As a gun owner, but not always in tune with some defenders of gun rights, after another theater shooting I braced myself for the obvious. And the obvious happened.
Same old, same old talking points.
We will never shoot our way, or psychiatric care, our way out of these things. Obviously regulating as much as some want is like closing the barn door centuries after the barn door was not only left open, but torn off the hinges and burned. But all limitations and regulations aren’t necessarily ill-advised, and if you can’t admit that, as I shall soon show, you’re being intellectually dishonest. Unless you’re ready to push for prisoners having loaded submachine guns, eight-year-olds having hidden, loaded, 357s in their classrooms.
I expect little will change in our gun debates, but I do think we can change our attitudes, that’s for damn sure.
To start: guns are neither the solution, nor the main problem. It’s our attitudes, our anger, our tendency to blame those we disagree with and to think guns are a “handy” solution to interpersonal problems, or groups we’re inclined to blame for all we perceive as wrong. Sometimes, I swear, it’s like society has become one huge elementary class where the “adults:” the teachers, like talk show hosts and pols, inspire such actions instead of behaving well. The big difference being this is an elementary class with guns and sometimes far less self control than an actual 5th grade class.
Every time one of these events happens both sides accuse the other of politicizing the event, which would be slapstick funny if not for all the blood and gore. “Politicizing” is what people have every right do when they see an immediate danger to society.
It’s also called “free speech.” I’ve noticed those who accuse rarely have problem with politicizing things when it’s convenient. Most of the time we have a right to: but somehow they always find time to say, “This is not the time…”
Considering free speech the only answer to this would be some polite version of “Screw you.” They have no more right to decide “the right time” than we do.
A few observations…
In many of these cases more guns will solve nothing, indeed far too often it will most likely make matters worse: especially in crowded, dark, theaters. If those familiar with guns are honest they will admit a good portion of the public rarely considers what they do before acting, are terrible shots, over react… all you have to do is go to youtube, or consider the many “watch the stupid people” video clip-based TV shows, to see how they behave. Having lived in an area where all kinds of folks came from out of town for hunting seasons, unfortunately, far too many left in boxes or body bags.
The problem with The Darwin Awards is for every idiot who “wins” there seems to be even more stepping up to the stupid plate.
But asking for any absolute absence of guns is like demanding less rain. Ever notice after one of these horrific events, and the rhetoric starts, gun purchases explode?
And that’s the source of our problem. The fact over the top has become the preferred method of spouting opinions and reacting to what we don’t like, or agree with. We already shout each other down constantly in what used to be civilized disagreements.
But the biggest, most important, fact is all good people have the same interest: less of this. But for that to happen we have to start with the obvious: our attitudes towards guns and each other have to change. Yes, that will take time. But otherwise: expect it all to get worse.
Guns are tools.
Any tool can be misused.
Guns must be respected.
People have a right to participate even if they disagree with you.
While seemingly not connected, shouting each other down, refusing to see the other point of view, vilifying, blaming whole groups, passing Stand Your Ground-inspired laws: all of this only combines to create an environment where killing is seen as the one and only solution.
How blind we are to anything else is presented all too well by going to a church, attending services, discussing religion then standing up and declaring you have no other choice but to start shooting because “you people are the problem.”
In that I hear the echoes of talk show hosts and pols and other politically driven pundits. They are like cheerleaders: intentional, or not
If our anger, and guns, continue to be viewed as the only, or the first go to, expect more theater shootings.
And if the only answer to you is banning guns, confiscation or severe restrictions: good luck with any of that, and again, expect more theater shootings.
The next edition of Inspection is about the election circus, but the one after that features the same topic, only from a different angle: a bounce off a conversation I had on Facebook with an old neighbor, and friend, named Dean.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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