Watching video of kids getting shot is traumatic. How could it not be? And who can watch that and not be furious — terrified — sickened?
So how can we possibly expect that our immediate reaction will fix a damned thing?
We don’t make good decisions when we’re upset; nobody does. Instead, we get angry; we kick and throw things; we cast blame everywhere. The universe hates us and everyone’s evil. And then, if we’re smart, we settle down and figure out what went wrong so we can stop it from happening again.
Every time one of these evil nuts escapes the basement he’s been festering in and shoots up a school or festival with a scary-looking rifle, the next day there are thousands of ads calling for a ban on “assault rifles”. It makes sense, right? Except it ignores that only about 12% of these events involve any weapon of that nature. If you’re looking for a weapon to blame, the 9mm Glock 17 is by far the most deadly; it’s a high-capacity handgun that’s the weapon of choice in mass shooting after mass shooting. And nobody’s calling to ban it. Why is that?
(Source: Everytown For Gun Safety)
The answer is as human as it is simple: People are more concerned with their feelings than solutions. Denial comes first, then anger followed by bargaining. At the moment, most everyone is focused on who to blame, be it the teacher who propped open the door, the reason the door didn’t lock after the prop was removed, the cops who failed to go in, or the NRA for obstructing gun laws. The next stage is depression; if you’re thinking “Why bother? Nothing’s going to change”, that’s where you are.
Now that the problem has become an issue, it’s become politicized. Democrats will use this event as a weapon to beat on Republicans, and Republicans go on the defensive. It’s a great moneymaker for the Party — for both parties, actually — and it really galvanizes the vote for those midterm elections, but those of us who aren’t part of the behind-the-scenes political machinery don’t care about winning or losing. We want solutions, and that’s exactly what politics can’t give us; in the present environment, nobody actually cares about the facts.
On the other hand, it does give us the opportunity to feel self-righteous and superior to the Other Side.
Democrats get to call the NRA and all Republicans child-murderers. People who own guns, they feel, must be insecure in their manhood and are definitely more worried about their rights than public safety. Republicans reply that, yes, individual rights are more important than public safety, especially when you’re waving around invented nonsense words like “Assault Rifle”. Why should anyone who can’t tell a clip from a magazine think they’re capable of writing gun laws, and who did a bayonet lug last injure?
After that the conversation goes downhill, and we never do actually get to solving the problem at hand.
Which is… what, exactly? “Gun violence”? “Mass shootings”?
If you actually sit down and go through the data, it soon becomes apparent that there’s not one single problem. It’s more like six or seven different problems, some of which involve guns tangentially and others which may well be caused by the guns themselves.
Yes, this is going to get complicated. What — you’re afraid of a little thinking now? If this really is important to you, a little complexity is hardly too much to ask; we’re talking people’s lives — children’s lives. We should be willing to invest whatever it takes and rebuild our whole society if we have to.
Or… hell, if that’s too much for you, go back to hating the Other Side and winning the next election and be damned to you for your callous inhumanity and the narrowness of your mind.
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