If it isn’t working, try something else.

It has taken me a week to write this post. You see, the world has enough tragedy in it to last a lifetime. But then we humans have to go and make it worse. Man-made problems can be devastating, and it just breaks my heart that things such as school shootings have become almost commonplace. So yeah, it took me a while to sort out what I wanted to say when all I wanted to do was cry and rage and point fingers.

As a photographer, I know a good shot when I see one. You see it staring you down and it’s like… Oh, hey there beautiful picture… I’ve been waiting for you. Other times it’s just not so easy. You can take the photos until the cows come home (so to speak) and that magic moment just isn’t there. At this point, many of the photographers I know try one simple trick and usually it changes the entire scene and the heretofore unseen photograph becomes glaringly obvious. Want to know what they do?

They change their angle.

This could mean they sit on the ground, they climb on a ladder… Or many other things. The point is that they come at the photograph from a perspective other than their own. And guess what… Therein lie genius solutions.

So here’s the thing… There has been yet another school shooting. These events are becoming commonplace in America which is just plain sad. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It seems to me that, when it comes to gun control, America has been polarized into two different camps, each offering solutions that they view to be the best. I have been hearing the same arguments since Columbine in 1999. Guess what?

It’s. Not. Working.

Looking at the issue of gun control from our own perspective is not providing a solution. All it is doing is pitting humans against each other because no one wants to admit they may not be right in the assertion of their perceived solution.

So here is my idea. Let’s strip away our preconceived ideas about gun control, let’s step out of our egocentric comfort zone and come at this from a radically different angle (remember my photography analogy) and look at the issue through a different lens and a different point of view. How about this novel concept… We stop thinking about ourselves and what we think and consider more about the victims and their point of view.

When you were growing up, what made you feel safe? For me, to some extent it was my parents. However as I got older, I realized that a) your parents can’t… And shouldn’t… Be protecting you (and in turn shielding you from) the world. And b) after a certain age, no one listens to their parents rote instruction anyways. But the parents SHOULD and MUST be educating their kids on how to survive this world and to thrive in it.

Only once I was truly educated, and by truly educated I mean not only taught the mechanics and skills, but the consequence of error, did I feel safe in my own right. So my first assertion is this. Educate everyone. Show them how guns work so they aren’t afraid but at the same time instill in them the knowledge and ramifications of what happens when guns are used to harm. Because, let’s face it, they are intended to be deadly weapons.

Think of it this way… would we want our soldiers out there protecting us to simply be handed a gun and thrown into the middle of combat? NO. We put them through boot camp, we test and teach… then we put our safety in their hands. So, lets say we create a “boot camp” for gun owners? Another example… we don’t let teenagers drive without having to pass a drivers education course right? So this is my hope I suppose… teach and test people on guns and how they work and the real-life consequences of a bullet heading in the wrong direction.

I come from a family of hunters. I’ve been eating venison most of my life (even when they had to lie to me and say it was steak so I wouldn’t freak out about eating Bambi) and have a healthy respect for hunting when it’s done for a purpose. I mean really, it’s a key reason the human race survived this far. So one thing I am NOT saying is to outlaw guns.

Another thing to consider is this: look how we control alcohol no sales to people who are minors or appear intoxicated. So could we institute something similar for gun ownership? Like you must pass a knowledge test (because even I’ll admit that when my youngest cousin was not yet old enough to drive and I was old enough to drink, he was more knowledgeable about both the mechanics and the safety of guns) rather than attaining a certain age and a psychological test (instead of an intoxication test although I would maintain that a gun should never be sold to someone intoxicated as well). I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s got to be better than just fighting all the time.

And my last question… maybe the important question is this: Could something as simple as asking what the intentions of people buying guns and what their plans are for said guns possibly help? Say I’m an upset/depressed teenager who is so angry and sad that I fee the only solution is to take out my classmates. Wouldn’t someone asking stop me for a minute and maybe, possibly, make me reconsider. Or at the very least it my response might give pause to the seller if it seems off.

I don’t think this is the only solution to the problem either. Or at least not the entire solution. There is a lot to be said for having a resource officer or the like stationed at schools. Someone who properly knows not only how to operate a gun, but what to look for. Aren’t all police officers taught in their training how to spot something that seems not right immediately? So maybe taking a little of both sides of the argument and finding a third way.

Either way, I think we can all agree that the current status quo is NOT working. It is time to have those discussions people. Beyond time.

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