Yet more random deaths. Yet more tragic loss.
While the United States has seen a steady decline in overall criminal activity, including homicide, over the past 20 years, something rarely reported on by the right-wing media; one specific crime, mass killings by young, troubled minds, has gone up. During the same period, since a mass killing in Australia prompted the Australians to ban handguns, mass shootings have plummeted to zero.
Why is it we cannot have a literate, meaningful discussion on this subject?
On one side, certain people advocate banning nearly all firearms, an extreme reaction to the above problem.
On the other side, people who oppose doing ANYTHING to curb the violence, make comments like, “Anyone with a knife could have committed the same crimes as those committed in California, so it’s not that guns are the problem,” they claim instead that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
What is missed on the first side is that people do indeed have a right to defend themselves, and firearms do make that easier.
What is missed on the second side isn’t that people who advocate for stronger gun laws are stupid, they understand someone has to pull the trigger. They also understand that while someone CAN kill with a knife, it’s a helluva lot easier with a gun. Were it not, cops would carry swords.
Instead of having a real conversation about our obsession with guns and gun violence, we mask our debate in claims that one side loves butchery (or at least is ambivalent), and the other claims it’s only “the bad guys” who are the problem, purposely (seemingly) failing to grasp that it is THEIR friends, THEIR confidants who also take out their guns and kill their wives, sons, husbands, friends, and so on, either on purpose, or accidentally. They refuse to even discuss the 95% failure rate firearms have in saving versus taking innocent life (the rate of gun deaths due to homicide, suicide and accident by LAWFUL gun owners is 20 times that of lawful self-defense).
So, instead, we fail to do anything to check the backgrounds of the criminally insane when they walk into a gun show and buy a gun. We fail to do anything to require those who own firearms to turn them over if a restraining order is issued against them. We fail to ban magazine sizes which only serve to enable mass shootings and truly really no other meaningful purpose. We fail to act, we continue to glorify gun violence instead. We hear false claims about how “if only” a person with a firearm had been present at these crimes, when in fact, oft times, there have been, and those people were taken by surprise and wer victims themselves.
More importantly, we fail to talk about abuse, familial, incestuous, physical, bullying, etc... which so often is at the core of the “disturbed” people’s psyches who commit these horrific bouts of slaughter. We don’t want to confront how our hyper-aggressive, hyper-violent society is creating monster after monster. We don’t want to admit our complicity, well, until it strikes one of us directly.
I pray it isn’t you, but for some, it already has been. Your brother, you daughter, your father, took his/her own life WITH A GUN. Your mother, your sister, you friend, accidentally died when shot with a weapon that supposedly wasn’t loaded and was owned by a “lawful gun owner.”
There’s a BS line that goes a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a lesser well-known but more accurate line goes like this…A liberal is conservative who experienced true injustice. The parents of those children killed at Sandy Hook cannot fathom how people oppose closing the background check loophole. The father of one of the recent shooting victims cannot fathom why the NRA promotes buying guns as a solution to violence. He doesn’t understand the NRA HAS to promote buying more guns because they (its leaders) are the puppets of the gun manufacturers who want ANYTHING to happen other than slowing the tidal wave of gun sales. If you are a fan of the NRA, if you oppose acting to limit magazines, or acting to restrict weapons which can harness that kind of magazine – ask yourself honestly, why? The McDonald and Heller decisions settled decisively that you could not possibly lose your right to carry or own, but they also said a reasonable limit on the type of weapon available to you is Constitutional. Changing the culture of violence is good for the US, not bad, as Australia and Europe prove so conclusively. So ask yourself, why do you oppose that idea of changing the culture of violence? Why do you think everyone carrying guns is good? It didn’t work in 1870, so much so that many towns banned them and, ta da, succeeded in curbing violence. So why are you so opposed to reasonable discussion on reasonable limits. Why must you contort the argument to something it’s not about, contorting it from a discussion about the fact that guns make taking life easier, far easier – to a fake argument about whether a gun can pull its own trigger?
Perhaps it’s because you’re afraid of the actual discussion which might lead the nation to conclude reasonable limits are reasonable, and a good idea, necessary, and fair. Perhaps it’s because you’ve been told it will lead to you losing your guns (not bloody likely), perhaps it’s because you’re not asking who is telling you this. But then again, perhaps it’s because you don’t care – well, at least until it’s your brother, father, daughter, sister, or son. Then you will, but then it will be too late for you.
Gunslinger/sheriff Wyatt Earp famously banned carrying firearms openly in Dodge City, KS. He enforced that law, and gun violence dropped markedly. A civil society is not that which enables gun barbarism and vigilantism, it is one which seeks solutions outside of angry, violent knee-jerk responses. It seeks solutions other than killing teenage children in a shooting gallery and then ensuring you've executed them "good and proper" because they broke into your house, as opposed to calling the police. Instead of killing without pause or remorse, instead of saying "HELL YEAH!" when someone dies, perhaps it's time we learn to cry about how bad we've left the rails of civility and restraint behind. Killing someone in your own defense is not wrong, it is not immoral, but it sure as hell ought to be your last resort. We've created a society which thinks pulling out a gun is a first response and solution, not the last.