Is Fighting Back Really The Answer?


Roy Lichtenstein,  "Pistol" 1968I grew up surrounded by the white, middle-class Southern trinity of god, guns, and golf. Before finishing grade school, I’d been baptized; I’d been taught to drive, chip, and putt; and I’d been trained to use hunting rifles, pistols, and shotguns. For my 12th birthday, I got a 20 gauge of my very own.

I don’t think I’ve fired it since. It’s still locked up in my daddy’s gun cabinet, and that’s probably where it’ll stay.

I don’t really have anything to add to the discussions surrounding last week’s school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. I agree with my fellow progressives that there’s a huge problem with assault weapons in this country. I don’t think anyone involved in drafting the second amendment envisioned a day when Americans would have easy access to cheap guns capable of killing dozens of people without reloading.

I also strongly agree with LZ Granderson‘s response to those on the right who wonder what might’ve happened if someone at Sandy Hook had been armed on Friday. Arguing that the problem of guns can be solved with more guns is at best ludicrous, and at worst, dangerous, bordering on criminal.

However, I also agree with gun-rights advocates who insist that limiting access to guns won’t solve the problem. It may curb the problem, but it can’t resolve it altogether. People who want to do harm to others will find a way.

And of course, there’s no consistent way to spot the warning signs. I grew up around a few people with mental conditions who occasionally made me worry about my own safety and that of others. But so far, my fears have been misguided.

To me, the worst part is that this particular genie is way out of the bottle. That may seem like a weird turn of phrase to use in such a situation– normally, it refers to rights and progress, not mass killings. But remember the sniper trend of the 60s and 70s? It was as if a lightbulb went off in certain heads: “What an interesting idea. I never thought of that.” I’m not so sure this is different.

I don’t have any grand ideas on how to stem the tide, apart from promoting education and equality: after all, happy, prosperous people would seem like the foundation of a stable society. Relatively speaking, we live in a very peaceful era, but that’s cold comfort at times like this.

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