- Posted December 21, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
Looking deeper at the issues
Now I can already hear the torrent of people lining up to criticize that premise. Frankly, I don’t care. If you accept so little responsibility on yourself and others that you are unwilling to admit the fact that a person has to make a choice to take an action (barring mind controlling fungus or a serious mental disability) I pity you. Whatever the influences that may have colored a person’s reality, what I do, I DO. Let’s get that out of the way right now. If I take a rock and toss it through my neighbor’s window, smacking him in the head and causing him harm, we don’t blame it on society and the upbringing I had. We also don’t ban rocks. He sues me and I get in trouble.
I do a lot of work in process improvement and one of the most important lessons you can learn when you are trying to fix what’s broke is that there must be a clear goal in mind. You have to know where you want to get to. In this case, we want our children to be safe. Period. It isn’t about guns, it isn’t about nano-thermite, it isn’t about high capacity magazines, it isn’t about the demise or rise of trans fats. It is about the safety of our most precious and vulnerable neighbors, the kids. There are plenty of options to pursue with that but there are very few that are being put forward. By very few I mean one.
Gun bans. I hear talk of assault weapon bans (although the only real definition of an assault weapon seems to be based on what it looks like rather than the functionality of it), specific types of magazine bans, all out handgun bans, etc. I love this argument. Bans have worked so well on things like drugs, alcohol, and the like. So looking at our strategic goal, what does a ban do to make public places safer?
That is an easy one, really. This happened in what sort of area? I believe it happened in what is known as a “Gun Free School Zone”. Localized ban, in essence. Hmmm….Didn’t work so well, did it? Of course that isn’t what we mean by a ban, is it? We are talking a ban across the board. This is where a dose of that pesky little thing called reality must be dusted off, tuned up and injected into the debate. Now bear with me, I know something like reality is a bit of a pariah in modern political discourse but let’s give it a try. Here it is. The high cap mags, semi auto rifles and handguns are already out there in circulation. Any ban you make will be a de facto localized ban. Can’t buy it at Cabela’s? Bet you can buy it from Joe Sixpack in an alley somewhere. Of course that takes some planning and time but then, look at these events. One of the common threads is a long planning time. Columbine took 13 months to plan. We will likely find that this recent tragedy had a bit of planning time running behind it too. The people intent on doing this are not concerned if the law says don’t do it, they will figure out a way to make it happen regardless. That is the trouble. You can only control that which you can predict. The specific tactics used to orchestrate these things range from box trucks full of homemade explosives to single shot hunting rifles. I don’t have to stretch my mind all that much to cook up a scenario in which I could do just as much damage and never use anything that can’t be found under the average kitchen sink and a single shot .22 rifle. The guns they used ARE NOT THE ISSUE. Those crying out gun control as a solution to this are just using the tragedy to promote the agenda they had before the tragedy ever happened. You will never come to grips with these events, will never move the needle on preventing these kinds of events unless we look to the motives rather than the tactics.
This nut did not do what he did because he felt like some dynamic target shooting with the AR. He wanted to make a statement. Paint a picture of (to?) himself and the culture he was in. He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. …and he did. We will all know his name and be reading platitudes about his monster-ness for years to come. It worked.
If you want to look to the root of the violence you have to look at demographics, socio-economic pressures, social pressures and expectation and a myriad of other things. People like this do not go away because you take a specific weapon away, they just pick a different weapon. …and there are plenty to choose from, conventional and otherwise.
There has been talk of changing the gun culture. We need to change American culture. Nutjob was a Gladiator and we are the cheering crowd. He wanted an outlet for his feelings of insignificance, he wanted to be bigger than his own life, he wanted to make his mark and we set up the stage, packed the stands and sopped up the show. Then we repeated the show. Then we ran a banner at the bottom of the screen repeating what we just repeated. Then we interviewed anyone who had ever been in the same zip code as his dog and pontificated about how horrified we were by the whole thing while running shots of the blood soaked gurney being loaded into the ambulance in the background. Then we interview a six year old and asked her how it felt to be in the room while her schoolmates died. And we, the paying subscribers, the viewing public, could not drag ourselves away. Nothing like a good train wreck to draw a crowd, eh? ..then the pundits blamed the gun culture.
What if we changed who we were? What if we made concerted efforts to promote a society where people were encouraged to find meaning in meaningful things? What if we talked to each other instead of texting? What if we all cut the amount of time we sat in front of a screen and interacted with other humans instead? Look around you. The throngs of people sitting alone in the airport with their head bent over their phone are the problem. The kids that are allowed to sit in the basement all day and night and play video games, be it Call of Duty or Mario Cart are the problem. The people ranting at each other because they will not stop and have a reasonable conversation about issues are the problem. The trouble isn’t that we place too much value on guns, the trouble is we place no value on each other. It doesn’t market well. You want to make someone uncomfortable in an average suburban area? Say hello. Look them in the eye. You will giggle, or weep. We don’t know how to be civil and that isolation has become endemic. We are unfamiliar with intimacy. We are out of touch with the finality of death, the brevity of life.
Sit down with some of these “gun culture” folks that we are hearing berated. Odds are, they will be armed to the teeth while you are talking to them and you will never know it. They are generally polite, they are generally respectful and they are not the problem. The guns they carry are not the problem. People are the problem, and you can’t really ban those! …but we better figure out a way to fix them. We don’t need to restrict liberty to fix this, we need to help each other understand it.