As Americans, we live in a reality where gun violence takes nearly 100 lives each and every day. Those of us who are not directly affected seem to have accepted this reality and probably don't even give it a second thought unless we read about or see on TV, the news of another mass shooting. Why do we continue to accept this? Why are we resistant to action to reduce this number? My shot at answering those questions mainly touch on a few points (surely there are plenty more others can cite); 1) we cling to the 2nd Amendment in our Bill of Rights as if it's some sacred decree that MUST be given the broadest interpretation without regard to the present or future 2) we have become so ego driven and narcissistic in our politics that we are unable or unwilling to consider that we may be wrong at the individual level, which would mean something may be wrong on a mass level and 3) guns are woven into our culture in such a way that they are not only used as entertainment or recreation at a practical level, but also in our artistic expressions of television, film, and literature.
I want to touch on each of those points a little and along the way I will more than likely use quite a bit of personal opinion derived by analyzing this from my own world view. And at that, I fully realize I may well be wrong or even characterize an aspect incorrectly. For that, I apologize up front, with the realization that I am not saying my opinions are facts, but they are my musings based on statistics, observation, experience, and yes, even feelings. All I can ask is that this is read with an open mind. That even if you disagree, understand that I'm not attacking you. It's not personal and you could very well write in contrast and I hope you would expect the same open look at your opinions as I am asking for mine. We don't have to agree, but somewhere along the line we all need to try to see this as a social and human problem and not just a political one. I also want to add the caveat that I am not for repealing the 2nd Amendment. I am for sensible gun control. I choose the rights of Americans to live over the right of someone to own and possibly use a weapon that can kill or injure multiple people in a matter of seconds.
In his book "12 Rules For Life", noted research psychologist Jordan Peterson wrote a chapter on being truthful and part of that truth is not just in our relationships to others, but being truthful with ourselves. There is a short segment in that chapter that addresses why we need to be truthful and see things as they are. Not doing that can eventually cause suffering and/or continued suffering and lack of progress. This piece of the chapter stood out to me.
Peterson writes (emphasis is his) "Things fall apart. What worked yesterday will not necessarily work today. We have inherited the great machinery of state and culture from our forefathers, but they are dead, and cannot deal with the changes of the day. The living can. We can open our eyes and modify what we have where necessary and keep the machinery running smoothly. Or we can pretend that everything is alright, fail to make the necessary repairs, and then curse fate when nothing goes our way.
Things fall apart: this is one of the greatest discoveries of humanity. And we speed the natural deterioration of great things through blindness, inaction, and deceit. Without attention, culture degenerates and dies, and evil prevails."
We are allowing the past, a dead past, control our actions today. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States are two of the human race's greatest documents, but things change. We are not the society or culture of the late 1700's. Much has changed in regards to society, culture, and mechanism. To be able to review, debate, and come to a new agreement on our governing documents may be the way to start sorting through some of our greatest problems. We have to adapt to changing times and that means inspecting even our most sacred of cows.
Our politics has seeped into our social and cultural thought process. Hell, it's even wormed its' way into our sports and entertainment at such a pervasive level that it's almost impossible to escape the long tentacles of political ideology and the discourse it breeds when it permeates every aspect of our lives. We have really dug into our positions. We have started to believe that changing your mind or listening to a different opinion is a sign of weakness or capitulation. With that in mind, we don't seem willing to explore what is happening around the world in regards to guns. There are countries that don't put up with mass shootings. There are counties that don't put up with seeing double digit murder numbers in their cities over the course of a weekend. We consider Japan a free society and they have very strict rules and regulations on acquiring and owning guns. Homicide by gun shot is almost non-existent. Check out the link below and learn a little more about what nations have gun control and you can see how effective it can be. All it takes is just to set aside our rigid views a little and at least consider stricter gun laws.
I'm not an advocate of censorship, so it's difficult for me to want video games, music, film, television or any other artistic media to be stifled in what they can't and can show or have as a topic. I do, however, agree with the warning labels that are put on some media for language, violence, sexual content and the like. I'm not sure that art plays a huge role in gun violence, but there are a lot of instances where it certainly does glorify firearms and the damage they do. How much can that impact a young mind? Maybe none. Maybe a little. In a few cases, maybe a lot. How much does it impact an adults mind over time? Everyone is different and we have to be aware that we should stay in touch with what our children have access to and even stay alert to what we are allowing our brains to become saturated with. Learn who our children are and know what they can handle. If you don't, how can you expect society to? You can't. If we are responsible to one another and promote open dialogue, that can't be a bad thing.
I find it difficult to dive into any of these facets very deeply. There is just so much to be said. So much to be shared. So much to hear. So much to learn. I guess, all I ask from anyone reading this is to perhaps have another look at what you believe. Do some research. It's too important an issue to not have all the information you can have on it. This is one of those issues that I don't think any of us want to be on the wrong side of, so putting the politics and ego aside is necessary in trying to figure out what's best. The majority eventually gets what it wants in this country. It takes time. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to start thinking and acting on this now. We have kicked this can far too long. It's time to think, act, and hold conversations like adults that care about the well being of others. Even if your view, pro or anti gun control, isn't changed, you can be honest in any conversation you have about your beliefs and can consider yourself educated on the subject. That's all any fellow citizen can ask, isn't it?
So, in closing, you may ask what my stance is. Fair enough. I would like to see a much more stringent application process. Education is key and the more a person learns about guns in both physical use, statistics, and safety, the less likely the chance they will be involved in a gun event of a negative nature. Hold owners responsible if their guns are used by friends or relatives or even if they are stolen, which means that all weapons kept in a home should be required to be in a safe. Every gun that isn't a single shot rifle or shot gun, in my opinion, should be registered with local law enforcement. The more left leaning side of me is almost to the point of believing that if you want to use a machine gun or any rapid fire gun, that you should have to go to a gun range and use it on that premises. Mental health evaluations should be a piece of the puzzle and while that's not an angle I gave any time to in this blog, I do realize that should be a part of any serious gun debate. I guess I am to the point to where we need to change gun ownership from an undeniable right to a privilege. A privilege that will be fairly easy to earn if you are responsible and go through the process to acquire. That's some of where I am, but I don't know that I'm set in stone on all of it. I tend to sway a little on the right versus privilege thing, simply because I do take our Bill of Rights seriously and even though I THINK it would be wise to explore changing what doesn't work, I have a healthy respect for the fact they have worked to this point pretty well.
As always, I welcome any comments, and admittedly, I'm a little bit all over the place with this particular blog post. The topic demands so much more than I am able to give, so this small piece will have to do for now. My mind is open on most any subject, so if you don't agree, let me hear it.