A few weeks ago, my husband noticed one of his employees had a bandage on his arm after an absence. The guy was shot during a game of basketball in his neighborhood and when Niko asked him why he thought he was a target of violence, he said, "oh, some kid was trying to prove himself".
There's a lot of talk of gang violence in Chicago and while that may very well be true, I think a lot of shootings just boil down to petty arguments. So-and-so was in my yard, that guy looked at me wrong etc. I worked in an ER as part of an assignment in school and a guy came in with a bullet wound in his leg. It was 9:00 in the morning on a Tuesday - what could possibly be going down at that hour? Oh, a fight over a girl. It turns out so much violence is just petty crap being settled by people whose problem-solving skills involve pulling a trigger.
Gun control is one of those things that the media makes two cartoonish teams out of us. Supposedly you're either on the 2nd amendment side launching bombs about "libtards", or you're in the mocking pro camp like, 'MERIKUH. It's kind of stupid the way the gun conversation has been framed as two unreasonable sides: the one who doesn't recognize that today's weapons can't be included in the category of muskets that constitution originally intended, ("men" being created equal has since come to mean women and black people, whom you might recall were so equal they were only counted as 3/5th of a person and didn't vote at all) - and the other side, the lala dreamers who think we can just put up a sign that says "no guns" and that gets rid of them somehow. It's a false dichotomy to frame the gun debate as Yosimite Sam waving his flag vs. some soft-footed liberal in hipster glasses.
The gun control debate may have started out that way, but we're ready to talk rationally now. We all want change. Besides, some of the people who cling to their guns the tightest aren't the Bible-thumping, southern cartoons they are portrayed to be. They are the most urban people, in fact - people who live their entire lives confined to the Chicago neighborhood where they were born.
When I first started writing about guns, I was in the "lala" camp. It's an emotional reaction. While I still firmly believe that a device whose only intention is to kill has no place in civilized society, just making them illegal doesn't solve the big, fat problem we've gotten ourselves into. Our country is infested with guns.
The urban gun problem can be compared to the cold war. The "good guys" have to have guns to protect themselves from the "bad guys" who already have them aplenty. Truthfully, everyone thinks they're one of the good guys. A great human experiment is to ask anyone you meet today if they're a "giver" and you're going to hear a lot of yeses. Everyone with a gun thinks they're a good person, even the criminals, who are just taking what's theirs from a "bad" world. So let's leave good and bad out of it and tell the truth: a lot of people are killing and harming each other over petty grievances.
Shooting someone has become a short cut to problem solving. While I am pleased with the mayor's recent crack down on gun sales, we need to address the ones already out there. Like with any change we want to see in the world, we have to start with hearts and minds. We need an educational campaign.
Let's teach better problem-solving in schools. Let's put up signs in parks and streets with reminders: STOP. BREATHE. THINK. If you are angry, reach for your words. Don't end a life over a moment. You are always looking at someone's child. Think about tomorrow. Don't shoot.
Mass shootings get a lot of attention in the media, but we forget the biggest number of lives claimed by gun violence never blip the news. They are young, urban people killing each other over nothing. As much as I'd like to see legislation regulate guns, the first step to ending gun violence is to win minds.
Let's teach peace and maybe we'll have peace. Gun control starts with self-control.
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