Note: I started researching gun control statistics truly fearful of what I would find. Deep down I thought “what if guns really do cause more harm than they do good in society?” Now I write this in the hope that someone will read my words and in doing so will be freed from the blinders of the 2nd Amendment controversy and others like it. I would like to withdraw my personal standings from the topic and calmly/logically explain my reasoning.
Everyone seems to agree; Due to the spike in public mass shootings it’s now time to talk about gun control. I find the turmoil intolerably frustrating. This is not the time to talk about gun control. This is the time to look at ourselves as human beings and ask why these unthinkable events unfold. I believe that we can put a stop to public mass shootings but before any progress can be made we must stop fighting, lay emotions aside, and start relentlessly searching for the true reasons why.
When I was a young child around 5 or 6 I witnessed my father trying to slam shut a large toolbox. His rage seething towards this lifeless and unyielding object that defied his will. He soon became overwhelmed and withdrew from his acts of aggregation. I took the opportunity to walk over calmly and inspect the toolbox. My father watched as I felt along the sides of the box and found a small tow-strap that was sticking out ever so slightly in one of the corners. The way the strap stuck out it was almost invisible, however it made closing the toolbox impossible. I pushed the small bit of strap back into its place and gently closed that which my father failed to shut with such conviction and force. He beamed, laughing at his own frustration and then told me something I would never forget, “The difference between someone of normal intelligence and a genius is the person with normal intelligence sees an event unfold and takes it at face value, however the genius sees the same event unfold and asks WHY did that happen.” the truth in his words have served me well throughout my life. It is easy to look at HOW something has happened without truly asking WHY. It’s believed that the “why factor” is what separates us from the apes. You can teach both an ape and a young child to stand two tall blocks on opposite points marked on a table. After the task is preformed successfully multiple times by both the human child and the ape, one of the blocks is replaced with a trick block. This trick block’s base is uneven and no matter how hard either subject tries, it will not stand when placed on the table. The ape will try again and again to stand the block in its proper place. It will continuously stand the block up and watch it fall until it seems to except that the block will never stand. Frustrated or no longer interested the ape leaves the block lying on the table. The young human child, on the other hand, will try to stand the trick block somewhere between 2-5 times before taking a closer look, feeling the edges, and once he/she feels how uneven the bottom of the block is they know that they have been tricked. The ape will except that the block cannot stand where the child asks WHY it cannot. Our minds tell us that something is wrong and reacts with “Why?” instead of continuing to act out our roll in the task set before us.
Age can bring out in us more ape like behavior; acting out our rolls, taking things at face value instead of asking why. Maybe because we feel like we have all the answers. Maybe we feel like we have a handle on the world and HOW it work. See enough blocks not stand and we except that outcome as a fact of life. So why have I gone into this long story? As I stated earlier, unlike most I believe that we can put a stop to mass shootings. We may not be able to stop 1-2 a decade, but the undeniable acceleration of the rate at which these national scares are accruing, twenty years ago, would have been unthinkable. The gun violence problem in the U.S. is a trick block that we can no longer afford to take at face value. Feeling all the edges and fixing the uneven ends to make this block stand is vitally important to the safety of our future generations.
The Causes That Affect:
A lot of gun violence statistics have been tossed around in the last month and a half. The fact that we have more guns per capita in the U.S. than any other developed nation in the world is believed to be the reason that we have a high rate of gun violence. This is not the cause of mass shootings however. The points being made are irrelevant to the issue and hold no bearing on the true problem at hand.
At The End Of My Rope, There Is A Trigger:
“In the U.S. where somewhere between 52-49% of households own guns the number of suicides committed with guns is outrageous, but in Japan where only .01% of households own guns, committing suicide with a gun is unheard of.” This is a quote that I found on an anti-gun blog and without being scrutinized, the point of this quote rings with validity. Suicide is the number one reason for gun deaths in America. In the U.S. an astonishing 53% of suicides are committed with a firearm. Quite the opposite in Japan where gun ownership is almost nonexistent and the number of suicides committed with a gun are understandably in line. The argument being made becomes invalid when we find the U.S. averages 10.9 suicides per 100,000 per year and Japan, in 2012, averaged 24.4 suicides per 100,000. Gun ownership and availability have nothing to do with suicide. WHY do people commit suicide? Around the world the leading causes of suicide are; long term unemployment, social life/relationship problems, and depression. It has also been determined that somewhere around 90% of those who commit suicide suffer or have suffered from a mental disorder and/or a history of substance abuse. Age and time of year are also factors. By focusing on the true causes surrounding suicide we can create awareness and help prevent the 7th leading cause of death in our country.
A Danger To You And Yours:
“Having a gun in your home makes you statistically more likely to be killed by a gun,” If you haven’t heard this quote you need to get out more. I’ve even seen it reported as a statistical fact from the CDC. Once again it bears some truth. Without discipline and respect owning a gun can be dangerous. However, As a gun owner you have a .000018% chance of being accidentally killed with your firearm. This means that without the proper training it is more dangerous for me to have a pool in my back yard then it is for me to have a firearm in my home. To paint a more disturbing picture; when you go to the doctor and get a prescription you have a .0178% chance that the doctor’s prescription will kill you. Yes going to the doctor can be more dangerous than owning a firearm. WHY do people fear gun ownership? The fear of most, albeit well-meaning, “anti gunners” is due to simple lack of education on the subject and the large amount of negative stigmas surrounding firearms. I was a certified NRA instructor at the age of 15. I have a deep passion for teaching firearm safety/self-defense. I have learned through my teachings however that gun ownership is not for everyone. Gun ownership is a choice. If an American does not want to own, hold, or shoot a firearm they should never have to do so. I have never smoked marijuana in my life but I have studied the effects of THC on the body and mind. I understand that it has good implications as well as bad. Just because you’re not a user doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be well educated. Being open minded and understanding are the keys to overcoming stigmas. Wouldn’t you agree?
