I was in Salem at a meeting in the State Capital at 10:40 AM Thursday October 1st when the Umpqua Community College shooting occurred. All of the cell phones of the elected officials and their staff went off. They announced the news to the rest of us at the meeting. My heart sank and I got a bit nauseous. The meeting went on. Though some electeds did come and go during the next hour.
This shouldn’t be happening on a regular basis. It shouldn’t be happening at all. There are things we can do to try to stop or at least reduce these horrible incidents from occurring. Whats stopping action? Several things I think.
Some small percentage of the American people truly have psychosis when it comes to guns. I’m not talking about gun aficionados who I believe would accept reasonable laws if they believed they would reduce gun violence. I’m talking about those gun supporters who are divorced from reality. They believe it’s necessary to have guns, a lot of them, to fight off the government when “they” come to impose a one world order and the UN’s agenda 21. These people vote on one issue. They give money and will show up and protest. They start recall drives. They picket, write letters, interrupt speakers and act….crazy….because of their psychosis. Candidates are afraid of the chaos they rain down on them, and other voters don’t want to deal with them. Because when you argue with psychotics, or even try to point out their lack of reality, some become extremely disagreeable. Basically, the gun psychotics make civil discussion of guns and violence so disagreeable that normal people simply wont engage in the issue. So they win. We can’t let them. You can’t dissuade them from their fantasies, just tell them they’re wrong.
Another major hurdle to changing the way America treats with guns is the gun industry. This is a 3 billion dollar per year industry. They manufacture over 8 million guns per year, and import another 3 million guns per year. Guns don’t really wear out very quickly, and the number of gun owners in the US is in decline. That means one of the best ways to assure the continued expansion of the gun industry is to sell more guns to fewer people. Why would someone need 13 guns instead of 5 guns? Well if there were ever more powerful and exciting guns. Guns that were smaller, or larger, or evaded detection, or had higher magazine capacities. Or, if one had psychosis and believed that Obama and the UN were about to confiscate all guns, or come and register them, or if there were to be a great breakdown in civilization, it would be great to have a whole arsenal to protect you and your family. The gun industry funds the NRA and directs its policies to inflame and motivate gun owners and specifically encourages psychosis. It creates and supports hysteria about “gun grabbers”. Any proposal or bill to require expanded background checks, or magazine limitations, or any type of gun regulation is just more evidence to stoke the fires and that creates yet another run on guns at the local gun store. Polling shows without a doubt that about 75% of Americans, and a large majority of gun owners, support universal background checks.
Responsible gun owners need to quit the NRA and make sure that politicians know the NRA doesn’t speak for them, it speaks for the gun industry and people who have gun psychosis.
We also can’t forget the social and mental health problems that cause mass murders. Today social isolation can be a lot more damaging than it used to be. It’s a tragedy that people are lonely, mentally fragile and sad. Today at risk people go online and alienated from peers and family, angry at the world, and goaded on by the idiots who also habituate the internet, become time bombs. And if they or their families have a gun arsenal at home a tragedy can occur. This is exactly what we’ve seen in some of the most high profile mass murders. Mentally unstable and ill people, living on the internet, with a household full of guns. That is not a coincidence.
We have to be more individually responsible and proactive when we we see someone who needs help. Particularly family members. If you have someone like that living with you, get rid of the guns. And call out cyber bullying or cyber stupidity whenever you see it.
And its absolutely true and a contributing factor to violence that we uncritically tolerate- and sometimes celebrate- violence in our culture and art. Through movies, video games and television particularly, but also comic books, artwork and other mediums of communication and entertainment. Shooting, dismemberment, glorification of fighting to the death, is ubiquitous. This can’t be healthy for people already at risk for violent outbursts. No one is saying ban violent content. Just like few are saying ban all gun ownership. But take some responsibility for what you put out there. Just like gun right defenders must take responsibility for their policy positions. Quit being hypocrites Progressives.
So what actions can we take to reduce violence with guns.
Politicians have to be brave and support laws that have been proven to reduce gun violence. Or a more likely possibility is that gun law proponents need to identify and motivate people to make opposition to effective gun laws a disqualifying factor when casting their vote. That may seem impossible, but just a few years ago, who would have thought that single issue voters for gay rights would outnumber anti gay rights single issue voters in much of the US. If gun aficionados would join that effort, we could quickly have effective gun laws that would reduce gun violence.
We as families, friends, and neighbors need to engage the mentally fragile and not let them get absorbed in an electronic world of violence, pettiness and hate. We also need to be advocates for mental health funding in criminal justice, public health budgets and in requiring mental health treatment coverage in private health insurance.
We need to verbally disagree with gun psychotics publicly. Its no use debating, because logic and reality are lost on them. All you need to do is say. I disagree.
The media and cultural leaders have to take responsibility for what they publish and support. And consumers need to hold them accountable through patronage, or lack of patronage.
There is no magic answer. And there will be future tragedies. We can reduce the incident of tragedies, but not if we listen to the gun manufacturers and those with gun psychosis. But the 98% of Americans who do support reasonable gun laws need to decide. Can we let the gun industry make policy. I don’t think so. They’ve done a lousy job of it so far.