know what meds the stabber was on or not, but mental illness seems to always be part of the story. Should we lock up all the crazy people just to be safe? Should I volunteer?

We Volunteer To Give Up Our Liberties Already

I was in court the other day. As I approached the metal detectors I told the pumpkin shaped security guard that I had forgotten to leave my pocketknife in my car. I pulled out my knife, left my Boredom Survival Kit™ with him, and ran out to the car quickly so that I wouldn’t be late, but not before he gave me dirty, suspicious looks. Despite the fact that he mistook me for a lawyer and that he and his partner were armed with semi-automatic handguns, the mere mention of a pocketknife was cause for alarm. I shook my head and rolled my eyes as I ran. My Wenger Serrated Mountaineer has a four inch blade so it’s no small thing, but it’s hardly something I would take into battle. Also, true criminals wouldn’t admit they had a weapon. Against this guy I’d have to shove it up to my elbow before hitting a vital organ. My pocketknife was no threat, and certainly not as much of a threat as his gun. Even at sporting goods stores I can buy fully automatic tactical knives with extending and retracting blades—all with the push of a button—but I can buy deadlier knives still at Walmart in the kitchen section. Should those be regulated?

I know twenty or so stabbing victims is no laughing matter (despite the selfie in the article), especially to the families involved. I wonder, though, if the quest to be safe is in complete opposition to liberty. I’ve been told by my dad that I shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun because I am clinically depressed. I don’t own a gun (yet), but should one psychotic criminal’s actions punish a large part of the populace just because they have depression in common? Will that make us safer, or will that just make us feel safer? After all, can we truly prevent mass-stabbings without controlling our very thoughts and regulating all our actions? Perhaps, if all schools, malls, and public places have hired security guards with metal detectors. Sure, we can be safer if we submit to being searched everywhere we go, but then we’ll have lost our freedom as we willfully participate in a police state.

The Price of Safety

As I was leaving the courthouse, the security gourd was flirting with a redhead who was emptying her belongings into a tray. With his firearm strapped to his broad side, and the redhead flustered as she hurriedly gathered her belongings together, I marveled that he had no idea how intimidating his cheery banter was. Sure, the judges were safe, but this woman was being treated as a sexual object and a criminal by a massive man with a sidearm. Then she ran up the stairs to make her court appearance without looking back almost as if this was routine for her. Was this the cost we paid to be safe?

It occurred to me later that I had committed some colossal mistakes while at the courthouse. I pulled my pocketknife out of my bag in front of the security guards, then left the bag as I ran out the door. To that portly protector I could have been brandishing a weapon, then left behind a suspicious package filled with explosives. Frankly, he was not suspicious or dutiful enough in that situation. Does this mean that I agree with my dad that people like me should not be allowed second amendment rights because of the potential danger? Where do we draw the line? I’m not mentally ill as people understand it, but I have a mental illness. Should I be listed on a federal registry somewhere with the gun owners, Ginsu knives, No. 2 pencils, and psychotic individuals just so the public can feel safe? Obviously, I don’t feel that way at all, but sometimes I feel like I am the only one who does.