More Guns, More Problems:
Piers Morgan said on the Colbert Report, “We don’t have guns (the U.K.) you can’t get your hands on them, even the police don’t have them,” he went on adding, “Just quietly pointing out that in my country where we have no guns we have 34-40 gun murders a year, in your country where you have 300 million guns you have 11-12 thousand gun murders a year,” Once again the point Mr. Morgan is making seems to make sense, however when scrutinized the point falls under our true but invalid category. In the last year the U.K. has seen only 59 people killed by guns in total and the U.S. has seen 29,777 (this includes murders, suicides, and accidental deaths) my numbers may be a little different but the point remains the same; where there are guns, there is gun violence. This is where the point being made becomes irrelevant, “England and Wales have one of the worst crime rates among developed nations,” -The Telegraph 17 Jan, 2013. When you have a high number of guns in your country, you are going to have more crimes committed with guns, however no guns, in no way means less crime. The U.K.’s crime rate skyrocketed consistently for year’s after they banned guns completely. In the last 3-4 years the crime rate has dropped but is still not below or near the previous rate before the ban. Other factors contribute to its crime rate but the U.K. stands somewhere around 2,034 violent crimes per 100,000 per year and the U.S. is closer to 466 violent crimes per 100,000 per year. That is a huge difference. We can also consider facts like most of Europe has very stringent gun control laws. Gun ownership across Europe runs from 30-.01 per 100,000. The U.S. has a much higher rate of gun ownership, around 75-100 guns per 100,000 however Europe has about 3.5 acts of gun violence per 100,000 per year and the U.S. has around 2.4 acts of gun violence per 100,000 per year. Mexico has an extremely stringent ban on guns and, in Mexico the number of violent crimes committed with a firearm per 100,000 per year is still 2.3 to our 2.4. So again we ask WHY. With a close look we can see very clearly that in developed countries around the world guns have very little to do with violence. WHY does violence occur? Human nature could be to blame. If you would like to blame something more tangible however, studies have shown for decades now that, no matter where you are in the world, violence seems to fallow illegal substances. Where there are drugs you will find violence and violent crimes.
How To Truly Miss The Point:
“No one wants to talk about guns, and they are the problem,” This quote is from several late night talk shows and T.V. news reports, relayed in different ways with varying degrees of subtly. However it is paraphrased, I believe it to be the most damaging. Any person who hears it and lends any degree of truth to these words is distracted from the true problem. However, In all fairness and, to make my point, let’s look at the gun in and of itself. It’s easy to look at the gun as the bad guy. Guns are used for horrible crimes against humanity. I have personally seen behind the veil of war. I know that if a person so chooses they can use a gun for grate evil. WHY do people want to keep and bear arms? WHY would anyone want to keep the Devil so close to them unless they themselves were truly evil? “Because the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun!” This is a bad programmed response of the gun rights advocates. What we end up saying is the only response to evil is a fire fight. In some cases this may be true, but we must try defeating our opposition with pure logic. As previously stated, in America somewhere around 29,777 people a year are killed by guns. At the same time in America over 2.5 million private gun owners a year (6,849 a day) are recorded as defending themselves with their guns. This means that every 4-5 days firearms help save more people then “they kill” every year. The intentions of any person, behind any weapon, makes all the difference.
Oh Brave New World:
I hope that you are starting to see the pattern that I see, the one that keeps me up at night. For every cause an effect, for every action a consequence and, for every event a there is a WHY. What is the answer to our national crisis? How do we make the block stand? WHY would a PERSON do this and how do we stop them? These are the questions that keep repeating in my head. We all know the effects of a mass shooting. They cause fear, overwhelming sadness, and confusion. Along with rape and child abuse it is a human act that most of us, myself included, cannot comprehend. We cannot fault the well-intentioned but mislead. It is human nature to explain things we do not understand the best way we know how. Ancient man determent that the earth was flat because that is how he perceived it. The Greeks saw lightning and knew it as Zeus’s wrath. Aborigines saw Haley’s Comment and determined it to be a great shaman. America sees a mass shooting and the firearm becomes our new demonic demigod. However I fear it may be even more complicated than this. I fear we, to steal an observation form David Grossmen, are more like the ancient Celts who did not understand the correlation between sex and pregnancy. Like the Celts we are lending little logic or sense to explain these tragedies in our modern society. As if the fear of finding out the true causes of this evil, the fear that we as a society may be to blame, regresses us to an almost primal state. Maybe at this point we have seen to many of these horrific tragedies unfold to believe that we can ever make this block stand again. We then conclude a stop-gap like gun control is the only way to lessen the violence. This view is unacceptable and lazy. There is an edge to this trick block that we have not felt yet and need to look harder for, an x-factor or WHY-factor that we do not yet comprehend. The first step is to stop blaming the firearm for being a miss used tool and truly look for a lasting solution. Until we do, we will never better ourselves. Instead I foresee us becoming a more agoraphobic nation, slaves to our fear of each other and fear of society. The sad truth is that the answers may remain unseen, clouded within the fog of unnecessary controversy. We must lie down and be done with petty bickering, dig relentlessly for the underlying answers, and not relinquish the pursuit until we can invariably say, “THIS IS WHY!” Until we do no amount of gun control will ever help me send my son to his first day of school without fear in my heart.
Dedication: To my wife, the love of my life. We may not always see eye to eye but without you pushing me to explain the reasoning behind my own beliefs, I would not be the man I am today.