|USA! We’re #1! In legal gun ownership!
Surprise! No, wait…
There have been 1442 gun deaths in America since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT on December 14 of last year. The only way to avoid hearing about gun control would be to live under a rock.
There’s tons and tons of insightful (and not so insightful) commentary out there about what could be done to prevent another Newtown and cut back on the remarkable level of gun violence in our country. Universal background checks. Assault weapons bans. Armed guards in schools. You’ve read it all too. I won’t rehash it here.
I’ve been wondering increasingly about how much of our gun violence has to do with our cultural relationship to guns rather than the guns themselves per se. If guns by themselves don’t kill people, why are we so sure guns by themselves would save people? Bear with me for a minute…
I bet if SEAL Team Six were hanging out around Sandy Hook or at an armed robbery or the events preceding any other gun death they could stop a lot of violence. But, we, as a collective nation, are not SEAL Team Six. Or police officers. Or highly trained combat soldiers. We get winded when we go up a flight of stairs. We get stressed out by traffic and holiday shopping. The closest we’ve ever come to a combat situation is Call of Duty.
With years of the physical and mental training similar to what SEALs, police officers, and soldiers receive, could we develop their skill sets? Probably. But Lord knows the vast majority of us don’t have them now. So arm us to our teeth and we’re still collectively a bunch of out of shape, stressed out, pretend violence enthusiasts only now we have guns. Having kick ass running shoes does not mean you can reasonably expect to run a marathon.
Before anyone gets too worked up I am not calling, you, personally an out of shape Call of Duty fanatic with sloppy fire arms training and a gun fetish. I’m also not saying you, personally, couldn’t run a marathon right this minute. If you’re a highly trained weapons specialist and/or marathon runner then, good for you! But the vast majority of us aren’t.
As such it would be one thing if we only used guns for hunting and at shooting ranges or stored them safely and only took them out when we absolutely needed to defend ourselves because we embraced the reality that simply possessing a fire arm does not in and of itself enable you to protect people.
But it doesn’t seem like we’re collectively going around saying, “Man. I have a gun. Highly trained SWAT team members have guns and sometimes even they aren’t able to save people who need saving. Sometimes even they accidentally hit an innocent person. I better treat this weapon with the utmost respect. This level of responsibility is huge. Guns don’t save people. People save people. What kind of training do I need to make sure I’m actually capable of saving someone? We need to have a national conversation about training and preparedness and safety.”
There’s a lot of, “if only we had more concealed hand guns” or “if only there were more good guys with guns” or “we need volunteer armed guards because if I’d been at [insert site of shooting here] I would have taken that guy out!”
If the gun in and of itself doesn’t cause the problem why on earth would we think guns in and of themselves could solve it?