Why do you need a gun? Edited.

In the wake of the shootings of television reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Andy Ward by some asshole, there has been a renewed vigor to the gun control safety debate.

I have been taking advantage of this by asking people on Facebook (an excellent venue for thoughtful discussion, btw) why they need a gun. I can imagine why they want a gun, but I am curious as to why they feel they need one.

Some people may legitimately fear for their safety, because of where they live, or because of something that may have happened to a friend or neighbor, or because of someone they know. But there are always other steps that can be taken to help, besides (or instead of) getting a gun.

I hope those people know this, and can see a way out of their troubles. Getting a gun would be a last resort to me. After all, it can only do one thing.

I don’t know if I’ll get any insight, if I do I’ll report back.


It’s been a year. I got busy. I did get responses, and the most thoughtful ones came down to one thing: fear. Guns, for these people, are a security blanket against an unpredictable world, whether statistically sound or not. Since I posted this, we’ve also had additional mass shootings. But there is one fact that I ate across in the last year that really surprised me, and crystallized my concerns about guns.

In 2016 so far, there have been 328 mass shootings, with 426 people killed and another 1,238 wounded. Mass shootings are often blamed on guns, but also on mental health care, particular circumstances, the shooters themselves, etc. (Source: massshootingtracker.org)

In 2016 so far, there have been 9,908 gun deaths in America, with another 20,646 injured. These aren’t just mass shootings, these are murders, suicides, accidents, etc. These are incidents caused by a myriad of conditions, from depression to stupidity to abuse, to yes, mental health. (Source: gunviolencearchive.org)

But it is clear to me, from this, that guns are the problem.

I’m unfriending you, Internet

My darling wife alerted me to a post on Facebook, by a Friend of a Friend (so I can’t comment there, since I’m not Friends with the Friend… ugh), a post that began with, “This just in: ADHD also diagnosed as ‘childhood'” and linked to a blog post at the Psychology Today website about how the French (of all people) don’t have any ADHD cases, because they (are enlightened?) diagnose the root causes: malnutrition, poor parenting, dumbness, etc.

The comments on this post (to which I cannot comment) cover the range, but are mostly following the lead of the original poster, funny quips presented as insight, opinion masquerading as fact, and assumptions presented as research.

I have a child with ADHD (inattentive, not hyperactive). He is bright, funny, creative and distracted. He is on medication, and it has done wonders for him. At one point before he was diagnosed, my brilliant little boy came to us, after watching a commercial on TV, and told us that he thought he needed to go to the Sylvan Learning Center. The look on his face, that defeated, but pathetically hopeful look, stomped on my heart.

If you know us, you know we do nothing without research. Our child was tested, diagnosed, seen by doctors, second opinioned, and finally medicated. He has gone from being a remedial concern to excelling in every aspect of his life, because he can pay attention to the things that are important to him.

But the ADHD diagnosis issue is just the trigger that got me going this morning. I now know a lot about ADHD, about the process of diagnosing, about how it affects my kid, about the ins and outs of medicating my child, about the “cocktail” needed to help him concentrate then help him sleep. I see how he feels when he lets himself down because his brain doesn’t work, and how he feels when he tops a test or a contest or finishes a project or a book. I know what ADHD looks like, to me. This Friend of a Friend does not know what it looks like to me, but that did not prevent him from lumping everyone in together, damn the shades of grey, in the service of his clever commentary.

Here’s what I wanted to add to this guy’s Facebook post, but couldn’t:

“Hi. This post is so insensitive, thoughtless, and knee-jerk that I am inclined to answer in kind. Without knowing you, your children, how you parent, or what you are like, I’d like to take this opportunity to be an asshole to a perfect stranger, because online, there are no repercussions. Ready? Here goes. ‘I bet, since you’re so into responsible parenting, you beat the fuck out of your children if they misbehave. You cretin.’ What’s that? I’m sorry, did I overstep? Did I say something without knowing shit about what I was saying? Why, yes, I did. You’re welcome.”

There’s been some discussion online about comments on articles, how they rarely add to a discussion, being either trolled or facetious or downright harmful. I agree, and would like to add to that the suggestion that all of Facebook (et al.) is one big comment thread full of meaningless pandering and hateful, irresponsible, selfish commentary.

This is what is wrong with Internet commenting.

There is no space for compassion, for empathy, for understanding.

I know I am also guilty here of oversimplifying the issue. The Internet is a tool, after all. There are places set aside for thoughtful discussion and grateful healing. There are nice people online, even on Facebook, and I like being connected to them in a way I never could in Real Life. I appreciate and love them.

But the rest of the Internet can seriously fuck off. I don’t have time for you anymore.