Tuesday, July 24, 2012
If you want peace...
"If you want peace (less violence in our society), work for justice."
Now this isn't a platitude or an attempt to be flippant. I don't assume to know the solution to gun violence in our country but I'm confident I know the nature of the problem. It's only thought debate and discussion that we can find effective solutions.
Why so much gun violence in this country?
The reason why weapons are out there is people are afraid. They are afraid of many things. It's reasonable, at some time in your life, to fear violence from someone (crazy neighbor that you can't move away from, stalking ex partner, drug addled relative, or just a high crime neighborhood like the Central District). At those times, it makes sense to be able to protect yourself in the most reasonable way for you possible.
Now, there are plenty of professionals and civilians out there who have a measured, serious, and objective relationship with firearms. To this person, they are tools. They are not objects of affection or delight. They are necessary parts of a larger picture, be that picture serious and necessary hunting for food, actual sport, or the use of weapons to defend someone from imminent threat of grave bodily injury or death (generally in the hands and the responsibility of law enforcement.) These people look at firearms one way; they are to be respected, but not loved.
But the problem is, most of the people who really really like guns, the people who collect, the ones who are strident NRA members have a different kind of fear. They are afraid someone will take their shiny toys away. They are afraid of being mugged in Bellevue Square Mall. They are afraid of the Muslims (hell, all brown people). They are afraid of -- someone, anyone who will take way their security.
And on top of this...
They really, really, really like guns. They like them in a way that surpasses the normal fetish for anything else. I've met people who like motorcycles, power tools, bake ware but I have rarely met watch-nuts who loves their watches like some gun-nuts love their guns. I've been around these people. I've worked with them, served with them and, for the most part, had to work with them. Some of them are nice people. Some of them I trust. But I have seen some of the most idiotic and disturbing behavior around firearms from the very people that claim to be "responsible gun owners." Their affection for firearms clouds their judgment way too often and, the problem is, they either don't know it, or ignore you when you point it out.
Like the so called "security professional" who thought it was funny to turn weapons "off safe" in the weapons rack of the security control point (our office) in Iraq.
Or the two "security professionals" who decided to get into a yelling and shoving match, including the chest bumping, while carrying sidearms.
And that's that problem. It's so emotional. We are up against a group of people that love guns. They love them in movies. They love collections of them. They love cowboys. They love violent video games. And yes, some of them sleep with them under their pillow. Seriously. It's a deep deep culture of fear and violence and it's built on good guys vs bad guys, protecting yourself from perceived threats (some not at all real), and a machismo that poisons our society. Half of them are afraid and insecure and the other half have a inflates sense of self-described Walter Mitty heroism that is undeserving of the true meaning of the word "hero".
Hence my thought of, "If you want peace, work for justice."
It's only when our society is just, where people are truly free, where the income inequity is gone, where the police treat all equally, where justice is equal to all, no matter their station, that we will eliminate fear and violence from our society. It's only by eliminating the necessity for so many firearms in our country that we can whittle down their numbers to the fetishists and, hopefully, train them to love something else, or simply wait them out and breed them out of our society.
But like I said, the solution is not obvious. It can be found, though. The solution to any human created problem can be solved by humans. But it's only by admitting there is a problem, by looking it square in the face, that we can take the next step. That step is being willing to discuss and debate the issue openly and honestly.
That is the only path out of the woods and into a society where firearms are irrelevant.