Gun violence: Enough

Enough. It’s time to move beyond the prevailing national conversation about guns and gun violence and get to work on solving an issue that is becoming a nightmare.
For far too long the debate has been boiled down to a presumption on two extremes that there is some kind of zero sum solution–“Arm everyone and the mass shootings will stop”– “Ban all firearms to end the killing.”

Taking away guns from law-abiding citizens raises the disturbing specter of government forces swooping into homes to confiscate weapons—something that should send chills through the hearts of conservatives and liberals alike.

And, of course, critics of the ban guns philosophy are correct in saying that if you take away the guns from the people who obey the law, only those who don’t will be armed.
Just as chilling to me is the rather absurd argument by the NRA and others in the pro-gun crowd that if we just armed everyone, the mass killings that seem to have become so prevalent lately would largely be a thing of the past. It should be noted that in one of the latest shooting episodes, one of the dead victims was an armed citizen trying to do just that.

If we are to believe the mantra that “guns don’t kill people…people kill people,” doesn’t it follow that, if you give more people guns, there will be more killing?

Many, if not most, of the vocal advocates for gun bans seem to come from the more liberal and densely populated East and West coasts of our country. For the vast majority then, police protection is generally minutes away and game hunting a foreign pastime.
In the rural West and Midwest, as well as sparsely populated regions of the two coasts, police protection can be considerably further away, and hunting is part of a lifestyle. City-dwellers presuming to impose their sensibilities on these people to solve a problem that, for the most part occurs only in the more densely populated parts of our country seems patently unfair, not to mention targeting the wrong thing.

Better mental health screening and stronger laws to keep guns out of the hands certainly seems a logical answer to at least one component of the problem but, where does the line get drawn and will more extreme measures to protect society from the mentally ill inadvertently keep some from seeking help? Would people suffering from conditions like depression and schizophrenia be tagged with a scarlet letter that makes them and their condition social pariahs?

And what of the possibility of violent video games having at least some influence on the behavior of young, impressionable boys and girls (mostly boys)? Video game makers—a multi-billion dollar industry, don’t forget—point to studies that absolve them of any responsibility despite what seems to be a growing frequency of shootings by young, disturbed shooters who played the games. Auto makers in the 1950s and cigarette manufacturers in the 1960s and 70s did pretty much the same thing. People with logical minds cannot be so sanguine.

It’s time people on all sides admit a complex, ongoing tragedy such as the one we are witnessing can only be solved by finally acknowledging we all have a stake in it’s solution.


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