Saturday, December 15, 2012

America's Gun Related Deaths: Are We Asking the Right Question?

EDITORIAL: I have spent the last two days, for the legitimate press, covering the massacre that took place at an elementary school in Connecticut. As a parent, an American, a global citizen, a humanist, it has been exhausting. But, not surprisingly, more exhausting is how this has inevitably turned into a soapbox for conflicting ideologies. Yes, the letters and requests have flooded my inbox. "End gun violence," they urge through visceral and impassioned appeals. But it's interesting, don't you think, how specific they are? End gun violence. Not "end violence." Then there come the bizarre and misspelled screeds from the extremities of the evangelical God Squad (and I'm not singling out Christians). They seek to persuade me that the Prince of Peace wants Middle Americans to carry guns everywhere to thwart gun-related violence. These are the same folks who boast to me of their desires to shoot up Family Planning centers and gays and non-Caucasians and insolent women and various other infidels in the name of Christ the Lamb or Allah or Yahweh or Jehovah. This is the same lot that shuns certain scientific truths and technological innovations because no mention of them exists in all the disparate scriptures. But God, in whatever its incarnation to them, wants these enlightened humans equipped with firearms. Which I also cannot find in the pages of their Holy Books.

I don't believe it's truly about guns, honestly. Rarely have I. Too few or too many. There are other countries with similar gun laws, minus these incidents. Lunacy and rage and hate will find the means to their ends. This is a societal problem, a cultural problem and to some extent a health problem. If we allow the focus of this tragedy to fall once again on Second Amendment freedoms or restrictions, we are once again missing the opportunity to redress the cause of the problem in favor of bickering over its symptoms and the agents of its delivery. And I find that myopic. But I'm sure it's more comfortable because it's tangible and material and concrete; not conceptual or philosophical or, heaven forbid, introspective.

To those who feel the absence of guns will pave the way to some idyllic and pacific paradise, you're wrong. The insane will find other weapons. Arson. Poisoned milk. Anthrax. Whatever. To those who think loosening restrictions on gun control or carry policies will prevent such tragedies, you're wrong. You accomplish little more than expanding the choices available and the access, especially with the absurdly lax regulations in many states. Let's not even get into the intellectual effrontery that is Stand Your Ground. You're all wrong, in fact, because you keep talking about the device, the method, the thing, and not the impetus, the compulsion, the reason or the cause. If a person killed my child and I decided in blind, vindictive grief to exact retribution, it would be done. Doesn't matter how: lead pipe, wrench, rope, candlestick; I'd find a way if I so chose. And in that spirit, it also doesn't matter to me how that person killed my child. Fact is, my child is dead. WHY is my child dead? Not how. Why. Why did this happen? Well, that's the question no one seems to be asking in earnest. But it's really the only question, isn't it?