It’s been a few weeks since the tragic Arizona shootings and as is typical in event aftermath the conversation about gun rights has ceased. Immediately after the incident gun sales shot up because people wanted to defend themselves against crazy. Also, as usual after all headline making gun related deaths, there were predictable reactions from those who proposed limiting gun rights and the equally expected retaliations from gun advocates re their constitutional right to bear arms.
Those who choose to kill with guns in these types of incidents are often disenfranchised, have diagnosed mental problems or are romanticizing the deadly event they want to orchestrate. Since we are no longer in the wild wild west of untamed territories where the law of the land was often written by the smoke of a Peace Maker, I think we need to reframe how we discuss gun rights. We must first address the systemic societal problems that cause someone to pick up a gun with the intent to kill because then and only then will we be able to stem the violence that is so pervasive in society today.
Being a gun culture, our language is saturated with gun related idioms. At work you may be ‘under the gun’ or ‘going great guns,’ sometimes you ‘jump the gun’ or ‘beat the gun.’ If you’re trying to get someone to do something they resist they feel you’ve ‘put a gun to their head.’ During an argument you ‘stick to your guns’ or might call someone a ‘son of a gun.’ If you’re investigating something and find the element that breaks open said investigation you’ve found ‘the smoking gun.’ These sayings, which equate to a violent expression of shooting, are second nature to us. The mentally tormented among us that are planning an act of evil may use those phrases in their everyday and because we’re used to hearing them, we don’t recognize the eminent threat .
Not only does our culture contribute to the ease in choosing a gun to kill but so does the political landscape and rhetoric. It is extremely easy to purchase a gun. Your neighborhood Wal-Mart sells them. Sometimes car dealerships will offer you a gun with the sale of a vehicle. Republican State Legislatures have introduced and passed legislation to allow guns in parks, bars, and now schools. And when the phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people ” is the mantra of gun rights advocates it’s easy to see how an angry person would reach for a gun and pull the trigger.
The phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is inane. Of course guns kill people and of course people kill people. Oh I know a gun, in and of itself, just sitting there doesn’t pick itself up and fire itself but it is a weapon, an instrument of death. Obviously a person must make a choice to kill and then having made that choice must then choose the weapon and when that person chooses a gun, it’s the gun that delivers the bullet that enters the body that wounds or kills.
Guns by their very nature are not passive, their whole purpose is to shoot a bullet at something or someone. Oh you can dress them up in pretty pearls or gold accents, you can put extensions on them to silence their bark or distance see but just because they’re all gussied up doesn’t negate their violent nature. I can understand people’s desire to hunt; defend themselves and their property but how many guns does one need in order do to that and what type? And before the NRA comes knocking on my door to pass out pamphlets –I was raised around guns.
My father took me hunting with my brother, not all the time though and he took us target shooting. But here’s what Dad did that’s missing in a lot of gun ownership households today, he sat my brother and I down, not once but several times and repeatedly educated us about guns, he kept the guns locked in gun cabinet long before it was mandated he do so and he kept the bullets separate from the guns.
In addition, he repeated over and over again what we were to never, ever, ever, ever do with a gun which was point it at another human being. A lot of today’s gun owners are vigorously ignorant and use their gun not to hunt or defend but to intimidate and control and they do not educate their children about responsible gun ownership but rather educate them on whom to shoot.