Normally we try to steer clear of political hot button topics on this site and just torpedo big business… but what the hell. Today we’re doing guns.
Since before the United States was even a country, those living here espoused a cultural more which completely and irreversibly embraced the concept that guns are cool as hell. Because as tools of self-empowerment (offensive or defensive), they totally are.
That same trend exhibited other places— it started with the advent of individual weaponry as the great “leveler” as far back as the medieval Welsh longbow— but in those places, development and acquisition of personal weaponry by individual citizens was curtailed by such forces as monarchal authority. Not so here, where resistance to such monarchal authority was the primary reason our nation came into being in the first place.
The reason why this is important is to illustrate the incontrovertible fact that YOU CANNOT SIMPLY REVERSE THE TREND without the application of the very “monarchal”-style authority that gave rise to the entire cultural trend in the first place.
Add to that the fact that there is a billion dollar small arms industry (with accompanying lobby) that came into existence to supply that continuing cultural trend, and that there are numerous massively-funded private organizations that came into existence to support that cultural trend— the free citizen and his individual armaments in defiance of governmental authority— AND the fact that our media has ALWAYS been essentially built around the presumed coolness of guns— and you start to understand the hard truth behind the situation.
You cannot EVER make all the guns in this country go away. It is 250 years too late to do that. One of the main reasons this country even exists is that a monarch formerly sent soldiers into the unprotected dwellings of those who lived here, and they resisted. That proverbial cat is out of the bag.
Our media embraces this, and makes lots of money depicting guns as being seriously cool and sexy. So do our books, games, graphic novels, bumper stickers, etc… because that is a potent metaphor we all buy into. Everyone on the planet shares this tendency. Americans just exploit it the best, and buy into it the most. Because it’s part of our cultural heritage.
The guns are there. And occasionally, some wacko gets his hands on some and does something crazy. Lots of people commit suicide with them, or shoot people with them by accident. Because they are instruments designed to inflict catastrophic harm on a living creature. No mystery there. Not everyone can, or will, handle them responsibly. But you can’t just close your eyes and “wish them all into the cornfield.” They are here to stay.
We MIGHT try to curb the growing trend in our media to depict them as great problem-solvers, and better police our gun shows and pawnshops to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals or the mentally ill. But that would require an open dialogue, and no one really wants to open one, in any camp.
Those are the facts. Pretty much everything else is just hyperbole and hysteria designed to fuel paranoia to get better TV ratings and more website hits… or to sell more guns.
The problem is NOT the millions and millions of gun-owning Americans who do NOT use them to violate the law.
Actually, when you compare gun ownership statistics (even the guns we KNOW ABOUT, not the millions we don’t) with violent crime rates, you notice things aren’t really all that bad. We DON’T have thousands and thousands of gun deaths a day in America, we have a hundred or so. Out of 315 million citizens, in a country with 270 million guns in which 30% of the population admits that they have a firearm in their home.
Big news gun massacres happen a few times a year, with victim numbers ranging between 2-3 up to 15 or so. Horrible, yes— but again, if everyone who owned guns in America was a wanton killer, we’d be wading in blood on our way to work every day. Statistically, something like 20% of the guns in this country have never even been fired, and 60-70% of all privately-owned American firearms have been fired less than a dozen times. The gun industry is primarily a “vanity” industry, and most of the guns it sells are essentially just high-priced, seldom-used toys.
More attention needs to be focused on identifying people who want to kill other people, and getting them off the street before they actually do it. But— that’s a tough task. Such people tend to be very good at hiding their plans until they actually try to carry them out. And recent news makes it clear how most Americans feel about additional surveillance and digital tracking technology.
The trade-off is ALWAYS “which do you want—more security or more freedom?” And the answer to THAT question is always a moving target.