Deep Dark Fear
I love guns.
There are few things in this world more excellent than the sensation of firing large caliber weapons, watching targets rip apart, feeling that wonderful kick in your wrists, or against your shoulder. The sound of a shotgun is poetry. The pop, pop, pop of a semi automatic rifle gets my blood boiling. It is powerful, beautiful, frightening.
That said, I do not own a single weapon. This is a choice I make for me and my family, It is not a condemnation on those who own safes and lock boxes full of guns or allegiance with those who think weapons in the home make you less safe or invite violence. I just choose to not own a gun.
I firmly agree with the right to own guns-and the right to not. That’s one of the wonderful things about being American, I get to choose.
The debate is once again heating up. Should the country make laws to control what weapons or how many weapons can be owned by private citizens? Mass shootings by mentally ill individuals make such conversations necessary and important, but extreme voices on either end of the debate seem to be in control of the conversation, clouding issues and covering up rational solutions in heavily emotional, reactionary rhetoric.
The answer is not to arm everyone anymore than it is to disarm them, but neither option addresses the reasons behind violence in America.
We are a rebellious people going back to the first white Europeans who immigrated west. Dissatisfied with the conditions in our parent nations, our ancestors packed up their lives and moved as far away as the world would allow. Once there, discontent drove many of them farther and farther until there was no where else to go.
It was a bloody journey.
While that sort of argument makes sense to me, it doesn’t excuse the events of the past few decades, where individuals seem to break with reality and take weapons to schools and malls. My discontent has never even begun to drive me to that sort of action.
An overwhelming lack of personal responsibility, blaming other people or outside elements for our actions, our situation certainly has some impact.
A growing disconnect from one another makes it easier to dehumanize people, making the decision to harm them as easy as deciding to shoot a clay or paper target.
Political parties and lobby groups point to a violent Hollywood or gaming culture, an eroding moral sensibility, excessive bullying, all of which may be contributing factors.
Yet, these same political structures ignore their own historical role. For nearly three centuries America solved (and still solves) the majority of its problems through gun violence. Someone pisses off the powers that be, they go blow the hell out of them. A cliched ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality (any parent knows how well that lesson sticks), which makes calls for ending the violence ring very false.
There isn’t one magical ‘why’ to understanding what makes Americans more violent. All of these issues (and many others) come into play, but what choices or actions can America take to make mass shootings a thing of the past?
We all understand that reducing access to guns does not keep them out of hands of criminals, but many of us fear a culture where everyone straps a pistol to their hip just as much.
I think the solutions will be individual, rather than collective. People determining to be more compassionate, serve each other, love more, will inspire change. Kindness can eliminate fear, which is what drives most of this conversation (fear of each other, the unknown, things beyond our control), a paralyzing fear that needs to be confronted before any real change can begin.