Let me say at the outset: this column will, to some degree, oversimplify a larger, more complex issue. It is my hope that it challenges you to have difficult discussions with friends, loved ones, and co-workers so long as it doesn’t get you in trouble or fired. I’m not paying your bills if you get canned for arguing with “Debra from Accounts Receivable” about the definition of “Woke” or why North Korea is an existential threat. That’s between y’all. I just want you thinking about the topics in a way that makes you go out read more about them, become informed and form your own opinions.
WE’LL TALK ABOUT GUNS TOMORROW
The ownership and regulation of firearms is a national security issue. It has been for a while now, but we haven’t been willing to admit it. How could we? We Americans love our guns. We just can’t bring ourselves to believe that perhaps, just maybe, we’ve bought too much into this gun culture. Not after Virginia Tech, not after Sandy Hook, not after Aurora, not after San Bernardino, and not after Orlando. Men, women, and children of all ages died in those attacks. We can’t see our addiction even after reading the statistic everyone and your Great Aunt Cecelia keeps sharing all over social media: since 1968, we’ve lost more lives from gun violence via privately owned weapons than from battlefield deaths in all US wars combined. Yes, the number of service members lost from our collective wars as a nation is less than US domestic gun deaths from just 1968 to the present. That’s insane. But here we are. We had a few heartfelt days of mourning. We praised police and first responders. And then we went on with our day. Because that’s what we do. Nothing. A whole lot of nothing. That is our gun culture.
But why is that? If you put aside political differences, people from both sides of the aisle agree: they don’t want innocent people dead. That’s not shocking; we’re human beings. Of course, we want to be safe and ensure our relatives are safe as well. No one wants to live in fear. So why do we place the right to own a weapon above the collective safety of our communities? That’s not a loaded statement, it’s an honest question.
When the American Forefathers envisioned regulation of a well-armed militia it’s hard to believe they could have predicted today’s weaponry. They knew what was coming as well as we know what to expect in 2217. I’m not suggesting it’s easy for us to turn away from tragedy, but we continue to do it. We say “now is not the time.” Why isn’t it? If a person is hurt, we address it immediately. If traffic on a street is too fast, we put up stop signs or speed bumps or reduce the speed limit (because cars are dangerous and we heavily regulate their sales and use, but owning a car isn’t a constitutional right, so that’s…different?) We don’t wait to talk about the street, we fix it. Why have our collective voices been so quiet on this issue?
Instead of implementing common sense approaches to keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people, we tell ourselves that “it wouldn’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals, anyway.” Where is the American exceptionalism in that? Since when did we establish laws based on whether or not they would 100 percent reduce criminal activity? Laws against assault don’t stop people from assaulting innocent victims. Businesses are robbed every day, even though we have laws against the threat and illegal possession of property. So why shouldn’t we have stricter rules and regulations that govern something as deadly and prevalent as guns?
At the end of the day, we need action. GOP leaders are now beginning the first initial push for regulation of buttstock kits. Hopefully, this will create an opening for dialogue. Because we need to talk.
Americans don’t like discussing things that are uncomfortable – whether its race, gender, or violence. Too often, we tell ourselves that now is not the time; we should discuss this issue when the smoke clears, when the dust settles, when our hearts aren’t bursting with emotion. We say we’ll talk about it tomorrow. Then we’re hit with the next tragedy. And the cycle repeats.
We may not agree on the specifics of what needs to happen, but it’s time to recognize that something does. We’re way past tomorrow and, at this point, and it looks like it may never actually come.
Want to know more? Good. Try these as starters:
ONE // TWO // THREE // FOUR // BONUS — We’ve been discussing this issue for a while.