Like most children growing up, I had to deal with my share of bullying. Most of these were relatively minor instances, but trying for the emotional child I was. At one point in middle school, I even became a bully, for reasons I can’t even comprehend as an adult. Fortunately, it did not last more than a couple of weeks, because my victim finally made the decision to stand up to me.
Beyond my brief and shameful period as a bully, most of my encounters with bullies were the result of witnessing the bullying of others, and reaching my breaking point to speak up for others when they would not speak up for themselves. Sadly, I never spoke up enough to completely end their bullying, all I did was end a few instances. But the experiences did teach me that to truly end bullying, you have to stand up for yourself.
My most memorable instance of being bullied was in high school during my Junior year. A small group of my friends and I spent many of our lunches in the school library playing Dungeons and Dragons and other games. A classmate of ours, whom we’ll call Wesley, apparently decided that was reason enough to pick on us. At first Welsey’s attacks were merely verbal, and we ignored him - after all, at that point in time, if you played D&D openly, derision of your hobby of choice was to be expected.
When Wesley realized his verbal taunting was doing little to bother us, he escalated things a little bit. Honestly, it was so many years ago, I don’t remember the specifics, though some of my friends may.. What I do remember is that as a result of his actions, we asked the librarian if we could move our games to one of the private study rooms, and she agreed we could. For a while, that helped, until the day of our final encounter with Wesley. That final encounter is what I remember the most.
One lunch period, Wesley let himself into our study room. We were right in the middle of something important in our game, and he reached down and picked up a pair of dice I was using.
“Give me back the dice, Wesley,” I said, in what I recall as a calm, but firm voice.
“What are you going to do about it,” was the gist of his reply.
After about a half a dozen repetitions of my request, and his taunting replies, I had had enough, and I unleashed. Things got physical - which was, and still is, pretty rare for me. Wesley found himself shoved up against the wall with my hand on his throat, and a shocked look on his face.
“Give me back the dice, Wesley,” I repeated for the last time, but my voice was now brimmed with venom. Wesley dropped the dice, I let him go and that was the end of it. As far as I can recall, Wesley did not bother me nor my friends for the rest of our time in school.
What I recall the most of this event isn’t the details, but the way I felt when I snapped, and unleashed on Wesley. It was anger, righteous indignation, vengeance and a sense of violation all rolled into one. But with all that, there was also an overriding sense of not giving a fuck what happened to me. Wesley was a bigger guy than me, I had almost no fighting experience, and frankly, in the back of my mind, I just knew I was going to get my ass kicked. But I didn’t care, damnit - I was determined to go down swinging.
Every single one of us has that snapping point, that point in time where we feel the actions we take are far, far more important than consequences we will suffer for them. The most profound example I can think of this point is that of the passengers of United flight 93 on Sept 11th, 2001. They reached a point where they knew they were going to die, but damnit, they weren’t going down without a fight. Their actions ultimately didn’t change their fate, but they probably changed the fates of hundreds, possibly even thousands of other lives.
Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes people feel they are being bullied, and snap, even when hindsight shows they over reacted. A good example of this is the Oklahoma City bombing - McVeigh repeatedly said that his actions were a response to the government’s actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco TX. His actions may have been reprehensible nor justified, but I don’t think any of us can deny that he reached a point where he snapped.
We are at a point in this nation where millions of Americans feel they are being bullied by the government. Specifically, I’m referring to the fight surrounding the 2nd Amendment. This fight cannot go on at it’s current level without someone else snapping.
What I find surprising is the number of people who can’t or won’t factor this into the conversation.
From the research I’ve done, an estimated 30-34% of our population are lawful gun owners. That’s an estimated 70-80 million adults who legally own guns. Let’s go with the lower of that number - 70 Million gun owners. If 99.9% of gun owners do not reach their snapping point with any future gun laws, that still leaves 0.1% who will. That’s 70,000 people at their snapping point. To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the same number of people as live in Sheboygan WI, or Flagstaff AZ.
Now let’s assume that is only people who are at their snapping point, but not yet over it. They have not yet been faced with the incident that causes them to snap. An incident such as law enforcement confronting them about their previously legal guns. If only one percent of those people are actually faced with an incident, and shooting starts, that’s still 700 incidents of shoot outs with law enforcement over something that was previously legal. If only one percent of those incidents result in the death of a law enforcement officer, that’s still 7 officers dead.
Now consider that’s only pushing 0.1% to their snapping point, and only 1% of those being confronted. Things have the potential to be much, much worse. Put the number at their snapping point at 1%, and you get 700,000 people who are potential trouble. That’s between the population of Allentown PA, and Rochester NY. If 1% of those are faced with an incident, and again, only 1% of those incidents result in the death of a law enforcement officer, that’s 70 officers dead.
If the percentage of people pushed to their snapping point is higher - and I have no doubt it could be as high as 6-7% - then you’re looking at hundreds of potential law enforcement deaths over enforcement of gun laws.
These quick calculations leave out a lot of other factors as well. I’m only pointing out the lives of law enforcement officers, the ones who are on the perceived “good” side - agents of government. What about deaths of those who fight back when confronted? Ruby Ridge had a death toll of three - two from the Weaver family, and one law enforcement officer. Waco had a death toll of 84 - 80 Branch Davidians and 4 law enforcement officers.
Furthermore, every death caused by government confrontation over gun laws is a potential catalyst for further violence. The ATF’s illegal actions at Ruby Ridge, and perceived illegal actions at Waco were a catalyst for the 168 deaths in the Oklahoma City bombing.
In a nutshell, being too aggressive with anti-gun laws in this country has the potential to get ugly fast. Real fast. Especially when you consider how fast information (and misinformation) about these type of incidents can spread. An overzealous ATF officer in Minneapolis could very well touch off an incident that leads to the deaths of FBI agents in Los Angeles and beyond.
For an agenda that says “if we can save even one life with these laws, it’s worth it” I find it incredulous that they don’t consider the potential loss of life these laws could cause, especially when pushed by a government that has done much to erode our trust. Because it’s not just gun laws we’re talking about, but laws and policies that violate many other Amendments, too.
The death of a child is a tragic thing. I agree that we should take prudent steps to protect their lives. But we’re also at a tipping point where another incident like Ruby Ridge could set off a firestorm and anti-government backlash that we might not be able to contain.By ignoring that potential, we're not being prudent.
Ramming through more anti-gun laws only increases the likelihood of things spiraling out of control unexpectedly. The 26 lives lost at Newtown, and the 12 lives lost at Aurora’s Century theater will mean nothing if the emotional reactions to them give us ill-conceived feel good laws that lead to even more deaths.
Once again, I find myself standing up for those who are being bullied. In other words, it’s time for the government to stop bullying law abiding citizens, because a significant number of them appear to be at, or near their snapping point.