Take back the guns

Muriel Strand is a Sacramento cook, mechanical engineer, pagan, massage therapist and activist who was taught early to think through her feelings

I attended part of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association’s Alcohol and Drug Summit on January 28. I left early because my main concern about this issue wasn’t really on the agenda.

We heard some really great information about what’s available to help those who abuse mind- and emotion-altering recreational substances. Treating such problems as health issues rather than criminal issues is an approach that works for progressives, like many Oak Park residents, as well as conservative organizations, such as the Taxpayers League.

And it works for me, too. I think it’s great when people can stop abusing anything. And I hope the Proposition 36 funds, which are supporting a lot of what is now working, are conserved in the upcoming state budget. It is also very important to notice the economic aspects, because many people who abuse drugs are trying to kill pain, and economic pain is often severe for folks who don’t have homes or sustainable jobs.

But, truthfully, the most probable harm I’m likely to experience due to drug and alcohol abuse is getting shot by an illegal drug dealer. As long as we keep criminalizing recreational drugs instead of sensibly regulating them, as long as we keep denying the reality of economics, we are going to be bothered by a market that is often really too free for comfort.

So, I wanted to talk about gun control on Saturday, but since that really wasn’t on the agenda, the people with the information weren’t there.

Law enforcement’s job includes enforcing gun laws, but the officer I spoke to at the summit was not really able to reassure me when he told me about harsher sentences for crimes involving guns. By the time criminals are sentenced, it’s too late for the victim.

I don’t think the “cult of security” is effective protection from violence born of socially sanctioned economic and legal pain.

I would rather have an ounce of prevention than a pound of cure. After the blank looks I got from several people when I raised the question of gun control, I realized that I didn’t really know any more than anyone else there about the background of that particular concern.

So, let’s have another summit on gun control. Getting the guns under control will make me feel a lot safer.