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Guns (#1190)

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous

Like many Americans, like many people around the world, I find myself saddened, angry, terrified, frustrated, and more about the two recent massacres in America. As a parent, I can imagine the pain of losing a child. As a human being, I can imagine losing friends, family members, colleagues.

I realize that twenty-one people and ten people are but a small fraction of the more than one-million Americans lost to Covid [1]. We could have these kinds of massacres daily for a year and still not reach the number of Covid deaths.

I also know that, unfortunately, massacres are far too common around the world, although not so common in first-world countries. The numbers are also small compared to the effects of Russia’s murderous campaign in Ukraine.

Nonetheless, these recent events terrify me and sadden me. Like many Americans, perhaps most Americans, I know that things need to change.

I understand that there are reasons to own guns. Some people need to hunt to have food for their families. Some hunt as part of necessary culling (or what someone deems necessary). Some need guns to protect themselves. I’ve heard from multiple BIPOC friends that they must protect themselves because they can’t necessarily trust the police to do so. And some simply enjoy shooting. I don’t own a gun, but I’ve enjoyed myself the few times I’ve had the opportunity to shoot one.

I also believe that the vast majority of gun owners are careful, sensible, and rational.

But it’s not enough for most gun owners to be careful, sensible, and rational. Our country has too much uncontrolled access to guns, much too much. And it shows.

Each time we have a massacre, I ask myself what policies might have helped prevent it. Sometimes the solutions seem obvious, as in the Buffalo case. Sometimes they are less so.

In the past weeks, I’ve seen many sensible policies proposed [2]. Background checks are reasonable. We require background checks for so many activities in our country; why not have those checks for access to devices that make murder trivial. These latest massacres reinforce the value of moving the age of ownership/purchase to twenty-one. I realize that we have eighteen-year-olds serving our country and therefore having access to weapons, but that’s in a limited context. Proposals to temporarily remove guns from those with restraining orders also seem reasonable; after all, they are responsible for a higher percentage of gun-related violence. Perhaps we don’t need to sell assault rifles to the general public. These policies, and many others, would help.

For a few days, I was hopeful. The press I read suggested that we had reached a point that both parties would find ways to compromise, to pass laws that most Americans would support.

Then that Totalitarian, Repugnant, Usurious, Manipulative ex-President spoke to the NRA. And I was reminded that a non-insignificant portion of America, and a too-large portion of one party’s leadership, wants no compromise as far as guns are concerned. It seems they worry (or claim) that any infringement on their rights is just the first step in some byzantine plot [3]. And, although it is not said explicitly, they want to retain the ability to stage armed rebellion against the US, which is one of the reasons they want assault rifles [4].

I had hoped that we’d see compromise on sensible gun laws. That hope is gone. I feel hopeless.

I love many things about this country. I love that within the hundred or so years since my great-grandparents first arrived, much of my family has gone from newcomers with nothing to successful leaders in our respective professions, in spite of rampant antisemitism for much of those hundred years [5]. I love that we retain (or appear to retain) many freedoms unavailable in other countries. I love that we bring together many cultures.

But I hate the increasing divides in our country. The divide over guns (and where one person’s right to guns overlaps with another person’s right to live safely) is one. The ever-increasing wealth divide is perhaps one of the most significant. As many have suggested, it has contributed to what appears to be an ever-increasing political divide; once America’s promises of potential for advancement start to ring false, other things too easily get called into question. I hate the divide caused by the failure to fully achieve the promises of the civil rights era that I experienced in my formative years. I hate that failure even more.

I wish I better understood those I feel divided from. I still don’t understand the opposition to masks; we are required to wear clothes, and clothes are aesthetic while masks are preventative. Beyond the I want to be prepared for armed revolution and I find them fun to shoot, I don’t understand the attachment to assault rifles. At least for the latter, we’ve historically been a nation of compromise. Your fun is not worth someone else’s life. I guess that’s the biggest thing; I don’t understand the reluctance to compromise.

I mourn for the citizens of Buffalo. I mourn for the children and families of Uvalde. I mourn for the people of Ukraine. I mourn.

[1] I also know that the count of one million significantly undercounts the likely impact of Covid. It is certainly much smaller than the increased number of deaths during the pandemic.

[2] More accurately, re-proposed.

[3] As many have noted, they seem to have no worries about infringing a woman’s right to choose or many people’s right to vote.

[4] Perhaps it is said explicitly. That makes me even sadder.

[5] I also acknowledge that some of the successes came much earlier and that not all of their descendants are equally successful.

Version 1.0 of 2022-05-28.