Guns and the Future of American Society
In the wake of this week’s tragedy, and the long line of mass shooting incidents over the last 10 years, it’s time for an open, rational dialogue on the usage/role of guns in the Unites States.
We know we have 11,000 gun related murders each year. We know that it is our constitutional right to own a gun and form a militia to fight the government. And, we also know that there are more than 225 million guns circulating through the U.S. today—nearly one for each man, woman and child. Regardless of how we want to approach a solution for the recent uptick in horrendous violence, we can at least agree that there is a glaring problem.
Right now, many Americans are genuinely calling for teachers to carry guns with them at all times as a way to protect their students from a random attack.
I wonder aloud, is this really how a society that strives for peace, openness and freedom should operate? If we take this logic further, then maybe our teachers should also carry gas masks, grenades, knives and wear a bulletproof vest to fend off the prospect of a terrorist attack too. In fact, maybe we should all do this.
Again, is this the society we want to create for our children: one that is fundamentally based on fear, smallness, and anxiety—a kind of reactionary schizophrenia where the smallest sound warrants an overwhelming show of force? This doesn’t sound like the best humanity can do, especially from a free, modern society.
In the end, I’d like to be able to trust in this country’s level of tolerance as well as its citizens’ right to freedom. There could be some options on the table that wouldn’t affect hunters or diehard militiamen wannabe’s, and these options would protect our freedom and our loved ones, while ensuring an inward push toward a healthy cultural mindset.
Let’s look north: Canada has liberal gun laws that are similar to ours and yet only have 150 gun related murders each year (that would translate to about 1,100 murders in the Unites States, or one-tenth the current murder rate). They’re not all “packing heat” and fearfully waiting to take on an imaginary intruder. Canada has an exceptional healthcare system that takes care of people who are in need. It isn’t as taboo to have mental issues or to seek the help of professionals who can provide these suffering people with medication as it is here.
Why don’t we help people in need instead of handing them guns?
This could be one step toward security that would simultaneously help our own citizens in need and uphold some level of confidence in our society. Again, do we need to protect ourselves from ourselves? If yes, then it is a slippery slope downhill.
There is no doubt that this is a very complicated issue with a great deal of interested parties involved. While it is easy to spew out our opinions, as I have done in this article, it will be interesting to see how much genuine listening occurs around the country in the coming weeks. In general, it seems that we have become so polarized in the United States that the most important activity in human interaction (and democracy), deep listening, has been shelved for louder voices and harder fist pounds in the hopes that one side eventually drowns out the other.
Gandhi said, “Be that change that you want to see in the world.”
I think most of us can agree that we love playing with children, experiencing happiness, holding our significant other in our arms, eating a delicious meal, enjoying comedy, and that we are fortunate to live in a free society. We may have our deep-seated differences about things too. But we can all listen, and one by one, that might be a way toward a culture that upholds compromise—a society that can agree on the simpler things in life and then work through what is difficult and dense.
Ed: Brianna B.
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