I haven’t written much lately, let alone written anything remotely controversial, so I decided that today is the day to wade into the gun debate. I don’t want to keep you guessing so I’ll say it up front: I’m pro-guns. I’m also not blind to the fact that we have a problem with the misuse of guns in the United States. So here are some thoughts.
Sound Bites Aren’t Productive
My twitter account, Facebook feed and email inbox are filled with short snippets that pass for sound bites. Things like: “No one needs an assault rifle.” Perhaps not, but it can be argued that no one needs a Lamborghini or a 20,000 square foot home, yet they aren’t illegal. “Imagine a nation that loved guns so much it sacrificed its children for them.” This one is countered by “Imagine a nation that loved cars so much it sacrifices 50,000 people a year for them.” “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And then there are the statistics. “The U.S. has the third highest homicide rate in the world. But if you eliminate Detroit, Chicago, Washington D.C. and New Orleans, all cities with strict gun control laws, the U.S drops to fourth from the bottom.” As if correlation was causation. No, sound bites or text snippets don’t produce results. They just express biases.
It’s a Cultural Problem
We have a culture that thrives on violence. Movies, music, video games, TV shows all glamorize violence. Can you imagine a Star Wars or super heroes movie without violence? Is there a video game that isn’t based on blowing something or someone up? No I don’t have data to back this up but it’s intuitive to me that young men (the shooters are almost all young men) raised on a steady diet of watching carnage and creating virtual carnage will eventually want to gravitate to the real thing. Blaming guns is like shooting the messenger (pun intended). A shooting is just the message delivered by the gun that society has a problem. Effecting a social change is hard. It’s so much easier to blame the inanimate object so we can feel good about ourselves. Until the next message is delivered.
I don’t have a solution to fixing the cultural problem. That’s way above my pay grade. But that’s the problem we have to address, not who buys guns or what guns they buy or how long they have to wait.