It has been over a month since the tragedies in Newton and Webster and in that time we have had a few more to add to the role. It has been a month and a half of posturing, name calling, and utter lack of real courage or discussion. No one likes to look at the cold hard fact that tens of thousands of Americans die every year from the use of firearms, some the result of murder, many accidental. So few want to discuss the real reasons for it.
There are 300 million firearms in private ownership out there. That is one for every man, woman, and child in the United States. If you hoard gas like that, you can expect an errant spark to blow up your house. If you hoard food like that, you can expect vermin and disease to infect your home. So how is it not obvious that we can expect disaster if we hoard items for which the only purpose is the ending of life?
Don’t get me wrong, because the real reasons for all this is not the existence of the guns themselves. No the real reasons are what lies behind our want and need for these instruments of destruction: our fear.
Despite what some on the gun rights side of the debate would have you believe, private ownership of firearms does exist in other Western Democracies. Canadians love their hunting too, as do your Englishmen. Yes there are all sorts of provisos, but you can own a gun. They also watch the same violent media (anyone here watch a Guy Ritchie movie,) play the same violent video games and watch the same violent news from around the world. Why then are their rates of violent crime so much lower than ours?
We have been so afraid for much of our time as a nation, maybe even earlier. Fear of the red man, fear of the black man rising up to break his chains, fear of the poor rising up to claim their rightful share, fear of a government that we refuse to hold accountable at the polls but are all too ready to hold accountable at the end of a gun’s barrel, these fears, and many more besides, have held us hostage.
We buy into the idea that our neighbors, our government, those in the wrong neighborhoods, or the wrong color are threats to us. We live in a world where even an otherwise well-reasoned article on guns in our country is tainted with references to the author’s fears. He and his wife were so afraid of their fellow Texans during the evacuation of Houston that it did not even occur to them that those people might have bigger fish to fry than attacking or robbing them, like, perhaps, evacuating themselves.
It is time to put away our fears. The government exists for us, and we have to work together to remind it of that, without resorting to silly, ill-considered, out of context references to the Second Amendment. Communities are based on trust, not fear, and if we cannot see that we will be hard pressed to solve any of our issues, not just this one.