Gun Culture Reform: Time for a Serious Discussion

By now you have heard about The Shooting at The Place where So Many innocent and defenseless bystanders were slaughtered like lambs.  Of course I’m talking about what is now called the  #CharlestonShooting on social media.  But since this post has been sitting in my drafts folder since The Dark Knight Rises Midnight Massacre in 2012, I can be talking about any of the senseless gun massacres that have occurred within the last decade or the next one around the corner.

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times… at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” – President Obama

A few weeks ago everyone was arguing what the definition of Hero was.  Now they are debating what constitutes Terrorism.  Over the next few days and weeks, this tragic event will be politicized and exploited in a zillion different ways. It will be used to argue various agendas and advance specific narratives.  I’m cynical enough to know that we won’t resist the urge to engage in that pettiness, but not so jaded that I still don’t hope this time will be different somehow.  That something inside of us will say enough with the excuses and the finger pointing and the spin doctoring and everyone will instead demand we fix the problems instead of the dictionary.

I’m not here to give concrete solutions about the gun problem our world faces because I don’t have any.  That is going to take a conversation between much smarter people than I.  I don’t know nearly enough about every aspect but I am constantly reading up.  Addressing this topic right now feels like it would be sticking my head into a hive of angry hornets and why would I want to do that?

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Here are some things We ALL must stop doing before we can have any hope at all of creating a solution.

Stop Stereotyping the Sides
I’ve shot guns on more than a few occasions and I use to have a FOID card.  And I’m pissed that the City of Chicago spent all that money fighting a losing battle in court to try and prevent guns in the city. That said, I’d prefer there be no guns at all and truthfully, less of the other ways for one tribe of humans to annihilate another tribe (bombs, bazookas and drones).

Not everyone who owns a gun is a closed minded racist inbred bigot who feels that the government ought to stay out of its business.  Not everyone who is for reasonable gun reform is a liberal pansy who feels that guns are evil and should only be used by the police and military.  Stop alienating gun aficionados by referring to them as “gun nuts.”

Stop telling Ghost Stories around the camp fire
I believe people who argue that defensive uses never save lives are being just as disingenuous as those who claim that guns don’t increase the death rate. There are tons of stories of a child who finds Daddy’s gun and shoots their little brother.  But there are also anecdotes of people who used a gun to safely defend themselves.  You can find examples of both  ad nauseam.

(photo courtesy of Jenny Addison) This is such a heavy subject I really need some innocent cuteness to get through it

(photo courtesy of Jenny Addison)
This is such a heavy subject I really need some innocent cuteness to get through it

Stop putting all gun related violence into the same bucket
As it turns out, big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.

“In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows. The continuing focus on assault weapons stems from the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M16 rifle. This, in turn, obscures some grim truths about who is really dying from gunshots.”   The Assault Weapon Myth

Its interesting that when it is an inner city neighborhood escalation it is called “cultural propensity toward violence and retribution.” and when it is higher income suburbia, it’s just road rage.

Stop having fun with words where Guns are concerned
Politicians want to get elected and re-elected so they do the automatic weapons ban dance.  They come down hard on banning “assault rifles” or “automatic weapons” but here’s the thing.  What is an assault weapon?  As opposed to a blend in and not offend anyone weapon?  Other than revolvers all guns are automatic in that you can reload them quickly.  The distinction is really between fully automatic weapons (which have been banned for ages) and semi-automatic which essentially means you have to wait a precious two or three seconds before you can fire another round!

True Automatic Rifles are a small subset of the type of guns that are out there.  It’s like fighting the war against second hand smoke by banning pipes but allowing cigars and cigarettes in your non-smoking section.

What I’m trying to say, is that the arguments above and others meaningless ones are just distractions and always seem to stop the conversation from even beginning.   Until we actually have a discussion about what is and isn’t an acceptable role for guns in our society, we  are doomed to continue the Litany of Tragedies:

  • Sandy Hook,
  • the moviegoers of Aurora, Colo.,
  • the children of Newtown,
  • the Charlestown Shooting,
  • Orlando (updated)
  • Las Vegas (updated)
  • [insert next tragedy here]

*********

Follow Mysteries of Life on Twitter (@MysteriesOLife), Facebook or subscribe via email.

Leave a comment