On Gun Violence in America

“Many of us have passed the threshold of what we can tolerate in human life so that gun advocates can feel comfortable. I don’t think a consensus can be built, so at this point I’m focused on getting out the vote and winning with numbers.”

– Mike McHargue, on Facebook

We’ve all heard the arguments:

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
If you make guns illegal, only the criminals will have guns.”
“It’s not a gun problem. It’s a mental health problem.”

Statements like this ring hollower and hollower every time there is a mass shooting or a school massacre where innocent children are left dead in the wake of gun violence.

While data clearly demonstrates that reduced per capita access to guns does indeed correlate to far fewer mass shootings (NY Times), gun advocates still cling to their skewed belief that more guns does not equal more gun deaths. I’m sorry, but this view is ignorant.

Guns are like mines on a battlefield. True, they won’t explode on their own, but surely we can agree that the more there are and the more densely concentrated, the more likely you are to step on one!

The argument isn’t about stopping all incidents of gun violence; we’re not stupid. Obviously, criminals who really, really want a gun will still manage to get one. The argument is about mitigating RISK. As long as guns are literally everywhere and there is little restriction on who can get one and what kind they can get, the ODDS are much HIGHER that this kind of tragedy will continue to occur. If you look at the data in the referenced article, it is quite obvious that other countries have a much clearer battlefield with far fewer “mines”, hence they can walk through relatively unscathed. The US however, has barely any open ground left for us to walk on, a fact which these senseless acts are an all-too-frequent reminder of.

I would even go one step further and say that mental health is a problem, perhaps even the root problem in many cases. Sadly, Congress isn’t willing (especially under this administration) to take significant steps to combat that issue, either. So, while we wait indefinitely for something to be done about mental health, should we just sit back and continue to enable the folks already out there by leaving gun laws untouched? Or should we perhaps go ahead and treat the symptoms as we seek a cure for the disease? And, in the meantime, wouldn’t it be nice if someone like the CDC could research the real causes of gun violence in this country so we could pin down a solution even faster? Oh, wait…

But I realize I’m not talking to the hardline 20% here who are convinced that there is no need for gun law reform. I can’t generalize gun owners, either, since there are many, many responsible gun owners out there who do support sensible gun laws and more restrictive access. The 20% are beyond convincing. The only way to make a change is for the 80% of us who do want gun law reform, including the families of victims of mass shootings, who see the pattern that the data clearly illustrates, to truly understand the severity of the situation and use their voices to VOTE the folks out of office who have already decided that there will be no debate and no solutions. These elected “leaders”, who value NRA contributions more than the positive reforms they could achieve, need to hear a clear and unified statement come November.

This Must Stop!

Fisher, Max & Keller, Josh. “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer.” The New York Times [New York] November 7, 2017.