I was wondering if a long enough amount of time had passed since the Sandy Hook shootings that we could have a rational discussion about guns.
From the reaction I received on Facebook, the answer would be a sharply resounding “NO” that bursts your eardrums as it whizzes by your face in the form of a bullet. From what I heard the NRA say, I’m guessing there will NEVER be a time that is appropriate to discuss this issue objectively. And from the relationships I’ve seen shot all to hell over this controversial topic, I’d say we might as well go to war, because that’s the only way a consensus will be reached.
Never one to follow the sane and logical path, and never one to sit down and shut up when maybe it’s safer to do so, I’m going to talk about it anyway. Because, as a friend recently pointed out to me, these are the kinds of things we SHOULD be discussing.
My hubz and I have a friend who summed up the situation in a terrific analogy. I’m going to open with Seth’s take on the sitch, and move on from there.
Let’s say there’s a four-way stop in my town that has been a real nuisance. It’s a very dangerous intersection, and there is nothing but fatal crash after fatal crash. So, I decide to march on over to the local courthouse, and suggest putting up a stop light. As I stand in front of the mayor and city council, citing some particular wreck that killed somebody I know, the towns people start chiming in.
One guy stands up and says, “Who are you to take away my driving rights? I didn’t kill your friend. Some reckless, crazy driver did.”
His cousin sitting next to him stands up and says, “Yeah, and what’s the point? Crazy drivers don’t follow the law. They would just blow through a red light anyway.”
He turns to me and adds, “Maybe your friend would be alive if he drove a bigger car, like a Hummer, and hit the other guy first.”Then, on the other side of the courtroom, a guy in tight bicycle shorts holding up a 10-speed stands and says, “Cars are a menace! They should just outlaw them and we could all ride bikes in peace, eat granola bars, and sing Grateful Dead songs together.”
The two cousins get really indignant, and start making threatening motions to the bike guy before being restrained by a bailiff. “Who the hell are you to try to take away my car? I’d like to see you try, you hippie-freak!”
As the crowd gets rowdy, some little, old lady comes up and says, “What we need to do is pray to God to stop these car wrecks. I believe in Jesus very much, and I know he’ll protect us if we just ask, ‘Lord, please keep people from crashing into each other!‘”
But, most people in the audience don’t really know what to say, and just sit looking around confused.
Well, I would explain myself like this:
“Look, I don’t want to ban cars and driving. I enjoy driving myself. Most drivers don’t want to wreck into people and hurt anyone. But, we can’t just not do anything, and we can’t just leave it in God’s hands.”
Then I would continue:
“I only want to put a safeguard in place. That’s all. We don’t want to allow just ANYBODY to be allowed to drive, and we shouldn’t have lax traffic laws. I know laws are breakable, but they are also enforceable. Waiting at a red light may briefly inconvenience me, but that’s a small price I’m willing to pay to save a life or two. Sure — it won’t stop ALL the crashes — but it can stop SOME.”
Isn’t Seth’s analogy spot on? I’m missing the part where there is anything slightly contentious about what he is requesting. Maybe some of my more pro-gun, anti-discussion readers can enlighten me. Because as far as I can see, this is EXACTLY the kind of discussion we need to be having. We are standing at the intersection wondering how to make things better, and no one will consider the options.
As NPR states with regard to the National Rifle Association’s recent press conference after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School , “For its part, the NRA appeared ready to speak about anything — mental health, violent video games, the faults of the media — except new restrictions on gun control.”
This is a problem. We can’t keep avoiding this conversation. The main argument isn’t about taking away all the guns, any more than the main argument in Seth’s analogy above is to take away all the cars. Gun advocates absolutely MUST stop dodging this talk by saying they aren’t giving up their guns, because that isn’t even the issue on the table. Let’s deal with the four-way stop — the massacres — by thinking about how we can best work together to stop SOME, if not all, of these mass shootings.