Guns As Religion

I have to say that I have struggled with the idea of covering the gun debate.

On the one hand, it’s a political morass, with no easy or obvious solution.

On the other hand, I am a physician and feel some moral obligation to address this bitter debate.

First, a disclaimer.

I don’t own any guns, but have a number of family members and friends who do.

They use them for hunting and skeet shooting. I have fired a gun a few times. It’s ok, not exciting.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I have somewhat of a “lazy eye”, so my depth perception sucks. So, I’ll never be a sharp shooter.

So, why is the gun issue so incredibly difficult to address?

Why are all gun related discussions so vehement?

I have thought about this long and hard.

And I think I may have come up with an insight.

Those of you who have followed my blog (and I sincerely want to thank both of you) know that I have often written about struggles I had with patients who wished to use alternative treatments.

I learned very early on that confronting them head on and condemning or disparaging their choice would accomplish nothing.

They would either leave my practice or stay, but be very angry with me.

I ultimately can to the realization that for these individuals, the use of alternative treatments approached nearly religious convictions.

So, my attacking their choice was as productive as attacking one’s belief in Jesus or Allah.

What does this have to do with guns?

Much of the controversy surrounding the gun issue revolves around the Second Amendment. The famous, “Right to bear arms.”

Because of this, many individual’s feel it is an inalienable right, and to deny them this is to deny the Constitution.

The other side, point out that just because they can bear arms, doesn’t mean they should possess highly destructive weapons like the AR-15.

And so the argument rages back and forth with neither side making any meaningful headway.

I believe that in someways, both sides are wrong, at least in their approach.

From the gun owners perspective, evil doers will always find a way to create mayhem.

If powerful semiautomatic weapons aren’t readily available, they’ll use a pressure cooker bomb, or a truck or a knife.

Certainly achieving a deadly goal like the Vegas shooter will be more challenging, but they’ll make do with a few less deaths.

From the other side, including to a degree myself, I cannot comprehend why one would wish to own a horribly destructive weapon like the AR-15.

It’s not really for hunting or target practice. It’s really just a display of power with no practical use.

How do we resolve this conflict?

Just saying, “Hey, why don’t you guys both give in a little.” will not work. Anymore than telling the Jews and Arabs the same thing will bring peace to the Middle East.

(I mean, it would, but that’s just not a realistic expectation.)

So, what should we do?

Well, here’s my solution.

I believe one of the greatest impediments to honest discussions about this issue stems from the NRA.

Now, before you 5 million members go nuts, hear me out.

As an organization promoting guns safety and their uses in hunting and sports, I think they’re great.

However, where I find fault is in their purchasing of legislators, who then pass laws to make the purchase of a firearm easier than buying pseudoephedrine.

However, I am not in favor of eliminating this organization.

My solution is actually much simpler.

When election time rolls around, simply find out how much a candidate is bankrolled by the NRA.

If it’s say, more than $10,000, just don’t vote for them.

What this will do is force some (by no means all) legislators to divest themselves of this organization, and thus be free of their grips.

Maybe then, simpler requirements like registering your gun, undergoing a background check and raising the age to 21 can be passsed.

To the gun owners, let me just say, I’m not stupid.

Yes, criminals will still have guns.

Mass murderers will still find ways to kill.

Crazy people will do crazy things.

But, you’ll still have your Glock or Beretta to defend yourself.

To the other side, I say we have to accept that guns are an intrinsic part of our culture, whether we like it or not.

Just like we have to accept drug use, gambling and other societal activities that some don’t like.

That’s how a democracy works.

But, I think we can come together with a rational approach to this issue that both sides, for the most part, can accept.

I sincerely hope we do.

I’m tired of hearing about children dying.

And if someone says this problem cannot be solved-STAY SKEPTICAL!


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