Guns and Reason
Newsflash: I’m not a fan of firearms or the gun lobby.
I find the dogmatic, reactionary rhetoric of slippery slopes and an oppressive government just waiting to take away precious weapons and (allegedly) God-given freedoms absurd.
I wince at the statistics that pour in after every new report of a mass shooting: namely that in response to another senseless act of ballistic violence, there’s a predictable, equally senseless gun-buying spree.
If nothing else, we’ve pretty clearly proven that having more guns doesn’t keep us, as a society, safer from gun violence.
And yes, the tired trope of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is still out there, still getting airtime, still getting folks elected, still guaranteeing the shooting will continue.
For some reason – not, as far as I can tell, having anything to do with actual reason – there’s still a swath of the American population that seems unable to process either the data or language to draw a connection between “gun” and “gun violence.”
If one does the math on the number of Americans killed by guns annually, it adds up to more than the number of people who would perish if over 115 Airbus A320 or Boeing 737-800’s (set up with first class and coach seating) were to fall out of the sky in a year.
While I understand and (as a former frequent flyer) truly appreciate how safe flying is, I can’t help but be struck by what happens when I look at the numbers this way.
My math doesn’t include gun-related suicides. When we add those in, we’d have the equivalent of 269 similarly sized passenger jets dropping every year – or one air crash every 33 ½ hours.
With those numbers, no one in their right mind would even think of flying.
And, because we’re playing games of compare and contrast, the chances of having a severe clotting reaction to the J & J vaccine here in the US are roughly one in a million, while (as my nephew astutely pointed out) your chances of getting shot with a firearm in the US comes out to 40 times that number.
Based on our 6 clotting incidents, we wasted no time in putting a responsible “hold” on J & J’s Covid vaccine.
However, based on the roughly 90-108 daily gun-related deaths, (to say nothing of gun-related injuries) we’re clearly so stinking attached to the “protections” provided by our beloved, elevated, seemingly magical Second Amendment that we dare not look ourselves in the mirror with the slightest humility, courage or critical eye…
Lest we come face to face with rivers of blood, families torn apart and communities ravaged.
We’d have to see our own collective sociopathic disconnect from what happens…
Meanwhile, we continue to numb ourselves to a reality that is, in my book at least, just plain horrifying.
To add insult to injustice and injury, it’s impossible to make logical sense of statistics that show that the higher the American gun mortality body count climbs, the more guns Americans want to bring into their homes.
On one hand, I get it. People are so afraid of other people with guns that they now perceive gun ownership as the only feasible, “safe” option capable of providing an iota of protection.
On the other hand, just WTF?
The notion of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” seems akin to lighting fires in the corners of one’s home to protect it from arsonists.
The fires will indeed provide real warmth and light – for at least a few minutes – before the house burns down and the illusion breaks.
Given the current make-up of the House and Senate, the chances of addressing the issue in any substantive way are extraordinarily low.
Even though a large percentage of the population is actually in agreement over something as basic as universal background checks, conservative Republican legislators are so deeply entrenched in an endless trance of fear-addled absolutist Second Amendment dogma that any real action – or any hint of critical thinking or questioning beyond “thoughts and prayers” – appears to be dangerously heretical to the base.
And on we go, numbed to the real impact of repeated, soul-sucking, spirit-breaking loss, immune to the fact that shootings are becoming so routine that a handful of mass-shooting incidents just this past weekend weren’t considered shocking or sensational enough to make national news.
This is not rocket science, nor is it a terribly complicated ethical or moral dilemma. A whole lot more lethal firepower in the hands of a whole lot more people, particularly misguided young men, by the way, kills a whole lot more people.
It’s slam-dunk obvious.
And yet once again, in the name of individual rights, We the People of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave have turned our backs on personal responsibility, interdependence and the sanctity of life itself.
How painfully prophetic those awful words seem now: This is the ugly reality of “American carnage.”
Postscript: If you’re here in the States and as fed up with the current state of affairs around guns as I am, I request that you call and write your senators and congressional reps. Write your local papers as well. Silence hasn’t helped.